11 Tips For Stress-Free Party Hosting
11 Tips For Stress-Free Party Hosting

11 Tips For Stress-Free Party Hosting

Party hosting can be a fine art. Luckily, Pippa Mckerron is a natural. Just in time for any Christmas events you’ve got coming up, we asked the co-founder of hosting service Soir Studio for her best advice…
By Heather Steele
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Image: @CHARLIEMCKAY/ @THESOIRSTUDIO

@DOMI_RAD/ @THESOIRSTUDIO

01

Don’t Feel You Have To Spend A Fortune

You don’t need to spend loads on tablescape rental. Right now, one of the biggest trends is using bows and ribbons to wrap around glasses or candlesticks. Another affordable way to add interest to your table is to use food. You could make a tower of brussels sprouts or scatter cranberries on the table. You could make orange pomanders using cloves and ribbons, and turn those into a tower. Place whole artichokes in the centre of the table or perhaps vines of heritage tomatoes to make a statement. 

02

Buy Well, Buy Once

Look at what you have first before you decide on a theme. Don’t buy paper napkins – just use the napkins you already have. It doesn’t matter if you have to mix and match them (and the same goes for placemats) – just use the same ribbon or twine to bring everything together. You can then reuse them all for your next party. Another note on themes – keep them easy for your guests. No one wants to feel like they’ve suddenly got to spend a fortune on an outfit.

Think also about items that will last you throughout the season, rather than just one evening. For example, we’ve done a lot of bulb planting in flower planters recently – these will last you well into the new year, as well as making great centrepieces and gifts for guests to take home. If you don’t want to spend lots at the florist or a flower market, look at foraging. You can use holly and mistletoe, or some dried oranges you've made yourself. Throw in a few ribbons, and you'll be surprised how amazing it will look.

03

Set The Scene Early

The moment someone is invited to an event is the moment the excitement should start. Even sending out your invitations through Paperless Post is so much nicer than a text – you can customise it and people can plan what they’re going to wear and get excited. That said, don’t overdo a theme. If a New Year’s Eve theme is sequins, let your guests be the sequins, not the décor too, as it can end up looking crazy.

@CHARLIEMCKAY / @THESOIRSTUDIO

04

Use The Space You Already Have

Use your space to settle on a colour palette for your décor, even if it's a picture on the wall with a hint of yellow or a cushion on your sofa. Bring that to the table and it will bring the whole room together. Maximalism is in over minimalism at the moment. I think you can never have enough on your table – and the food you serve is all just part of the art. Invest in some beautiful serving platters, but remember you don’t need a full set – everything can be mixed and matched. That’s the whole point of hosting at home – everything doesn’t need to look perfect, it’s not a restaurant. That was the thinking behind Soir – it’s not a restaurant experience, so you won’t have to leave because the next booking has arrived or it’s closing time. We’ve hosted events where there’s been dancing on the tables – that’s what it’s all about.

05

Don’t Try To Be Perfect

Red wine stains on the table, dessert forks and empty cake plates all over… That's the sign of a great night. Perfect isn't what people are looking for now, they're looking for something with character. That's what we try and bring to the table before anyone's even sat down. You want people to think, ‘That's a bit cool’ and take pictures. The more relaxed a space is, the more your guests will relax. If your table’s beautifully done, everyone’s going to feel a little bit stiff. It can still be beautiful while having character – that’s when people will know they’re here to have fun.

06

Candlelight Is Your Friend

Take advantage of the dark days. There’s nothing better than a table with lots of candlelight. Remember, if you're going to do a sit-down dinner party, make sure people can see through your flowers and candlesticks to guests on the other side. Bulb vases with fresh-cut stems are the answer as they’re low – and if you wrap ribbon or twine around them, you can hand them out at the end as party favours. It’s all about those personal touches – and it’s also a sustainable option, as they won’t go straight in the bin. Calligraphy is another simple way to make an impact. Even if you do it yourself, it will look good – you might see your own handwriting as bad, but others will see it as characterful. That said, there are lots of places in London where they’ll do it for £1 per card, which I think is money well spent considering the time and skill that goes into them.

07

Glassware Really Sets The Scene

Glasses are so important – some funky glassware can make all the difference to entertaining at home. I suggest mixing and matching newer glasses with antique glassware. I swear by the app Narchie and could just go through it forever looking at all the different antique glasses – right down to dessert wine glasses, which would be perfect for a small tot of mulled wine to kick things off. I also like using fun cocktail sticks. Sandra Alexandra has beautiful glass ones with vegetables and fruit on the end. Otherwise, just pop a cranberry on the end of a cocktail stick or some orange peel on the rim of a glass – anything to add a point of interest. Another fun idea for a girly night is to tie different coloured ribbons on the bottom of each glass to show whose is whose.

@CHARLIEMCKAY/ @THESOIRSTUDIO

08

Try Flower Frogs

A flower frog is a heavy metal contraption with pin spikes on that goes in the bottom of a vase or glass, which you place stems onto. It’s an ideal way to make the most of flowers that might be on their way out, as it makes them artfully curve and fall. You can buy them on Amazon and they’re amazing – tulips on their way out look amazing as a centrepiece when you pop a long frog inside. Everyone thinks you have to be a professional florist when it comes to hosting – that’s just not true these days. Look at Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Masterclass, YouTube, Create Academy… It’s so easy to learn and try things – and if the finished result isn’t perfect, no one will mind.

09

Don’t Do Everything At The Last Minute

I’m a sucker for lists – one for food, one for setting up. If you can, set the table the night before – you don’t want to be running around like a headless chicken just before guests arrive or, worse, when they’re there and everyone else is having a fun time. And with an elaborate tablescape, remember to leave space for all your serving plates and platters. That’s a joy of having a host service – I've never fully enjoyed one of my own parties before, I’d always be saying hi then running away into the kitchen.

10

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Again, don’t buy things you don’t need. If you don’t have enough serving bowls or chairs, ask a guest if they wouldn’t mind bringing one with them. Same with wine glasses – if it’s just two of you living in a flat, of course you’re not going to have 12 wine glasses, so ask around to see if anyone has some spares they don’t mind being used. Otherwise, you’ll just end up buying loads and having nowhere to store them. People like to be useful – and much prefer that to asking if they can bring anything, then being told ‘just themselves’. That’s the joy of hosting friends and family.

11

Keep Things Easy

If you're not a chef, that's fine – the simpler, the better sometimes. Just having some nicely decorated charcuterie boards can make such a difference, as can making your own pizzas (even if they’re just store-bought), or ordering some sushi on Deliveroo. People put such pressure on themselves and then they don't actually enjoy the evening. Your guests don't need a cheese soufflé – they'll have a great time just because everyone is there together around the table. For New Year’s Eve, we’re renting a house in Devon. I’m just going to do a massive roast, then go to bed!

To find out about having a hosted event at your home, visit TheSoirStudio.com & follow @TheSoirStudio.

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