As the air turns crisp, many people’s minds tend toward entertaining. Hosting the holiday feast can be great fun, but anyone who has done it knows that it can be stressful. One of the best ways to ease the tension (and the workload) of being the host/hostess is to delegate.
Some duties are small enough that you can make a last minute request of a guest. For others, you might want to consider hiring some help or enlisting family members.
Here is my list of…
The Top 10 Tasks to Delegate When Hosting a Party
Contributing food or drinks
Just because you are hosting doesn’t mean you have to do all of the cooking. If you wish, invite guests to contribute by bringing a dish, a beverage or a dessert. Always be clear in your invitation by saying something like “We will provide the main dish and all the drinks. We invite you to bring a side dish to share.” AND, decide in advance where dishes will be placed when guests arrive (e.g. space in the fridge, a warm oven, or a dessert table.)
Answering the door & storing coats
This can be a good task for children or young adults. Ask them to…
– Greet guests at the door (e.g. “Welcome to our home”)
– Offer to take coats and move them in a designated location
– Direct guests where they should go after entering (e.g. “Please head through this hall into the family room”)
Serving drinks & cocktails
Designate at least one person who will be manning the bar and offering drinks. If drinks are “self-serve,” this person could primarily be in charge of clearing empty cans/bottles, refilling ice and keeping the area well stocked.
Tending the fire
A fire can be a lovely addition to a winter party, but if you have a wood-burning fireplace, it needs constant attention. It helps if someone other than the host can keep an eye on the fire and add wood as needed.
Filling water pitcher & glasses on the table
If the party includes a sit down meal, all seats should be given a full glass of water. Fill a pitcher and ask a guest to perform this job. Show them where to get ice as well.
Ask a guest or two if they would be willing to snap some shots during the event, and provide a camera for this purpose. Also, if you would like a group photo, be clear about when you’d like to happen… preferably NOT at the moment when the hot food has just been served.
Carrying and serving food
Consider soliciting help with putting food into serving dishes, carrying hors d’oeuvres around to guests, or bringing hot food to the table.
Dressing the salad
Dressing a salad is always a “last minute” job. Ask one of the guests to take ownership of this task, and show them where the salad utensils and dressing are.
Lighting/watching the candles
Candles are great but need supervision. Ask an adult to keep an eye out. If candles need to be lit right before sitting down at a table, be sure to give them matches or a lighter, and tell them when you would like the candles lit.
Saying grace or offering a toast.
Typically a host will perform this task, but you can also ask a guest of honor. Since some may be uncomfortable with speaking in front of others, be sure to ask in advance.
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Many of us feel like being a good host means “doing it all.” In reality, most guests are very willing to be of assistance if you will just tell them what to do. By having a few answers to “How can I help?” your party will not only be a success, but an event you get to enjoy.
What tasks do you often hand off when throwing a party or hosting a special meal?
21 thoughts on “A Tip for Entertaining”
Wonderful tips, especially as we are closing in on Thanksgiving. I am not hosting this year, but definitely will have to keep all this in mind for when I am 🙂
Janine Huldie recently posted…Bringing Back Family Game Night – Tic Stac Toe
Well, if you aren’t cooking this year, at least you’ll know what you can offer to do, right? Can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost here – always one of my favorite days of the year:)
Hi Seana – I am going to designate a photographer this Thanksgiving, thanks to you. Every year we have a house full of family and no photos because I was too busy to take them.
Yes Neena, I’ve had many events where I don’t have the photos I would have liked because I never asked anyone to be responsible for this. Last year I finally got it right.. I let someone else be in charge of this, and we now have a great record:)
I am a “doer,” and sometimes I feel uncomfortable at large gatherings because I don’t have anything to do other than be a guest. I am much happier when I’ve been assigned a job!
Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted…Reading while Driving #bookchat
Thanks so much for saying this, Sarah! I often feel that way too… I’d be happy if someone gave me something to do. Plus, it all comes together so quickly that way. I’m also happy to clean up at the end:)
I don’t usually host Thanksgiving or Christmas for a crowd, but when we get together with our friends at this time of year, we usually potluck. My husband looks after everyone’s drinks, but I like you idea about getting older kids to take coats. That will be my 13 year old son’s new job!! Great list Seana.
Jill Robson recently posted…What to do with old greeting cards.
Thanks, Jill. I’m sure your 13 year old will be the perfect guy for that job. Sounds like a fun tradition to get together for potluck. I usually entertain potluck as well… I always enjoy tasting what others bring:)
I’ll hand off whatever I can to my five-year-old! More like taking coats is her thing, although she will prep food. And asking for food and drink contributions is nearly vital!
Tamara recently posted…It Ain’t Easy Being Random.
I’m with you, Tamara. I’ve never met a potluck I don’t like:) My problem is I’ve run out of kids to help out! Now the work is back on me, so I’m not afraid to wrangle in a guest or two!
these are amazing and helpful tips…wish I could host. Our place is super tiny and we are lucky if five people can move around with ease.
karen recently posted…Just Finished Reading…
Well, if you can’t host, at least you can be a super helpful guest by offering to perform one of these functions, right? And remember, sometimes a small home is exactly what is called for. Sending you warm wishes, Karen!
This is a really great idea, Seana. I remember growing up my grandmother would certainly do this when we would all come over for special occasions and dinners. 🙂 I think we may have some things coming up before I have the baby where we will invite some friends over so I might have to enlist hubby and even little JR!
Brittnei recently posted…Display Your Child’s Work with My Art Gallery #Giveaway
Pregnant ladies DEFINITELY deserve some help. I always love knowing a way that I can be genuinely helpful… just put me to work. I’m so excited for you and your family:) Take care of yourself, Brittnei!
Great post Seana! Honestly, when my in-laws visit they always cook the turkey which is so great for me! They also stock the bar, and my mom always did the dishes! It’s more fun when you get the family involved.
Autumn Leopold recently posted…18 Ways to Prepare Your Guest Bed & Bath for Company
You sound like one lucky girl, Autumn. I so agree… “many hands make light work!” And its also just more fun when one person isn’t feeling like they need to take care of everything. When everyone chips in, they all feel a piece of the success:)
I’m such a bad delegater (is that a word?). I should do it more, it makes a big difference, I just like being in control, but then I get burnt out!
Savanna recently posted…Pre-op Diet, Surgery Date, Appointments, and more…
I definitely think delegator is a word!! I think it can be hard to do, because you aren’t always sure how another person will perform a task. But I think that it can free up a lot of time and stress if we are able to let go. Getting burned out isn’t any fun!
Love this post! Delegating is one of the best ways to enjoy your own entertaining.
I agree. Trying to do everything yourself is stressful, and you end up not having fun. Meanwhile, most people are actually quite pleased to help out, especially if you tell them what they can do. Thanks for reading, Ellen!
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