Think about the last time you were hosting at home. Maybe it was a Superbowl party, holiday brunch, or family member’s birthday. Was it somehow more stressful and chaotic than renting an off-site venue for the afternoon? Even though hosting at home saves money, and makes the planning process easier—it doesn’t always feel that way. Eliminating the entire step of finding and setting up a venue should also eliminate all that venue-related stress. But there are some dangerous misconceptions about the responsibility of an at-home host that end up adding stress.
In this post, we’re going to bust five common home-hosting myths. Instead of adding more to your event-planning plate, we’re going to relieve some of that pressure. That way, you get to enjoy your party along with your guests! Because you shouldn’t spend your entire party worried about how clean your house is, or if you put up enough balloons. (In reality, your guests don’t care about either of those things!) Keep reading to see what else they don’t care about.
Your house should be spotless
The Reality: No one is checking under the stove
Maintaining a house is a lot of work—and that’s without party hosting! Often, we put pressure on ourselves to present a perfect, spotless domicile to impress friends and family. But the reality is that your friends and family don’t really care. Yes, you should absolutely clean up before hosting at home. But focus your energy on the areas that guests will use most during the party.
Bonus Tip: Do most of your cleaning the day before, so you’re only left with a final sweep-and-wipe the morning of.
Usually, this includes the bathrooms, kitchen or dining area, and any hang out spots. You can ignore spare bedrooms, the office closet, and even the top shelves of bookcases—we promise! Make sure the toilets are scrubbed, the tables are disinfected, and then give the floor a good sweep or vacuum the morning of. That’s it!
You need to decorate
The Reality: The decorations aren’t for the party
Unless you’re booking a restaurant or local boutique, your off-site venue will be bare, with minimal charm. Adding centerpieces, tablecloths, and other personal touches brings a warmth to the otherwise boring space. But those decorations aren’t part of the party. Rather, you’re adding them to make the space feel more inviting, and for guests to feel more comfortable.
When you’re hosting at home, that space is already warm and inviting. It doesn’t have blank, white walls or large, echoing rooms. Instead, it has family photos, throw pillows, and hand-selected trinkets—you don’t need anything extra. Of course, if you want to add balloons or a “Happy Birthday!” banner for the guest of honor, please do! But recognize that that’s not something you’re doing for the guests.
You should make the food yourself
The Reality: Free food is free food
Are you good at cooking or baking? Do you enjoy cooking or baking? Will you have the time to cook or bake? If you answered, “No,” to any of those questions—do not cook or bake for your event! Just because you’re hosting at home, doesn’t mean every element has to come from your home. There is nothing wrong with catering a home party. In fact, it just might save you a whole lot of time, money, and frustration.
In the food world, timing is everything. So any hot food you serve has to be hot when the guests start eating. (Not necessarily when they arrive.) And you have to prepare it early enough, so you have time to clean up. If you’re not used to cooking for large crowds, this can leave you with cold food or a messy kitchen. Avoid all that by ordering food ahead of time, and tasking a friend or family member to pick it up before the festivities begin.
You need an open concept house
The Reality: Zoning keeps the party moving
Open concept living has been the floor plan of choice since the 1990s. The purpose of wall-less interiors was to bring everyone together, and keep an eye on children while Mom or Dad tended to the home. It also seemed like every host’s dream—there was plenty of room for guests to gather, without being secluded in various rooms. But creating separate, intentional areas of activity can benefit a home party.
For starters, it prevents traffic jams. By putting the food in one room, drinks in another, and games or activities in a third (or outside!), guests continue to move around your home. They don’t get stuck chatting in the middle of a big room. Second, your guests don’t feel forced to mingle if they don’t want to. Unless you’re planning a networking event, chances are many of your guests won’t know each other. And while there’s nothing wrong with them getting to know each other—forcing that with one big party room can be awkward.
You can’t set an end time
The Reality: You need down time after hosting at home
When you book a venue, you are contractually obligated to clear out by a certain time. But because there’s no contract when you host at home, it’s tempting to let the party rage on until the last guest leaves. And you can certainly do that, if you want to! However, you can also clearly state an end time in your invitations, and guests will respect that.
Hosting at home takes a lot of work! While you may save planning time because you’re not venue hunting, you’re still setting up, managing RSVPs, and coordinating with a caterer and other event professionals. Post-event time is necessary for cleaning and getting your house back to “normal” after the party. Don’t take it for granted!
Hosting at home adds a personal touch to any event—so it’s especially nice for birthdays, anniversaries, and bridal or baby showers. It’s perfectly normal to feel stressed before guests come over. But before you get overwhelmed by the seemingly high standard, take a deep breath and remember that no one is going to check under your stove, except you. Focus on the important event details—because that’s all your guests will notice.
What parties have you hosted at home before? Which one of these myths do you struggle with the most?