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The Hostess Handbook: The 5 Senses of Entertaining

The Hostess Handbook: The 5 Senses of Entertaining

We all learn about the 5 senses in school – taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. But when is the last time you’ve thought of this in the context of entertaining?! For a thoughtful hostess, this is something you certainly don’t want to overlook! When someone enters your home as you’ll want to make sure each of the five senses are appealing to them. This will create a general atmosphere of loveliness and make for an enjoyable time of each of your guests. Here are a few ways to ensure your dinner party, book club, or engagement party cater to each of your guests and an event Emily Post would give her seal of approval.


The food! This is an obvious one in planning.

· Know your guests: Whether you’re doing a weekly gathering or a special occasion or celebration, it’s important to remember that each guest may have some general restrictions or preferences in what they can or cannot eat.

· It’s not about you: While I’m a meat eater, I recognize that my guests don’t always share my food palette. So, I need to serve vegetables… at least I probably should.

· Let your guests help you with your dinner party menu: But if you’re hosting a dinner party, it is helpful to get any dietary considerations while planning your menu. Typically, your guest list is smaller so it will be easier to adjust for any unique considerations.

· Helpful hint: when you are having a more casual gathering without a seated meal, it never hurts to have a variety of items of substance – sandwiches, a meat/protein option, cheese tray and always have a little something sweet!


This is one sense that is very subjective. And makes a big difference too!

· Neutral scents are more pleasing: The beauty of smell is in the nose of the beholder. This means to avoid using candles or diffusers with extremely strong, overpowering scents. Stick to lighter, cleaner scents if you do use a candle to avoid sending any guests home with a migraine…


· Don’t serve party fouls: Just as it’s nice to be aware of lovely scents, it’s also important to assess what certain strong and often unpleasant smelling foods you’re serving. For those of you who choose to serve bleu cheese, it might be wise to place the cheese in the back or put next to some strong ventilation, or as I do, never serve it J


· Don’t overlook: Never forget the room’s temperature can affect the comfort of your guests like nothing else will.

· It’s getting hot in here: No matter the size of the gathering, it’s always safe to assume that as more guests arrive, the room temperature increases exponentially.

· Helpful Hint: If it’s winter and chilly out, make sure to turn down your heater before your guests arrive. It’s it warm weather, it is always good to make sure the air conditioner is fired up and running for a while before your guests arrive.

· Friendly reminder: There’s nothing worse than being overheated! And for your colder guests, a beverage hot or spiked should do the trick J


· Don’t let lighting be your blindside: This may seem like an obvious one – this is your theme, décor, centerpieces, right? Yet, there is something that sets the ambiance and tone more than your décor – it’s lighting!

· Pleasant Lighting makes a difference: This can be one of the biggest assets to the atmosphere of your party or one of the biggest deterrents.

· Helpful Hint: If you have plenty of natural lighting and windows, that is perfect! You can compliment the lighting with some additional lamps if needed. However, ensure that if you do need lots of lighting, use lamps as much as possible!

· To Avoid: There is nothing like creating a generic, office environment as the use of tons of overhead fluorescent light. Avoid if possible J


· Music is a must!

· Unless there is a speaker or prayer at some point where the music needs to be paused, always have a playlist ready before your event.

· Professional/More Formal event: instrumental or classical if you want a fairly neutral background.

· Sentimental/Peers List: If you know your guests from a particular time in your life, play best hits from that decade.

· General Crowd Pleasers: – playing the Rat Pack with a dash of Buble never hurts.

· Keeping the party going: always be prepared with a “later in the night” playlist… I think that will never disappoint J

· Helpful hint: this is an area that can also really keep a party going with the right playlist. So have fun with it!

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