Have you ever attended an event or social gathering and left feeling as though it were one of the best nights of your year? Some people have a special way of putting together every detail seamlessly to pull off a memorable event. Three things to consider when entertaining is linked to purpose, atmosphere and guest sensitivities. If you get these three things right, and if you include everyone to feel welcomed and included, your event or gathering will have the makings of a complete success.
1- A Purposeful Event
Is it clear to your guests what the purpose of your entertainment gathering will be when they receive the invitation? If the event is to hold an extended working lunch, or a business dinner, this needs to be made clear at the time of the invite. You may invite colleagues or business associates to a dinner with the intention of discussing corporate plans, but they may arrive thinking they are there for relationship-building and to enjoy a night of fun and mingling. Creating invitations that clearly state the purpose of the event will help to ensure the host and the attendees are on the same page, and this will prevent resentment and will reduce communication breakdowns.
2- Determining the Purpose of Your Event
While it’s clear you need to let your guests know what the purpose of the event is, you may find that you struggle to determine the purpose. If you’re simply gathering associates or friends together for a dinner party, then the purpose of your event is to enjoy the company of friends. If you’re combining work with pleasure, be sure to let the dinner or gathering have a good balance of both, so all work does not outweigh the pleasure of downtime and casual conversation that is great for team-building and refreshing work-weary minds. A Forbes article, “10 Simple Ways to Have More Productive Meetings”, provides insight into the importance of stating the purpose of your meeting. Stating the objective allows you and your guests to be prepared and not to feel caught off guard during a social or semi-business gathering.
3- Pulling Off the Perfect Entertainment Atmosphere
Creating the perfect atmosphere can be done using simple decoration and lighting, and by ensuring seating and mingling space are comfortable. Whether you’re working with a small room or a large, open space, utilize the strengths of each type of location. If you have the event outside, make sure you have shade. A small room has strength in intimacy potential. Surrounding this type of area with soft lighting and candles is ideal for a dinner party with friends. A big, open floor plan with tons of square footage can be developed into a comfortable space by strategically placing cocktail tables and sitting chairs into nook-like areas. This creates an opportunity for conversation areas, and it allows guests an opportunity to get comfortable as opposed to awkwardly standing around wondering what to do. Interesting books, vintage art, or printed poems make a great addition to any entertaining room because they serve as conversation pieces. Strategically-placed conversation pieces help guests to break the ice and find common bonds and areas of interests.
4- Be Prepared for Guests’ Sensitivities
When you are entertaining and serving cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres, or if you’re serving a complete meal, it is important to know if your guests have food allergies or sensitivities. Including gluten-free and vegetarian items on the menu is a great way to plan to ensure all people are properly served and that no one is excluded from the meal. “Gluten-Free Girl”, featured on Huffington Post, has tips for gluten-free pie crusts, and she also suggests serving everyone’s favorites that are naturally gluten-free. These menu items can be prime rib, salmon, lemon-roasted chicken, and an array of tantalizing vegetables cooked with flair and offering seasonal comfort. For vegetarian guests, you can include black bean burgers, roasted veggies, fruit trays, and more.
5- Breathe, and Celebrate the People You’re Entertaining
Once you’ve outlined the purpose of your event, maximized your location, and prepared for diverse guests, it’s time to relax and be the host. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when entertaining is to prepare well, but give yourself time and permission to enjoy the gathering.