Recently we conducted a survey and found out there are 30 ways to show you’re at the top of your hosting game, from curating the perfect playlist to sharing the WiFi password.
While there will always be variations depending on the people you’re welcoming in, this study of 2000 adults has produced a pretty definitive list of how the modern guest would like to be welcomed and cared for during their visit.
It was no surprise that Christmas is the most common time of year for hosting, followed by birthdays, family catch-ups and a big Sunday roast. We all love to visit our family and friends, but being responsible for everyone else’s enjoyment can put a lot of pressure on the hosts.
Etiquette expert Jo Bryant said: “Long gone are the days of starched tablecloths and fussy three-course menus, but we still can feel pressure make everything perfect. Instead, aim to do less – and do it better.”
A third of us find hosting a meal at Christmas more stressful than hosting any other occasion, with a whopping 72% claiming the pressure for it to be ‘perfect’ was the main reason. One in five of us also start to plan the meal more than two months in advance to make sure the details and timings are right.
Jo added: “At Christmas, don’t be a martyr and try to run everything single-handedly. It can be helpful to give individuals specific jobs upfront, so everyone feels involved and you don’t feel overwhelmed.”
While one in four adults believe they’re an ‘excellent’ host, one in five adults describe themselves as lacking confidence, and a third worry they don’t have the space in their home according to the OnePoll research.
Dunelm commissioned the study to learn more about modern-day trends in home entertaining, and it seems like lots of us are moving away from formalities. We’re much less likely to call it a dinner party when we’re inviting friends over for a meal, and one in four people think it’s perfectly fine to order takeaway instead of cooking.
A fifth of hosts think the rise of social media (particularly people posting on Instagram) means they need to make more of an effort on presentation. We’re also more likely to plan themed music playlists and choose informal dining options, such as sharing plates over serving traditional three course menus.
Jo Bryant added: “Have the confidence to decide you’re skipping starters or let your guests bring pudding – and pay attention to the more thoughtful details that show you’ve made an effort, like stocking up on a drink you know is a guest’s favourite or using fresh flowers to make the table feel extra special.
“Consider inviting one or two close friends to come over early, and pop the music on in good time, so when the other guests arrive the atmosphere will already feel like a party.”
Our Dunelm expert also added:
“It might feel like there’s a thousand things to consider when hosting in your home, but don’t let it stress you out – and don’t be put off if you don’t have a huge space to entertain.
“Our customers look to us for inspiration for their homes to fit around their lives – with a coffee table that can convert to a dining table and seating with secret storage, you might find you have more room than you think.”
Without further ado, here are the 30 things our survey revealed as guest favourites…
30 ways to be the host with the most
- Keep the conversation flowing
- Offer guests a drink soon after they arrive
- Make sure guests don’t have to wait too long before food is served
- Have a clean and tidy home
- Don’t make a fuss if anything gets broken or spilled
- Have a great selection of drinks – from soft drinks to beers, wines and spirits
- Ensure all guest have a comfortable place to sit
- Offer to take people’s coats
- Have options for all dietary requirements
- Present food nicely – whether they’ve cooked it from scratch or ‘cheated’
- Spend more time with guests than in the kitchen
- Defuse any awkwardness or questionable things said by guests
- Sit the right people next to each other to create good conversation
- Remember your guests’ dietary preferences
- Top up guests’ drinks before they even need to ask
- Serve courses on time
- Plan games and activities – but not forcing them on guests
- Have the perfect playlist for the occasion
- Know what wine accompanies each course perfectly
- Let other people bring things (salads, puddings) to share the load
- Have a stocked drinks trolley
- Give guests the WiFi password
- Have the right glassware for all types of drinks such as tumblers for spirits and flutes for champagne
- Guess (or remember) everyone’s drink without asking
- Keep kids’ toys tidied out of sight
- Use special serving plates for the occasion
- Cook with unusual or creative menu ingredients
- Decorate their home in such a way as to create talking points for guests
- Personalise your name settings
- Book a babysitter or entertainment for kids
We can’t help you navigate awkward conversations, but we can help you set your table and pick out a new dinnerware set, along with all your storage, seating and comfort needs. Don’t forget to tag #MyDunelm in your Instagram photos if you’re using some festive Dunelm pieces while hosting.