Author Topic: Good hostessing - serving food/drink  (Read 1573 times)

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Knitterly

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Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« on: March 22, 2014, 11:08:20 AM »
I had a party last night with 3 different sets of friends all at once. 

I had snacks and drinks available.  As people came in, they went into the living room to chat and hang out.  I wanted to offer food and drinks and make sure everyone had something, but the only way to do that was to interrupt conversation, which I am loathe to do.

So when you are hostessing, is it rude to interrupt conversations to offer food and drinks?

I kept waiting for a lull in the conversation, but there was no lull.   Ever.  Which is awesome, but which also makes it hard to tell people to at the very least help themselves to the food and drinks, which were on a table in another room (no room to lay it out in the living room).

SamiHami

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2014, 11:16:30 AM »
Perhaps you could let people know as you are greeting them at the door. "Oh, here! Let me take your coat! Everyone is in the living room. Please make yourself comfortable. Also, there are refreshments in the dining room, please feel free to help yourself."

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Thipu1

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2014, 11:38:11 AM »
When we had parties that's how we handled things.  We greeted people at the door.  One of us took their coats and showed them where the bathroom was located in case they wanted to freshen up.

We then showed them what food and drink was available and made their first drinks.  After that, they were free to get their own. 

I also don't think it's rude for a host to intrude on a group conversation with an offer of a fresh drink. 

NyaChan

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2014, 12:30:12 PM »
In addition to just saying at the door - "Everyone's gathering in the living room and there is food and drink in the kitchen/dining room,"  I'd say you don't have to wait for a full lull, just as an aside as you all chat - "there's drinks and food in the other room, please help yourselves" or I don't think it would be rude to just temporarily "butt in" - "Sorry to interrupt, just wanted to let you know that I've put out food and drinks in the other room so feel free to help yourselves when you are ready" and then join the conversation again so it'll keep going and people know they don't have to pop up immediately if they don't want to.

CinnaMom

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2014, 02:36:24 PM »
In situations like this, I'll typically plate up some food (if it's just snacks, of course-- not a full meal!) and bring it in to the space where people are socializing. Usually, someone will comment on the food, or thank me for it, and that's the opportunity to ask if anyone would like drinks!

ChinaShepherdess

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2014, 10:53:59 PM »
I know what you mean -- as hostesses, we work so hard to make sure that people are integrating and the energy is right, so it's annoying to break into the evening to ask people whether they'd like refreshments! I tend to flit around a good amount when I'm hosting, so if a party's too large to come to a lull at any point, I'll usually do some combination of catching people when they're not engaged in conversation and asking if they'd like anything (asking them quietly, or -- because I have a kitschy hosting ethos -- making a finger gun at them from across the room and mouthing, "Drink?") and just coming into the room with plates of snacks / beverages and seeing if anyone indicates they'd like anything. Particularly if you have uncomplicated snacks and beverages (wine, as opposed to complex cocktails, etc.), it's simple to bring them into the room, and guests will remember that they can get more in the kitchen, which can encourage people to circulate!

TootsNYC

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2014, 11:02:49 PM »
I think it's great that you're plotting tactics for future gathering.

But in terms of the recent event, I wouldn't feel too bad--surely the food was somewhere that they could see it? And surely they'd think that they could eat and drink it?

Even if it was sort of around the corner, like in the large kitchen, as a guest I'd assume that -something- would be available, and if I wanted something, I'd go look. I can't imagine that you'd hidden it, exactly.

Congrats on gathering a group of people who entered so enthusiastically into the conversation! That's the mark of a great hostess.

Knitterly

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2014, 10:32:12 AM »
Thanks for the input.  I was running way behind and was still pinning up my hair when the first guest arrived, and half the guests were here before the food and drinks were out.

But it was set up in such a way that people could easily see it. 

Next time I will make sure that people are informed about food and drinks as they come in the door.

Most of my get togethers are very casual with people I know well enough to allow them the freedom to rummage in the kitchen.  But in this case, the food and drinks were in the basement in the bar fridge and on the bar counter.

sparksals

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2014, 10:43:31 AM »
In my mind, as a hostess, it is my job to ensure my guests have a drink and know where the snacks are.  I would rather interrupt a conversation than my guests stand or sit without  a beverage. 


