Bobbi Brown, founder of Jones Road Beauty: My go to is all about setting the most comfortable atmosphere possible. This includes good music, great lighting, a killer cocktail, and an appetizer board with plenty of options that you can easily dig into!
Sean Ang, co-founder of Deluxe Queer: First impressions are so vital - being able to set tone and mood from the moment guests walk in the door help them buy in to what you’re selling. A big thing we do at Deluxe Queer is make the entrance a ceremony: we all greet them, help them take their coats and shoes off, and give them little surprises to help them freshen up and relax.
Tessa Velazquez, founder of A Baked Joint, la Betty, and YESBABE: My favorite hack is simply setting various food and drink stations around my home that require a *tiny bit* of DIY. For example, a drink station that has a premade martini, but cocktail shakers and garnishes to finish. Or a grazing table with all the snacks, cheeses, and spreads for you to assemble into your perfect bite. It forces people to move around the space and make connections organically.
It’s an easy conversation entry to bond over your love for tinned fish or offer to make someone a martini. From there, I see my guests go into deeper conversation and just let it flowwwww. And trust me, you don’t need a big space to do this (I do parties of 20 ppl+ in my 400 sqf living room!)
It’s an easy conversation entry to bond over your love for tinned fish...
Harlem Wright, personal chef and culinary producer of Just Playted: I collect bespoke vintage kitchenware with a lot of charm to use on special occasions. I like to pull out the good stuff for my friends and family. Since enjoying food and beverages are a huge part of keeping the party flowing, I love adding to the experience by providing some extra visual stimulation for everyone’s indulging pleasure. It elevates the overall ambiance and helps keep folks happy, fed, and chatty.
Ellen Marie Bennett, co-founder of Hedley & Bennett: My main hosting hacks for getting the party flowing is inviting my guests to cook with me! I like to get everyone in the kitchen immediately; it helps spark conversation and ease any awkward social anxiety.
Another hosting hack to spark conversation: I sit people together that I know have something in common. Then, I often make blunt introductions amongst my guests, which I find makes it easier to cut the nonsense and allow them to get right to meat of a good conversation.
Colu Henry, cookbook author behind Colu Cooks: When hosting holiday gatherings, I lean towards dishes that can be done a day or two in advance and also benefit from being cooked that way, such as a braise, a stew or something along those lines. It makes the day-of preparation much more relaxed as the hard lifting is already done.
When people arrive and ask if they can help, which they undoubtedly do, take them up on it with simple tasks such as bringing glasses or plates to the table, folding napkins, or even making salad dressing. Even your best friends want to pitch in and it's not only helpful to the host, but for those you don't know as well it breaks the ice and makes people feel right at home and part of the party.