‘When hospitality becomes an art it loses its very soul.’
Hosting a social occasion is both a pleasure and a responsibility. For all but the most impromptu gathering, some careful planning will enable you to relax, and ensure that your guests enjoy a convivial atmosphere.
Check in advance that arrangements are clear. Your guests must know where you expect them to be, and when, including any directions and your telephone number in case of mishaps. Be clear about dress codes. If you would like guests to depart by a certain time, say so politely.
If you are serving food, recognise the limits of your culinary prowess and inclination. Your guests would rather enjoy your company over simple fare than attempt a fragmented conversation with you dashing frantically in and out of the kitchen. When hosting a larger gathering, be clear that your role is to oil the wheels of conversation, not to hold court with a favoured few. Don’t let yourself be monopolised; brevity is essential. You may be the only person that some guests know, so be sure to circulate and make introductions where helpful. Be generous but not pushy with food and drink, and ensure that conversation is flowing.
As a guest, you should respond punctually to invitations; this will assist your host in making his or her plans. A prompt arrival, gracious demeanour, timely departure and a note of thanks will ensure that you appear on the guest list again, and a reciprocal invitation should follow where appropriate.