I have been to many parties where  the host remiss b/c I am not offered a drink.  We were at one party where the guys were downstairs at the bar area, the wife was fluttering about.  Several of us were standing in the kitchen where food was on the island.  I was there for 45 minutes before I was offered any type of beverage - one of the gals there waited an hour before she was offered.  There was not a place to help ourselves to a beverage either. 


So, if I came to your house in this situation you described, I would have stood waiting to be offered as I would not go and help myself unless I saw others doing so.  Since drinks weren't out at first, they may have thought you weren't providing any since  you didn't offer (I imagine you eventually did?).   I would have left your party thinking your hosting was lacking since I wasn't offered a drink.   It wouldn't have crossed my mind you didn't want to interrupt the conversations.    I would have thought you didn't provide them if I wasn't given instruction on where they were or to help myself. 

Deetee

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2014, 12:02:39 PM »
I think it is just fine to interrupt a general conversation with a cheery "Let me get you drinks! We have water, wine and koolaid. Sarah, what can I get you?" or  "Hi everyone. Please help yourself to snacks and drinks. We have water, wine and koolaid to drink and chips and cheese and veggies. Everything is set up on the dining room table"

or if you feel that you can't interrupt the general conversation, ask someone not directly in conversation what you can get them to drink and then once you start bringing drinks others will follow suit.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2014, 12:29:00 PM »
I've never found it rude to be interrupted by a hostess to say "Sorry to interrupt your story, but can I get either of you a drink?"

Or even a general announcement once the food and drinks were out of "for those who may not know, please help yourself to drinks in the basement fridge and snacks on the counter."

Lynn2000

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2014, 12:29:32 PM »
Maybe instead of directly interrupting a conversation of, say, three people, you could make an announcement to the room at large about the food and drinks. You're still interrupting, but interrupting everyone at once, and there will always be a few people who just keep on talking anyway. But they'll get the idea when they see other people start heading for the drinks.

You could also get a couple people to go for the food and just let other people see them and follow along.

I think it depends on where the food is, and how much participation is required. If it's easy to see and everyone can help themselves, they may just need someone to start the process of lining up. If it's in another room out of sight, or we're talking about individual drinks that the host has to make by request, you might have to be a little more formal or forceful about directing people.
~Lynn2000

Arila

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2014, 01:37:02 PM »
Given the specific situation (food not set up/out until half the party had arrived) I would have interrupted at that point and said it was available -- just as I would if it was a dinner party and it was time to come sit down.

"Oh, sorry to interrupt you Jane - just a quick thing: I've taken the whatsits-I'm-famous-for out of the oven now. They and the other refreshments are on the bar through there. So, you were telling us all about your trip to Peru?"

lowspark

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2014, 03:18:45 PM »
I've done it both ways and think both are acceptable.

Either make a loud general announcement "Food is ready. Please head over to the dining room and help yourselves." -Or- do a general mingle where you join into a group having a conversation and just interject "does anyone need a drink refill?"

I tend to have a lot of parties so most of my friends know where the food and drink are and know to help themselves. In addition, I usually give instructions as I greet people at the door. So I might tell them where to put their purse or coat. If they've brought food (for a potluck) I'll direct them to the table or dessert area, etc. And while I'm doing that I usually say, "drinks are in the kitchen, please help yourself".

But for example, I had a baby shower for a friend recently which included several guests who'd never been to my house before. I made a point of directing them to the drinks if I noticed they didn't have one because although I might have stated at the door, it might not have sunk in, what with saying hello & nice to meet you & such. Then, when it was time to eat, I made a general announcement. Yes, conversations were interrupted but, hey, it's food! No one seems to mind.

I still had to goad some people into going on over to the dining room to get food so I sort of interrupted those groups individually.

I agree with PPs who said, it's not rude to interrupt conversations with hosting duties. It happens. It's part of being a host. For example, if you were having a seated dinner with cocktails beforehand, you would necessarily have to interrupt conversations to announce that dinner was served so that everyone would head over to be seated at the table.

TootsNYC

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Re: Good hostessing - serving food/drink
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2014, 03:32:59 PM »
Maybe instead of directly interrupting a conversation of, say, three people, you could make an announcement to the room at large about the food and drinks. You're still interrupting, but interrupting everyone at once, and there will always be a few people who just keep on talking anyway. But they'll get the idea when they see other people start heading for the drinks.



This is what I tend to do.