5 Tips That Will Instantly Make You a Better Event Host

Cocktail Hour in New York at Guastavino'sTaking on the role of event host can be very stressful. After all, you've now been put in charge of organizing an event to please dozens, or even hundreds, of friends, family members and total strangers. If your event hosting skills need a boost, here are 5 Tips That Will Instantly Make You a Better Event Host:

Help Out of Town Guests Feel at Home

Whether you're hosting a wedding, social, or corporate event, one of the keys to your success will be making it as comfortable as possible for out-of-towners to attend. While it’s not your responsibility to book their travel for them, you should make suggestions to make their choices easier. If possible, block off the necessary rooms in a hotel that is close to the event venue (you may even be able to secure your guests a discounted rate). Help to arrange for all local travel, which will include airport to hotel, hotel to the event venue, and back. While time and budget constraints often make this impossible, picking up your most important guests at the airport will make a tremendous difference in their comfort level leading up to the event. Trying to find your way around a new city is stressful and having someone take care of that initial airport-to-hotel trip makes a world of difference.

Keep Guests Busy During Downtime

Keeping guests “busy” doesn’t mean giving them a job to do. By busy, we really mean to say well fed and entertained. In the case of a wedding, for example, this means hosting a cocktail hour while the wedding party is off taking pictures or performing other traditional wedding day duties. In most cases, keeping your guests busy during downtimes means feeding them appetizers and opening up the bar. For family events where the kids are involved, this could mean organizing a few party games while the guests of honor are unavailable. For nonprofit or corporate events this could mean organizing some kind of raffle, contest or auction for take home prizes. While it is important to give your guests a break from the “action”, never give them a chance to consider slipping out of the backdoor.

Keep It Short and On Schedule

Whether your event features on presentations, family traditions, or toasts and speeches, allowing any one aspect of your event to run overtime will be a killer. The rule for scheduling your event should be: Keep it short, or else! Business presentations require time, but anything over 45 minutes will leave attendees staring at their phones wondering when the next snack break is. When it comes to family traditions, anything over 10 minutes will quickly begin to lose meaning. A ceremony should never run over an hour, even when it includes a religious service. Toasts and speeches should be under two minutes whenever possible. Most toast givers aren’t professional speakers and after two minutes that will become very clear. Instruct the speaker to get started, get to the point, and finish up before the audience’s goodwill runs out.

Spend Where It Counts

Every event host is on some sort of budget. The best way to enjoy that budget is to spend it on the things that will help your guests feel most comfortable and happy, not more glamorous. A budget spent on food, music and comfortable transportation will make a far greater impact than one spend on flowers, decorations and wardrobe. If you are working with an incredibly tight budget for your social event, the two places that you should never cut back on are catering and entertainment. If your guests enjoy a satisfying meal, well-made drinks and a fun night of dancing, they will never remember the floral arrangements. If you’re working with an incredibly tight budget for a corporate event, spend it on service and technology. It is vital to the life of your event, and your business, that things run smoothly, on time and without any technical difficulties. Make sure these things are taken care of in advance and no one will mind that you didn’t send them home with an expensive take-home gift.

Remember, You’re Throwing a Party

A stressed out host is never a good host. Even if you feel like your event is falling apart, take a breath, stay calm and remember: To you guests, it’s just another party. The majority of guests are very easy to please. Something to eat, some good music and a comfortable chair should do it. Obsessing over an issue with your centerpieces or a minor problem with technology is simply misplaced anxiety. While we understand the need for an event to be flawless, let your planner or event venue worry about that; there is no reason to let a little mishap ruin your mood. Remember, in most cases your guests are there for you. If you don’t enjoy your event, your guests will know it, and they will feel your disappointment. Stay positive, relax, and have fun.

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