How to Entertain at Every Stage of Life

Whether a 20-something or a retiree, there are guidelines for hosting throughout the decades

Entertaining at Every Stage of Life

Whether it’s a cherished childhood birthday party, a first post-college apartment housewarming, or a 25th anniversary dinner, we can chronicle the stages of our lives by the memorable celebrations we’ve held. Chances are, the Saturday night dorm blowout during college will barely resemble a kid's birthday pool party — unless we’re comparing the noise level — and it’s appropriate that as we grow and change, so does our approach to entertaining.

Click here to see the How To Entertain at Every Stage in Life Slideshow.

Narine Hovnanian, director of planning for the event planning and design company Designs, explains how one’s entertaining style changes over the course of life: "The biggest difference between [younger and older] generations is that people become more detail-oriented as they get older. The dynamic of the events changes as well depending on the age of the crowd."

The financial situation of many in their early 20s means that a young entertainer likely lacks the resources to throw an elaborate, multicourse meal or even keep the fridge fully stocked with booze — but the limitations during this period of life can be freeing, not restrictive. Now is the time in life to cultivate a laid-back approach to entertaining friends — something that may be harder to do later in life when faced with the stresses of children or careers.

As we age and our financial situation improves, so does our ability to pay attention to the details that make an event unique and fun. But entertaining at this stage in life takes on new concerns — how to commemorate important life moments with style and originality, and how to entertain when there are new guests to consider: children.

Finally, the career is established, the kids are grown, and resources are no longer a concern. This may well be the golden age of entertaining — the sky is the limit! But be careful not to get overzealous. Hovnanian emphasizes, "People can get carried away with things they want to do and then realize that it’s too much work." But no matter what stage of life we’re in, thoughtful planning is always the key to making sure the event is a success.

Even with all the changes in your entertaining style throughout the years, one thing remains consistent: you. Remember that there really are no set rules when it comes to being a host. No matter your age, let your individuality shine through and make the gathering feel like your own.