How To Be A Good Host

Having guests round your gaff? Here's how to show them a good time.

NO REPRO FEE Released 11/09/2014. OASIS Autumn Winter 2014 launc
Whether it’s your in-laws you’re having round for dinner, some close pals or your boss and his missus, hosting can be seriously stressy. Here’s what to do to make it a breeze.

The prep steps

Do the necessary
So nobody’s asking you to deep clean the carpets but your guests probably won’t feel too comfy sitting next to your dirty laundry either. Spruce the place up a bit the day before. Tidy everything away, make sure there’s somewhere for everyone to sit and set the tone with candles or flowers. Pick a playlist too. You want to create a relaxing atmosphere so think Katie Melua not Clubland Extreme.

Check their food requirements
You don’t want to have spent hours rustling up an epic feast only for a guest to say ‘um, I can’t eat that’ or worse, be half way through their dinner and turn a funny shade of purple. Double check that they don’t have any allergies or major food dislikes. It’ll save you the embarrassment of having to reach for the takeaway menus and maybe even a trip to A and E.

Have a trial run
If there’s one thing Masterchef’s taught us, it’s this. Crack out at least one attempt at making the entire meal so you won’t stuff it up on the night. Time how long it takes and look out for any amendments you need to make to your recipes. When the night rolls around, prep as much as you can beforehand too. That way you’ll be less likely to end up digging emergency microwave meals out of the freezer.

On the night

Liquor up
Offer a drink when your guests arrive. It’ll help loosen the atmosphere and give them something to do while you’re slaving away in the kitchen. And on the plus side it’ll numb their palettes if your dinner’s a bit dodgy. On the other hand, you should refrain from having a skinful until you’ve got the bulk of the cooking out of the way. Nobody likes a host who’s keeled over in the kitchen.

Get the gab going
You don’t have to be the queen of witty banter, but you should have a few funny anecdotes or topics to talk about when there’s a lull in conversation. And remember to actually spend time at the table instead of running back and forth too often to see if the gravy needs stirred. Your guests can’t have a conversation with you when you head’s stuck in the oven.

Serve the food already!
You don’t want a bunch of hangry guests on your hands so aim to have grub on the table within forty minutes of them arriving. Stay organised by planning a cooking schedule counting back from the time you want your guests to be chowing down. If you know it’s going to be a while then put out some nibbles like crisps and dip.

Winding down

Gift your guests
Whether you wrap up a little extra dessert or send them home with that sterling raspberry crumble recipe, it’s nice to send your guests off with a gesture. So long as it’s not food poisoning.

Don’t say ‘we should do this again sometime’ unless you really mean it.
It can be seriously tempting to blurt this out but if you really haven’t had that great a night don’t feel obligated to offer up another invitation. Do you really want to spend another three hours hearing your boss go over last year’s figures in detail? Thought not.

Chill out
Now that your guests have been well fed and are on their merry way, congratulation yourself on a successful night, pour yourself a glass of wine and relax. Permission to leave the dishes until the morning, granted.