Host tips & tricks

Hostess 101
Tips and tricks to host the perfect party at home

We’ve asked some of the top in-the-know experts what their sure-fire tips & tricks are to host the perfect party at home. From décor to drinks to music & portraits , we’ve covered the gamut and done our research so that you don’t have to. Enjoy!

Setting the Mood: Top five tips for décor
1. Candles. Candles. CANDLES! Everywhere!! (safety in mind of course)
2. Fresh Flowers in focal areas; hallways, dining/coffee tables & bathrooms.
3. Adequate seating for your event type, i.e.: For a cocktail party, have some room to stand & to sit. Keep the party moving and people talking!
4. Plenty of surface space: to lay out the goodies and for your guests to put down their drinks.
5. Clean, nicely lit, freshly scented bathroom. Give it a good scrubbing and display your plushest towels.

-Décor guru, Neil Christopher Asselin

The Perfect Playlist: Top five songs to get the party started!
1. The Liquid Crystal Project/J Rawls – Tribute to Troy
2. Stevie Wonder – As (Always)
3. Red Astaire Feat Erykah Badu – Rolling Stone (Clean Version)
4. Bill Withers – Use Me
5. Deniece Williams – Free
Festive extra!
**Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time is Here ( Instrumental ) Charlie Browns Christmas

-Music master, DJ Gary Cronin

Strike a Pose: Top five ways to look your best
1. Put your best face forward and learn your best angle – we all have one. You can experiment with a digital camera taking pictures from different sides and angles so that you can see immediate results. You may be surprised.
2. Listen to your mother. Don’t be a slouch! Good posture goes a long way in pictures. Standing up straight will also make you look thinner and more natural.
3. If it’s a full-length shot position your body 45 degrees from the camera. Stand with one foot crossed in front of the other and put all your weight on your back leg. This universally flattering pose will make you appear thinner – instantly! No treadmill required.
4. If the camera is at eye level or lower, then lower your chin ever-so slightly. This simple trick will get rid of any double chin effect. Or if your seated, then gently rest your head on your hands. It works like magic.
5. Smile – with your mouth and with your eyes. Sounds obvious but many of us forget to smile in pictures and nothing looks better. Think happy thoughts. It’s that easy! Being stiff makes you look unnatural. Picture something funny or someone you makes you happy. It will shine right through to your pictures!

-Celebrity Photographer, George Pimentel

Hostess with the Mostest: Top five entertaining tips
1. Focus on purchasing the best/freshest ingredients your budget allows and present them simply; I love family buffet style service; your guests can mix and match items to suit themselves. This way you can prepare a lot of things far ahead of time allowing you to spend time with your guests, visiting the kitchen only to pull things from the oven from time to time or to replenish items to keep your table fresh with new offerings regularly.
2. Little touches make a difference! I use only cloth napkins and have lots of fresh bright flowers around; large bunches of several shades of one colour always look great. My favourite is pinks – always festive and cheerful.
3. I try to have a few choices on hand for beverages, and for all I allow at least three glasses/cocktails per person.

  • Champagne or sparkling wine. I can’t think of a more festive way to greet your guests! I like to offer a couple of options: a brut and a rose or demi-sec (slightly sweeter). A premium quality sparkling (Chandon Brut Classic from California, for example) is about half the price of champagne, tastes terrific and can also be used to create sparkling cocktails by adding fresh fruit purees.
  • Spirits – vodka and cognac are my top two choices. Vodka is so versatile – there’s a reason it’s the top selling spirit! You can easily make martini or vodka soda, but I also love to have a house signature drink to offer my guests.Cognac is just such a lovely thing to offer your guests at this time of year especially; it can be served neat, on the rocks, in lightly spiced tea or coffee…..or, with chocolate!
  • Wines – I also like to offer a couple of choices of each: for red, a lighter body (pinot noir or valpolicella) and a more robust (cabernet sauvignon or a shiraz). For whites I like to offer a riesling; it’s a little sweeter for those who prefer the style and it’s very food friendly! Also something more crisp in style like a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or a Chablis.
  • For designated drivers or those who don’t wish to have alcohol, I like to have on hand fresh juices, soda, tonic, etc – also I always make a ‘mocktail’ version of whichever cocktail I’m featuring at the party.

4. A great trend to have fun with is a variation on the cheese platter – the chocolate platter! With so many delicious options available today, you can offer different textures (a fondue, a creamy ganache style spread, and pieces) different qualities: variations on dark chocolate & milk chocolate, and textures: chocolate studded with nuts, fruit, or even espresso and pink peppercorns. Serve your chocolate with luscious fruits: raspberries, strawberries, figs, etc. and small dishes of fresh whipped cream or mascarpone cheese to which you can add a little fresh herb like rosemary, basil or mint leaves and let your guests create their own individual plates. For something different: my sister Cherie’s a chef and one of her favourite suggestions is super fresh baguette slices, topped with a some chocolate shavings, grilled in the oven just until the chocolate starts to melt, then topped with a light sprinkling of fleur de sel or coarse sea salt. Who can resist fresh bread or chocolate? Best of both!

5. There’s something about the charm of a Polaroid picture. Last season during our open house, our daughter took polaroids of all of our guests as they arrived. After the party we put them all in one chic little album that we keep right on the coffee table, and it’s turned out to be a great conversation piece and an ongoing tradition.

-Wine & Spirit maven, Kelley Burns-Coady