Top 50 Party Host Faux Pas

Leah Bourne

PartyHost-ArticleWhen it comes down to it, entertaining is an art form, seemingly only perfected by a few. Well, we want you, our reader, to be one of the few. Here, the top 50 party host faux pas to avoid at all costs.
1. “The moment a hostess gets up to clean, the party is essentially over,” Lauren Santo Domino, Moda Operandi co-founder and Vogue contributor says. Enjoy the time you have with your guests, and worry about cleaning up when the party is over.
2. Remember as the host you do not want to stay glued to your cellphone. In fact, a cellphone basket at your party encourages your guests to be present at your event. As they enter, have your guests drop their phones in a basket (and remember to return them when it’s time to leave!) Above all, though, you want to be the one setting the example.
3. “Make sure that you’ve asked all of your guests ahead of time if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. You don’t want anyone to go hungry or feel awkward refusing food.”—Lauren Conrad
4. Don’t have guests bring any of the party’s essentials. There’s always a possibility of a guest being late, or worse, canceling at the last minute. And you don’t want to be left without something as important, as, say, wine.
5. “A polite hostess waits twenty minutes after the dinner hour (for the late guest), and then orders dinner served.”—Emily Post, Etiquette Expert
6. As a host you don’t want to try new recipes out on your party guests. If you’re feeling bold and want to use a new recipe, make sure to test it out before your event.
7. Have ample supplies on hand. There is nothing worse at a party than running out of  food or drinks or seeing party guests without a fork, clean glass, or napkin.
8. “Too much stemware on the table makes me nervous. It gives the table a very old-fashioned, farty look.”—Simon Doonan, Creative Ambassador-at-Large of Barneys
9. As a host it your responsibility to know your guests. As one of the last items on your to-do list the night before, take the time to review the entire guest list one by one.
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10. Don’t make apologies as the host, particularly in regards to the food. So what if you overcooked the chicken slightly?
11. “My worst is when the party lags and you are kept waiting. I like things to move. Cocktail hour should last forty-five minutes; by the time you move guests from one space to another, it’s an hour. Dinner should be served in an hour and a half. Then, dance the night away.”—Colin Cowie, Celebrity Event Planner
12. Start cooking earlier than you think you should. Serving food super late into the evening is a major hosting faux pas.
13. Have a guest that refuses to drink, or to eat a certain menu item? Don’t pry as to why. You don’t want to force your guests into revealing that they’re dieting/pregnant/newly sober.
14. Never let your guests clean up, particularly do the dishes. It is simply not gracious.
15. “It’s always better to have too much food than not enough. You want your guests to leave totally satisfied!”—Alexandra Von Furstenberg, Image Director For Diane Von Furstenberg
16. “Don’t wait for late guests. People resent being hungry.”—Isaac Mizrahi, Designer
17. Don’t forget to tidy up for your guests before they arrive. Nothing says party faux pas like walking into a mess.
18. Set the table properly (and don’t get creative with where the knives and forks go). You don’t want your guests to be utterly confused about where to sit and what utensils to use.
19. The biggest hosting faux pas according to homemaker extraordinaire Martha Stewart? “Over-producing and trying to be too expansive without expertise.”
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20. Make sure to put individual guest napkins in the powder room, so guests don’t have to use overused guests towels. Also add a soap pump, to avoid that gooey soap problem.
21. Serving passed hors d’oeuvres? Keep them to one bite.
22. Never, ever run out of ice. How much ice do you need for a party? Ten pounds of ice for every four people.
23. Put away scented candles. It will ruin the taste of the food and wine that you are serving.
24. “Certainly, poisoning your guests would be the greatest faux pas in my view…Overcooking meats is bad, but poisoning people is worse. I think that comes from trying to do things you don’t know how to do.”—Ted Allen, Host of Food Network’s Chopped
25. Don’t forget to properly introduce all of your guests to each other.
26. Don’t neglect ambiance. You don’t have to handcraft place cards for every event, but a few flowers, coordinating colors on the table, or a bit of candlelight go a long way.
27. “The main course should be a one-pot make-ahead recipe, so you can spend more time with your guests.”—Daniel Boulud, Chef and Restauranter
28. Be very clear as the host as to who is invited. Are children welcome? Are plus one’s welcome? Don’t be vague, and don’t leave anything up to interpretation.
29. Sending invites too late—or too early—is a big party planning no no. If you want people to come to your party, invitation timing is everything.
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30. “You have to have lights on with dimmers—even little dimmer extension cords from the hardware store. I’m a big fan of votive candles—scattering them about your living room and dining room. Good friends, good lighting and good drinks are the three most important ingredients to a successful dinner party.”—Adam Rapoport, Bon Appetit Editor
31. When decorating, remember to only use low flowers. You don’t want such impressive centerpieces that the guests can’t see each other across the table.
32. If there happens to be a terrible guest at your bash, say someone spilling wine on your couch or being rude, it is your job to give him or her a warning. If that doesn’t work, ask them to leave. It might seem harsh in the moment, but you want to ensure the bulk of your guests have a great time.
33. “The cocktails should be simple, all the food should be quite simple, and that’s the key to having a good party that doesn’t make you frazzled.”—Dita Von Teese
34. Don’t be scarce as the host. Make sure that you have plenty of time to mix and mingle with your guests.
35. “I insist always that all of the food be made at home. It’s extravagant, but what a difference.”—Valentino Garavani, Designer
36. Don’t aim to please everyone. Choose a nicely varied menu that you’re excited about and chances are, that excitement will rub off on your party guests.
37. Throwing a cocktail party? Have fewer chairs than people. This will force your guests to circulate and mingle the good old-fashioned way.
38. “Don’t serve a very large cake for dessert. I am fed up with larges cakes.”—Sonia Rykiel, Designer
39. No one likes a party somewhere too hot or too cold, so get the temperature of your party space right.
40. “Don’t be pretentious as a person or in the way that you entertain.”—Tory Burch, Designer
41. Don’t be a neat freak if you are opening your home up for a party. Asking your guests to take off their shoes, or not to drink red wine will immediately set a stiff mood.
42. You don’t want to hit the bottle too hard at your own party. Being a drunk host is never glamorous.
43. Nighlife impresario Amy Sacco says the biggest party fail is a too crowded party. “It’s annoying to move around and especially with all the tilting glasses when one is in a fabulous outfit—and then you can’t even get a drink as you can’t get to the bar.”
44. “Both of my ‘peeves’ are music-related: I think that the music is too loud everywhere. No one should have to yell over loudspeakers. On the flip side, too many dinner-party hosts don’t put on any music, and I think that is what I dislike the most—music is crucial to a good party of any size.”—Alison Brod, Founder of Alison Brod PR
45. “I think dinner parties should be relaxed. They should be about the people, the conversation, with simple and delicious food. The key to being a perfect hostess, as with so many things in life, is to not take yourself too seriously!”—Diane von Furstenberg, Designer
46. You probably think everyone should and will love your pets, but the truth is not all of your party guests will. Make sure to plan accordingly.
47. Event planner Bronson van Wyck’s biggest hosting faux pas? “Only serving beer and wine. I look naked without a glass of tequila, and that’s not a pretty sight.”
48. “Don’t cancel a dinner invitation the day of the dinner unless you are on an IV drip in a hospital.”—Harry Slatkin, Fragrance Guru
49. As a host, it is a huge faux pas to rush your guests out the door at the end of the night. Even if you are exhausted, be a welcoming host till the very last guest leaves.
50. Above all, as the host, it is important to have fun! If you are having fun, so will everyone else!
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