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In about a week’s time, my husband and I will, once again, be hosting a large group gathering out our home. We expect anywhere from fifty to seventy-five (or more!!) people to join us in celebrating my husband’s graduation with his Master’s degree. It’s not unusual for us to have groups of people in our home on weekly basis, and with the large family we have, fifty to seventy-five folks for a celebration isn’t uncommon.
I was blessed to grow up with a mother who loved to host parties. We always had large groups in our home, and each member of the family contributed to the preparations, so I learned all of the tips and tricks early on in my life. I understand that experience isn’t what everyone grew up with, because I get questions frequently regarding how I manage to prepare my home to accommodate that many people.
Let me tell you, it can take work, but when you’ve taken into consideration the following nine items, you will go into any gathering feeling confident and able to have fun.
Before the Party
Clean Your Home
This might seem fairly self-explanatory, but when you’ve got a large group coming to your home, many of which may have never been there before, make sure to pay extra attention to the kitchen, bathrooms (everyone is alone in the bathroom), and living areas – especially those that might have accumulated cobwebs or animal hair. No one wants to go home with their clothing covered in pet hair, so make sure you save yourself the embarrassment by cleaning it up ahead of time.
In the bathroom, make sure to check the toilet paper supply. Having two or three extra rolls in a visible place makes it easier on your guest if the toilet paper runs out. Additionally, make sure there is a hand towel next to the sink. It’s incredibly awkward when, after washing your hands, you realize that you will have to either let them drip dry or wipe them all over your clothes. Don’t leave your guest in that predicament.
Need some specific cleaning tasks? Check out the printable lists in the cleaning section of the Printable Library.
If your gathering involves dinner, plan on having all of the side dishes prepared as much as possible ahead of time, or at least double check that you have all of the ingredients. There’s nothing like getting ready to throw a meal together and realizing that your spouse ate the last of the main ingredient in their lunch that day.
When Your Guests Arrive
Coats and Shoes
Your front entryway should be set up to handle coats and shoes. Let your guests know immediately upon entering the house whether they can leave their shoes on. In our house, it’s shoes on in the summer, and shoes off during the rainy and snowy winter months. Each family does it differently, so don’t leave your guest wondering.
If your front closet is always a mess, or you don’t have a front closet, find an alternative for coats. We have a front closet, but because I would rather not open it in front of guests for fear what might fall out, we also have a coat rack for our guests to hang their coats. We keep it free for guests only, so I do sometimes have to point out that it’s available for use.
This is the perfect time to also mention whether you have animals that aren’t allowed inside or outside. Growing up we had a dog that would bolt the moment the door was opened. It’s good to put that caution out there because no one wants to be responsible for you running down the street in your slippers trying to catch that runaway animal.
Give a Tour
Provide a brief tour of your home to guests who’ve never been to your place before. This is especially nice for parents of young children to be able to see where their kids might be playing, and even some of the things their kids might be playing with. Not to mention, you just did a whole bunch of cleaning for your visitors, so why not take time to show it off.
Even if you don’t have children of your own, I highly recommend keeping a few small items around that kids can entertain themselves with while you spend time with their parents. Put together a small bin and fill it with a coloring book, crayons, a couple books to read, and some building blocks or Legos, and you should be good to go. If you do have kids, make sure to introduce them and remind them of any house rules (where not to go, etc.).
What kid wouldn’t want to spend time with that assortment of items?
Offer a Beverage
If you are planning on just a couple of people, do your best to have a beverage on hand that you know they will like. We typically host friends in the evenings and on the weekends, so having a favorite bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer around is a nice touch. For teenagers, I like to make sure I have a couple cans of soda or some juice as an alternative to water. It’s the small touches that make everyone happy and excited to return the next time.
Of course, if you are hosting fifty to seventy-five people, then offering beverages is a little different situation. Hopefully, you’ve chosen to provide a large quantity of lemonade, water, or some other beverage, or have asked people to bring their own (which is what we do!). If a friend walks through your front door with a beverage, offer to show them where the glasses and bottle openers are so they can partake in it. I tell people that they are only guests once, so if they have been to my home before, then they likely already know where those items are and are welcomed to find them on their own.
When I’m hosting a Bible study or work meeting, then I choose to provide tea and coffee. To do so, I always make sure that the coffee is labeled as to whether it is decaf or regular and I provide spoons, a sugar bowl, and creamer all in plain sight. We have see-through cupboards, so finding a mug for that coffee isn’t hard for guests to do.
For kids, we actually have a kid’s glass and cups cupboard that allows the kids to get their own cup and fill it with water. This makes it easy not only for my kids but also others that are used to coming to my house. It keeps away the anxiety of having to ask.
Offer a Snack
If you are planning on providing a whole meal, especially for a large group, then most likely some of that food is already situated out on the counter or on the table as you get ready. Be sure to have a snack-like food that people can munch on as they smell the main course being cooked. If I know we are going to eat a whole meal, I try to have an extra can or two of olives in a bowl for people to grab. It’s an easy, and inexpensive, treat.
For those times when it’s just an afternoon gathering with no food planned, I suggest having a small dessert-like item, a vegetable tray, or a plate of sliced cheese and crackers. It quick, easy, and keeps folks from running off quickly because they missed lunch or are anticipating dinner.
After the party
Collect the Extras
Do a quick once-over of your home, checking for any lost kid’s blankets or toys that don’t belong and make sure to notify the respective parents. No one wants to be heading toward bedtime without that favorite comfort item.
If you have a small gathering, then make sure this takes place before they leave, so that no one has to make a return trip.
Clean Up the Mess
The guests are gone, and all you really want to do is sink into a chair and watch some television with the hubby, but rather than put off all of those dirty dishes until tomorrow, get them done now. Hopefully, you chose to use paper plates and such for large groups, so you don’t have to clean every dish in your kitchen, but if you didn’t, put the whole family to work collecting plates, cups, and silverware and get it cleaned assembly-line style. When you wake up tomorrow and the sink (and your living room) is free of dishes, you will be thankful you did.
It’s Your Turn
You are now equipped with all of the tools to host your own gathering of friends and family, and just in time for summer BBQ season! So, get out there, invite friends in, save money while doing it, and have a great time! (And then come back or tag me on social media and tell me how it went!)
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