Welcoming in "New Friends"
Hosting guests into your home is beautiful and meaningful ritual. It transforms a normal room into a site for a sacred tradition - the gathering of people to relax and enjoy over a meal and good company.
However, taking on the role of host can be challenging, and often times quite stressful. The role of the hosts becomes increasingly difficult when catering to a party of people who you do not know very well, or perhaps do not know at all. Following the steps below will turn your dinner with new friends into an unforgettable evening.
1. Plan a menu your guests will love
Learn a bit about the tastes and diets of your guests before they come so that you can tailor your menu so that everyone will be able to enjoy a proper meal. This might mean a bit more work on your end, and the need to prepare more dishes to make sure that there is something for everyone, but your guests will feel appreciated knowing that you took the extra time and effort to consider them when crafting the menu.
2. Plan out the seating chart in advanced
When having new friends in your home, guests can feel intimated or lost when it comes to choosing their seat at the table. Therefore, place cards are always a good idea so that everyone both feels invited to the table, and knows they have a place, and also to remove the awkwardness that comes when people don't know where to sit.
As the host, it will be tempting to put the people you want to sit near next to you, but the seat next to you should always be reserved for the person who has shown up alone and doesn't know anyone. That way you can look out for them, and make sure they are a part of the conversation.
3. Plan out and lead the conversation
Beginning a conversation with new friends can be tricky, especially when you don't know them well. As the host, it is your job to lead the conversation, and to make sure that everyone is engaged, participating, and enjoying themselves. Starting the evening with the telling of a small story, followed by some sort of short and sweet icebreaker is always a good way to get the ball rolling.
When in doubt, make a toast. If there is ever a lull in the conversation, or you can just tell that things are going stale, or guests are looking to move on from the conversations they are currently in, there is no better move than to raise your glass and toast to something. This simple move will change the direction of the conversation, and will allow for you to interrupt the current scene, and replace it with something better.
4. Create a welcoming atmosphere
There should be the most minimal amount of artificial light possible. Twinkle/ string lights are acceptable, but any bright overhead lights should be avoided. Remember that the cozier you make people, the more open and comfortable they will feel. Light music in the background is nice, but it should never be too loud that people have to talk over it, and it should never distract from the conversation.
5. Show your appreciation
You cleaned, cooked, and initiated conversation so of course you should want for your guests to praise your glory, but it is still your job to show your appreciation for everyone at your dinner table. Make sure to float around the table and chat with everyone there to give all of your guests the most equal amount of attention that you can. Also, be sure to walk everyone out the door and give them a proper goodbye, and always follow up the next day with a thank you note.