Inviting people into your home can be intimidating. You have to think about which guests will work together well, and what food and drink you should offer them. Not to mention what on earth you’ll talk about once you’re finishing chatting about the latest town gossip or recalling your kid’s reaction after their first week back at school. This is exactly why Kate Payne, the author of the Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, always plans for a project-based activity to keep everyone occupied, engaged, and at ease.
“I’m into the kind of parties that bring people together surrounding a new skill, an everyday chore, or even around the making of a fancy food product,” says Payne. When learning something new, like making peach vanilla jam or knitting for the first time, it’s a lot easier when you have more friends (really, more brains) around to lend their expertise or, at the least, decipher those confusing instructions. Plus, canning all those tomatoes for winter pasta sauces just seems more manageable and enjoyable when a group is tackling the same daunting task together.
Regularly hosting project-based parties where guests make their own stationery or learn how to sew has allowed Payne to hone her hostess skills. But it wasn’t always that way. If you’re intimidated, “tap into a network of hostesses who make it look easy,” suggests Payne. “The more you get invited into other people’s homes, the more opportunities you have to learn something from their apparent ease and talent,” she adds. “And train yourself to pay attention,” urges Payne. You can both learn from and be inspired by your friends.
She’ll admit, hosting your own craft party — especially if you’re new to it or trying something new — is not going to be easy at first, and it will be stressful. The key here is to keep on having people over. “It gets better after two to four parties,” assures Payne. And it helps to have everything set up at your fingertips in advance and to have a system in place so your guests know exactly what to do.
If you don’t want to provide the supplies, send each guest a list of what they need to bring, recommends Payne. And beverages and snacks are always a great idea. Go potluck or BYOB, or prepare some small bites like mini BLTs and other finger-friendly snacks. If it’s hot out, serve a refreshing fruit sangria. Rainy or chilly? Instead opt for a warm cider you can have mulling in advance.
The best part about hosting a skill-share party like these? Whatever you make this fall can double up as homemade hostess and holiday gifts come December. Pretty smart.