Archive for August 19th, 2009

Tag-Team Hosting

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

At most parties, the guests drift in through much of the first hour. Consequently, many hosts and hostesses make themselves available to “work the door,” greeting each new arrival.

Similarly, the final hour of a typical event sees a fairly steady stream of guests exiting. Since they naturally want to thank their hosts before leaving, the hosts are once again at the door and away from their other guests.

In between the start and finish of the evening, lots of parties tend to spread out from room to room, or even indoors and out. No matter how easy a great hostess may make it look, seeing to the needs of many guests over a large area is a daunting task.

So I was terribly impressed last Saturday night by the beautifully coordinated “tag-team” approach to hosting that I witnessed at a house party honoring a golden anniversary. Early on, one of the honorees was always at the door to make each of their special friends and family members feel welcome. But they took turns, relieving each other every ten minutes or so. This allowed the hostess to frequently check the status of the canapes – her special province. After floating around the room, she took over door duties for her husband – whose area of concern was the bar.

When the buffet opened in the second hour, about half the crowd took their plates outside to sit at tables around the swimming pool. The rest of the guests were about equally divided between the living and dining rooms inside. Once again, our host and hostess took turns, neither staying in nor out for too long, and thus making sure that every single guest got “face time” with their hosts.

Not long after the ceremonial cutting of the cake, I noticed that our hostess had casually taken up station at a spot convenient to those who were the first to leave. She didn’t actually stand at the door – that might have been interpreted as inviting guests to leave. Rather, she simply picked a location that made her easy to see for those who chose to leave early. And soon – sure enough – her husband took over for her.

I never thought to ask them whether their choreography was something they had planned beforehand, or was merely the result of 50 years of learning how to read each other’s minds. Either way, their subtle-yet-sophisticated choreography ensured that no one ever had to go looking for their hosts in order to say “hello,” “goodbye,” or “congratulations!”