Inviting people over to your place can be a (daunting) art more than a science, but there are a few basic rules you can follow so your guests feel more than welcomed.
1. Don’t aim for perfection
Once upon a time, knowing how to properly dress up a table and cook a complicated meal was an obligation when receiving people. Today, everything is much more simple. Although in some occasions (mainly the holidays) making an effort is necessary, in most cases however, you can afford to get much more flexible without being judged for it. No need to feel socially pressured.
2. Be friendly and attentive
Regardless of the size your apartment, and the quality of your culinary skills, your guests will undoubtedly leave very happy if you some some generosity, hospitality, and sympathy.
Instead of staying in the kitchen throughout the evening, and instead of making your stress apparent, think about relaxing a bit. Share your time with your guests. Isn’t the real reason for this get-together to, well, get together?
3. Pick the right date
Depending on the type of event, you can give out the invites the day before, if not the day of, especially when it comes to smaller hangouts (drinks, etc.). When it comes to smaller dinner parties, you can try one or two weeks in advance. As for large events (birthdays, weddings, etc.) several weeks, if not months are preferred.
Of course, all of this is based on the availability of your guests. It’s not easy to juggle the schedule of multiple people, from people working late, to those with children.
Some dates should be avoided: eve of holiday weekends, family celebrations, major sporting events, or even TV finales of massive shows. Have the reflex of checking if nothing major happening the same day.
4. Pick the right time
It is customary for every event to have a more or less predetermined time: 1PM for lunch, 4:30 for tea/snacks, casual dinners around 8PM and serious dinner parties around 9PM.
It’s very possible to derogate from these times, give or take an hour, but usually not recommended. Most people usually follow the same eating habits. It isn’t really pleasant to have afternoon drinks during dinner time.
5. Choose the right guests
Mixing and matching is a great idea. Invite close friends, but also distant acquaintances, or people you’ve never really met but accompany your other guests. Mixing genres could prove interesting, and new friendships could be born thanks to you.
With that said, some situations are to be avoided, especially if they can make one or more people uncomfortable. For example, don’t invite on the same night two former best friends, one of which stole the girlfriend from the other. Or even one person who was recently fired and another who just got promoted. Either that, or you can ask beforehand that these sensitive topics not be mentioned. In all cases, consider everyone involved.
6. Learn to welcome people
Take some time to clean and organize your home or apartment before the arrival of your guests. Be prepared and dressed before the start of the event. Welcome people yourself, including every person that comes in. Help them with whatever they’re bringing, or clothes that need to be put away. Then quickly offer them something to drink.
Avoid being taken off guard. Have in your fridge some juice, sodas, snacks, tea and coffee. You’ll probably also need ice and something light to nibble on. That way, you can host anything, even last minute.