In 2016 Lindsey Rose King launched Mostess, a Houston-based party-in-a-box subscription service that is sort of like Stitch Fix, but for entertaining. Each quarter she unveils a new seasonal selection of curated goodies, from artisan margarita mix to table linens, available to customers either by subscription or as a one-off purchase. Who better, then, to dish the dirt on how to be the consummate host?
1. Know when to call in the pros.
For King, that’s pretty much always. “Everyone works really hard,” she says, “and we don’t have time. Have your main entrée catered, or have a restaurant make it so you can pick it up and reheat it.” Her rule of thumb: Call in the pros for a seated dinner with more than 15 guests or a casual affair for more than 25. “The host should put together a really good appetizer and salad,” King says, and then focus on actually hosting.
2. Plan your drinks accordingly.
Expect each guest to consume one to two beverages per hour—that could mean booze or non-alcoholic drinks, by the way, and King advises always having more than water on hand for any non-drinkers. “Parties can be so alcohol-forward that sometimes it can isolate people who are not drinking for whatever reason,” she says. Oh, and another thing: “No matter what time of year it is, have an extra bag of ice in your freezer, because you will always run out,” King adds. “It’s Texas. Just do it.”
3. Curate your guest list.
Sure, there are the standard ice-breakers for themed events like baby showers and engagement parties, but what about a regular dinner? “Putting thought into the type of people that are coming together will really help them find common ground,” King offers. “If you’re inviting a couple that’s brand-new to Houston, it’s a good idea to also invite someone else that’s fairly new.” If you have a seating chart, remember that hosts go at the head of the table—one on either end, if there are two of you—and couples should be able to talk to one another. King prefers to seat them side by side.
4. Hosting at home? Pretend you’re an outsider.
First and foremost, make directions—and instructions for entry, such as gate codes—clear on your invitation. Next, King says, “walk through your home as if you’re a guest.” That starts with the front door: Is there a clear path to the entertaining area? If not, remove any barriers and consider lightly rearranging furniture to maximize flow. King also recommends fresh flowers—three to five similar-sized arrangements are ideal, scattered throughout the house—and some neutral-scented candles. And don’t forget to freshen up the powder room, either. Guests may want to sneak away for a quick break there. “They probably battled 30 minutes of traffic and sat behind the train to come to your party,” King says.
5. Hosting outside? Beware of the sun.
Nothing kills a vibe faster than a deluge of sweat. There’s only so much one can do to combat that—it’s Houston—but there are some precautions. “Always take note of when things are in full sun, be it your garden or back porch or even your living room,” King advises, and plan your party around which—and when—areas are shaded. Your guests will thank you.