10 Thoughtful Ways to Up Your Hosting Game

Ready to be the host with the most? Impress your in-laws and dazzle your dearest friends with our tips for totally slaying hosting this holiday season.

Show: HGTV Happy

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Hosting the big holiday dinner this year? No need to fear! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a certified newbie, we're here to help you kick your hosting skills up a notch. Simply follow our advice, and you'll be reveling in your well-deserved host gifts in no time.

Set the Table in Advance

Large Stems Filled With Leaf Cutouts for Thanksgiving

A Gorgeous Thanksgiving Table Setting With Faux Trees

These stems are decorated with leaves cut out of construction paper. The leaves are used to write things guests are thankful for and then pinned to the stems with mini clothespins.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

A good host has the table set before a single guest walks through the door. This not only frees the host up to mingle and make guests feel welcome, but it also communicates a sense of welcome and preparedness to the guest. The last thing your guest should feel is the need to help you entertain.

Opt for Cloth Napkins

A Gold Charger on a Tablecloth With a Menu and Napkin

A Place Setting at a Table With a Gold Charger and Menu

This gold charger has a menu printed on vellum sitting on it. Above the menu is a clear glass plate allowing the guest to see the menu.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

A seasoned host knows that paper napkins are not only wasteful, but they also simply don’t cut it. When serving deliciously messy things such as gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, your guests really need cloth napkins at the ready.

Assign Seats for Guests

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Don’t let your guests choose their own seats. Not only can this be awkward for your guests, but it can also hinder dinner conversation. Seat your guests using place cards with their names on them and pick spots that will encourage conversation that everyone can be involved in.

Designate a Spot for Coats and Purses

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

If your guest has to ask where to put their coat or purse, you’ve done something wrong. Make sure you’ve made room on a coat rack or wall hook for your guests to use and let them know it’s open for them. If you have a small space, allow guests to place their coats on a chair, bed or sofa.

Always Prepare Drinks Beforehand

A Person Filling Their Drink From a Dispenser

A Big Batch Cocktail In a Glass Dispenser

This person can be seen filling their cup from a glass dispenser. The dispenser is holding a big batch cocktail with orange slices inside.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Nothing is more welcoming than being offered a drink as soon as you arrive. Have all your drinks ready to go and help your guests avoid the dreaded what-do-I-do-with-my-hands feeling. We recommend preparing a big-batch punch or cocktail that will last all evening and keep you free to do other things.

Have Appetizers Ready

Appetizer Sitting on a Wooden Cutting Board

A Charcuterie Board With Assorted Meats and Appetizers

This charcuterie board is filled with beautiful foods. The meats are laid out beside one another and assorted appetizers are in bowls.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Instead of making your guests hungrily wait for dinner, create a conversation piece with appetizers. Pile a charcuterie board high with cheeses, meats, nuts and fruits and your guests are sure to be impressed and appreciative.

Anticipate Guests Needs With a Comfort Station

A Tray in a Bathroom With Products for Guests to Use

A Comfort Station Filled With Useful Things for Guests

This tray is being used inside of a bathroom to hold essential products that guests may need during a dinner party. Bandages, floss and deodorant are just a few examples of the items.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

We’ve all been there. You’re at a dinner party and suddenly you have a stain on your shirt, a cut or maybe just a need that is embarrassing to bring up. Make your guests feel comfortable and at home by setting up a comfort station. We recommend visibly stocking your bathroom with a stain stick, bandages, hand cream, deodorant, antacid, dental floss, dry shampoo, aspirin, mints and potty spray. After all, a good host anticipates their guests’ needs and meets them before they even arrive.

Serve Coffee and Tea After Dinner

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

You know the warm and cozy feeling of an after-dinner coffee or tea? If you don’t, you’re absolutely missing out. Nothing pairs better with dessert than a nice warm drink. Fresh coffee, tea or even cider are sure to make your guests feel warm and welcome.

Have Gifts on Hand for Unexpected Guests

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

If you’re exchanging gifts at your gathering, be sure to have a couple gifts on hand for unexpected guests. You can buy an inexpensive, crowd-pleasing item such as a candle, or regift items you just can’t find a use for. Go ahead and wrap the gift beforehand and leave the tag blank to be filled in later.

Create a To-Go Station for Leftovers

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Avoid the miserable tossing out of all the leftover food by not allowing your guests to leave empty-handed. Create a packing station with to-go containers at the ready and encourage guests to take whatever they want.

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