Whether you are planning your own get together with friends this holiday season, or planning on leaving the planning to someone else, here are some thoughts for both hosts and guests from me and Chris at PRO CREATION.
1. The Invite List !-- Life is short, and time off to socialize is a very small percentage of that precious free time, so unless its a wedding or office politics are involved, we think home events during the holidays should be fun. Invite happy people to your get together and don't be afraid to police your own place for bad behavior. Grumpy, self-absorbed, contagious or uncomfortable guests can always be gently reprimanded or not invited in the first place. No apologies here. Celebrate with those, like you, who are grateful for what we they have, including special friends.
2. The Music!-- This is complex topic. With a small group, some softer tunes in the background cannot only create a mood, it can make a group of strangers more comfortable talking, there is less awkwardness.... Long periods of silence can raise the level of social stress and therefore the ability for your guests to open up and converse. Changes in tempo and mood can also be used to liven up a dead party, signal that there is a change of phase in your event – i.e. dinner vs. dancing or let your company know its time to go home. Avoid dirges and depressing music. Think of your party music as the sound track to the party you want to have. Avoid music that is too loud to talk over unless you have places for your guests to escape the volume.
3. Eats and Where to Put Them!-- The average American gains 7-10 lbs during the holiday. Consider healthier choices of high protein and low carb treats and consider some creative displays of veggies and fruit. There are plenty of sources of recipes that are a delicious alternative to cheese balls and french onion dip. For social events I also suggest food stations throughout the home. One food table works for sit down dinners but stations encourage movement and mingling. Make sure there are nonalcoholic drinks for your recovering friends, and don’t forget the ice!
4.Don't Forget!-- Any event planner will tell you that the two items forgotten most often by any party host are the ice and the wine opener. Either item can mean an embarrassing departure for you or a guest. We always suggest you plan ahead with each part of your get together...make lists... everything from what you are serving to what you are serving it in, to what you are serving it with. Even a pot luck can go bad with forty dishes and three spoons. Running out of bathroom tissue is another classic home party faux pas, make sure you are stocked in the bathroom too.
1. Bring Something! I was raised in the south where you never come empty handed to a private party. A bottle of wine (if appropriate), a small gift, ornament, cookies or at least a thankful holiday card are better then empty hands. Gratitude is rare these days and one of the hallmarks of social grace.
2. We’re here! Never arrive early unless you have talked to the host days ahead of time about helping to set up. There are fewer things more annoying then the guests that arrive in the last few frantic minutes of preparing and getting dressed.
3. Behave! Know when its time to go: if your host is yawning, if the lights are being turned up or if the music has been subtlety turned off, you might be getting a hint that the host has had enough. Offering to help with dishes can be one of the best things a friend can do, otherwise get out. Be prepared to take your shoes off at the front door, know your own limits of drinking and eating, balance your own stories with listening to others and be the guest you would want in your own home.
Happy Holidays to ALL, no matter what you are celebrating this December, we wish you the best of the holiday season and a most glorious and prosperous new year.
David Butler and Chris Mara
PRO CREATION events and design
David Butler is the owner of Pro Creation, a company based in Buffalo NY specializing in the