Tips on how to be the perfect host

Tips on how to be the perfect host

Be the perfect host at your next dinner party. Etiquette coach Miss Coco of discusses the French art of hosting

The art of being a good host is to prepare a nice meal and to make your company feel as comfortable as possible. It is not just about the food. It is also about etiquette.

Being French, I did not have to learn it, I was exposed to it at home. However, I realize that some people do not know where to start. I often coach clients on this particular subject, and the more I coach them, the more I realize the magnitude of the gap.

Don’t overdo it

When I invite people over to my house, my cooking is fairly simple. I choose an easy-to-fix, balanced menu that will show a nice mix of colors, is good to the palate and attractive to the eye. Good manners dictate that I should not try to intimidate my company. If I do, I risk losing friendships as my guests may not reciprocate the invitation for fear that they would be judged negatively.

Casual yet elegant

When I greet the guests, I should not be overdone – subtle make-up, casual yet elegant clothes, a couple of nice accessories, but no ostentatious display. Of course, this varies depending on the place, the occasion, the circumstances – barbecue or formal dinner, kid’s birthday or fiftieth wedding anniversary, formal or informal, etc.

How do you know what to do, how to dress, what to bring (or not to bring!), and when? Well, there is no general rule, but there is a rule for each and every situation.

Be personable

A host’s main goal is always to make all guests feel comfortable. Of course, the food and the personal appearance are important, but also, a good host is a friendly, generous, personable, welcoming host.

The more guests you have at one time, the more difficult it is to combine all these attributes because you deal with different temperaments and behaviors. You may want to limit yourself to small parties at the beginning.

It’s easy when you know how

You should know that any apprehension or stress on your part will show flagrantly and create uneasiness for all. The key is to know what you are doing, thus know the rules, because when you know what you are doing and you know the rules, you have confidence, and you set the standard. I have always thought that etiquette brings confidence. Knowing etiquette, you are much less likely to make a faux pas, and you become a role model that people trust and respect. Knowing etiquette keeps you calm because you know that you will always know what to do!

Set the vibe

The vibe of the party should be set by the host, not the guests. The host must be in control of the vibe without displaying any sign of authority. It should come naturally. The more natural it is, the more comfortable the guests will feel, and the more successful and memorable the party will be.

Being a good host is not improvised. Even though some have to work at it more than others, we can all pull it off as brilliantly and as naturally as the French do. How? Learn it, and you will better yourself more than you ever thought!

About the author:

Coco is a native French restaurateur, blogger, etiquette coach, and has an online “all things French” store at

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