These tips originally appeared as part of the story J'aime! in the November 2019 issue.
Jaime Engebretson of J’aime Events gives her top five tips for hosting soirees this holiday season. Now go eat, drink and be merry!
- Begin with a budget: “You should have an idea of what you’re willing to spend,” Engebretson says. She proposes getting the key aspects of the event in the budget first, and add extras if there’s room. “Find one item to go over the top with, and then add everything else,” she says. Big spends might be on dramatic florals or an extravagant cake.
- Know the flow: “Know the flow of the room, and make sure there’s no gridlock along the way,” Engebretson says. She recommends thinking through your floor plan and ensuring there is enough space to move around important areas like a buffet line or having transitions in place from one part of the event to the next, like going from a ceremony to a cocktail hour.
- Create beverage stations: Engebretson suggests self-serve stations for beverages. “There’s no way you can offer each guest a drink,” she says. “Have a water or lemonade station set up. Include a bar or bar table with all the supplies, so you don’t have to grab drinks for people all night.”
- Enlist help: “You don’t want to be working your event; you want to be hosting,” Engebretson says. If budget allows, she suggests hiring someone to work the event. Not doable? Assign responsibilities to those willing to help and who are not your guests. (For example, Engebretson puts her husband to work when hosting at their home.)
- Hire caterers: Engebretson recommends using a caterer when possible, especially for large events. “You don’t want to be cooking while people are showing up,” she says. This can also help hosts spend more time with guests and less time worrying about restocking snacks, monitoring dietary restrictions and getting grandma's recipe just right. (Yep, she can tell.)