The importance of actually hosting – introducing guests and ensuring everyone mingles - is often overlooked. Rachel Fay, the UK’s first professional introducer (rachelfay.co.uk) shares the skills you need to ensure your next festive soiree will be a roaring social success.
How to be an exceptional host
1. Prepare in advance. Make a note of each attendee’s name and their key interests, the less obvious the better – these are conversational hooks. Work out the links between people with similar interests so that you know who should meet whom.
2. Delegate responsibility. Ask your partner or a friend to greet arrivals at the door and serve drinks.
3. Position yourself. Make sure you’re standing where people will gather once they’ve picked up a drink. This way, you’re on hand to make introductions.
4. Introduce people. Visitors always want to speak to the host – they know them well and want to catch up – but to create a buzz, the most important thing is to get people mingling with each other.
5. Be courteous. It’s polite to tell each person something about the other in order for them to create interesting conversation – you want to encourage dialogue without giving too much away.
6. Watch the room. Once you’ve made an introduction, move away. Don’t get stuck and spend too much time with one person. The ideal host should be monitoring the room like a waiter, watching to see that everyone is happy.
How to be a wonderful guest
1. Do as the host asks. Replying to the invitation as soon as you can is a good start. You will have been asked to arrive at a certain time – see that you do.
2. Ask to be introduced. Guests can often be left to mingle by themselves nowadays, which can be a struggle – so be proactive and give the host a nudge.
3. Don’t fall into the small talk trap. Ask the person you’re speaking to their view on a recent news topic – this gets away from the dull ‘what do you do?’, ‘how did you get here?’ openers and presents an opportunity to express personality.
4. Be attractive to others. Those who make an effort to look nice contribute to a party’s success – but being attractive is also about your mood; to have a friendly demeanor is to be a good guests.
5. Don’t try to ‘make an impression’. Participate in others’ conversation rather than taking the limelight. Make sure you are being inclusive and remember to circulate. Think of it as being a player in a team game.
6. Say goodbye graciously. Find the host and thank them. Slinking off in the hope they won’t notice is the height of bad manners.
This article first appeared on the December 2017 edition of Elle Deco