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Venue Entertaining

If your circumstances aren’t appropriate for the event you want to host, you can have a party somewhere other than your home. For example, if you want to entertain 3 couples at dinner and your small apartment won’t do, invite your guests to join you at a restaurant.  Or, if you want to have a large reception you can use a hotel.  Often public buildings are available for parties and receptions.  Banks, museums, private schools, churches and libraries may have rooms that you can use and they can make fine and convenient facilities for your event.  Outdoor functions can be found in public parks that may have a “band stand” or gazebo on the grounds. 

Whatever location you select, there are factors that you must take into consideration as the host or hostess.  We offer some of those below:

This is an excellent choice as you can be sure in advance that they serve food and refreshments.  However, go to the restaurant at different times and on different days to get a feel for the atmosphere, food selections and crowds.  If you find that they have a popular brunch on Sundays and you wanted to have a few friends for lunch to plan for an upcoming event, this might not be the best atmosphere for you on a Sunday.  If you had only had a quite dinner there during the week you might not be prepared for the busy and crowded restaurant at Sunday brunch.

Once you have selected the restaurant then make an appointment to meet with the manager so you can get acquainted and describe the event you are planning.  Generally they will be most happy to help you as they welcome this sort of client who may return on a regular basis.  You may want to preselect items to be served that would be much like entertaining in your home, or you could select a chicken dish, beef dish and entrée salad and invite your guests to select from these items.  For fun, prepare personalized menu cards that describe the selections.  The restaurant will like this pre-planning as it helps them know what and how much to have on hand.  Also, some items can be prepared ahead so that they can be served promptly at your instructions and you won’t have to wait for the kitchen to catch up.  You can also make any other specific arrangements with the restaurant to personalize the event.  You can arrange for them to have centerpieces of your choosing and possibly event a color scheme just for your party.  You can give instructions about whether you want to offer your guests drinks before dinner or not.  You can select the wine(s) to be served in advance too. 

Make the arrangements for the bill so that it doesn’t become an awkward event following your dinner.  You can discretely excuse yourself and settle the bill out of sight of your guests. Often the arrival of the bill is taken as a signal that the party is over and everyone must leave. This way, you can give the signal to leave whenever you choose. If you feel that they need the table, you can suggest that you and your guests adjourn to the bar to continue visiting. It is a good idea to be generous with the tips so that when you return you will be assured of getting personalized service. You’ll find that your repeat business is important to the restaurant and they will treat you very well.  Once you establish a pattern of likes and dislikes, they will cater to your needs without your having to give instructions and it will soon resemble entertaining in your own home only no dishes. 

Whether entertaining at your home or elsewhere, it is essential that you greet your guests as they arrive.  This is a must.

Other venues:

Increasingly, outdoor formal events are becoming the fashion.  Before you plan something that will be held outdoors, realize that you are accepting additional unpredictable factors that can have a huge impact on the success of your event.  Hosting a party has enough risk in and of itself but having it outdoors just adds to the stress.  Nevertheless, the secret is to 1) plan well in advance 2) enlist the help of someone with experience.  Because of the increase in such events, many venues have professional planners on staff who will assist you.  Even if there is an added expense, you will want their help as they can make arrangements based on experience and it may save your party and your sanity.  In addition to the planner, you can get help from rental agencies who rent everything you could possibly need from glassware to tents and umbrellas for your guests in case it rains.  The nicest thing is that they will deliver, set up and retrieve the items.  However, many of these services are priced individually and you must make certain that you have an agreement in place that covers everything you expect.  You don’t want any needless surprises, like they delivered 25 tables and 250 chairs, but you have to set them up and take them down!

Inquire about various types of insurance as well.  Be sure that you know what the venue owner covers and what will be your risk.