Traits of Successful Dinner Party Hosts

What makes people great dinner party hosts? It isn’t rocket science, but here is a list of five key traits.

  1. They are interested and interesting

My golden rule is to try to be “interested and interesting”. My 95 year old mother is the model. She lives in Westhampton N.Y. and for some reason she gets a lot of visitors during the Hamptons season. Past the fact that it is a great place to visit, mom is a really good listener. She really wants to hear what her guests have to say. She will play back their point before she makes her own. When she does make her point it is usually worth hearing.

  1. Great hosts are relaxed/prepared

Just like dogs can sense if someone is afraid of them, guests can sense when a host is nervous and unprepared. The best way to reduce stress and relax is to know that you are prepared and that your dinner will look and taste great. The French culinary concept of mise en place or “put into place” does wonders for preparation. Say what you want about the French, but they can cook. It is no coincidence that every culinary school around the globe teaches mise en place. Get your mise en place set up, and be relaxed in the knowledge that you are prepared.

Check my video on mise en place:

  1. The best hosts and hostesses are welcoming people.

A dear friend of mine just passed away. Isabel Watson was the wife of the General Manager of our company in the Philippines. She was a regal lady and she had a way of welcoming her guests to make them feel like royalty. Everyone that was lucky enough to be a guest of hers remembered her for her graciousness. She had a gift that we all can’t have, but some things she did we can all do. She would greet guests with a smile. She would ask about them be it about their trip, about their family, etc. She would make them feel welcome.

  1. Successful hosts know good food and drink

You don’t have to be a great chef or a wine connoisseur. You do have to know what tastes good and what people like. In Impromptu Friday Nights – A Guide To Supper Clubs there is a chapter titled “I Don’t Cook, But I Know Where To Buy”. It is patterned after my daughter’s in-law’s Helene and Rick. They don’t cook, but they are foodies, know where to buy and are great dinner party hosts. Again, it doesn’t hurt that they live near the ocean in Montauk NY. There is something about cocktails on their deck overlooking the ocean. Follow that up with fresh seafood from local restaurants and you have an unforgettable evening. Montauk is great, but have we friends with a lake house in Iuka MS that know good food and drink and are equally good hosts.

  1. The very best hosts develop good friends

The best dinner parties, the ones that everyone remembers are made memorable by the friends that were there. Really good hosts have a way of developing and staying connected to good friends. It isn’t always easy because people move. No matter what stage you are in life you need to be developing new friends. Dinner parties are a great way to develop friendships and keep the good friends coming back.

This is my short list. Please add your thoughts on additional traits in comments.

If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs. Morgan James Publishing published the Kindle-Version on September 5, 2017 and the hard copy coming out January 30, 2018.

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