Amanda Shine is a hostess extraordinaire. As a model turned special events planner, Shine understands the importance of aesthetics in all things, (including a good tablescape). She recently launched her own brand called The Setting, through which she aims to elevate entertaining and specializes in creating hand thrown pottery including beautiful mugs, bowls and plates. We recently sat down with Shine to pick her brain on all things entertaining, and she provided us with ten important tips for hosting an event this summer. You’ll definitely want to read this before throwing your next summer soiree…
1. What’s the Plan
When having friends, family, colleagues over to your home, yard, rooftop etc. – think in advance. Have a loose plan on how you want to present your space. If casual and relaxing is the goal, don’t buy six bulging bags of groceries and spend the entire time frazzled in the kitchen. There’s no shame in bringing in amazing ready-made options from a cool, local specialty food store. If you love the notion of homemade food, look into sourcing more obscure ingredients a day or two in advance and buy alcohol in advance too. Leave yourself room to focus on what’s important – entertaining your guests!
2. A Clean Slate
This is probably the most important piece of advice for entertaining, and though couldn’t be more obvious, it’s often overlooked – buy garbage bags, make sure you have windex with vinegar to clean the bathrooms and communal surfaces, empty the dishwasher and trash bins. The cleaner and more organized your apartment is in advance of your first guest, the more comfortable and confident you will be when opening up your home and the more flexible you’ll feel toward any last minute changes.
3. Comfortable & Cozy
For a large group that you don’t want to use your own tableware for, buy disposable. I love Bambu, but any brand will do. Don’t leave out items of value – either monetary or sentimental – when having over a group of people that you may not know very well. It’s not worth the short flash of showing off to lose something you care about. Put it away somewhere safe and bring it back out when your guests leave. Invest in some new oversized throw pillows or blankets for your couch to make guests extra comfortable. If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor access, buy some lanterns, pillar candles or twinkle lights to liven up your cityscape or lawn.
4. Extras Just in Case
Extras extras extras! Paper towels, ice, toilet paper, serving ware, phone chargers…you name it. If your friends often ask for _____, make sure you’re stocked. The less last minute errands there are, the more time you have to fine tune the details that matter most to you – whether it be the food, decor or both.
5. Don’t Forget Yourself
You’re going to be doing plenty of running around, so put aside a fool-proof outfit that you feel good in and wait to change until thirty minutes before your party. And yes, this includes shoes. Choose something that you can move in, not an ensemble that will force you to teeter toward someone asking where the dirty dishes go. Take those last thirty minutes to do whatever it is that you like to do to feel your best – whether it’s a beauty routine, letting your dog out, or browsing the web. Just decompress before the chaos, then change. You’ll feel fresh and ready – your good vibes will permeate.
Have a good playlist! If you’re not the most musically inclined, ask a friend with a strong musical repertoire to pull together four hours worth of music. Buy two or three bundles of blooms from your local market or bodega and break them up into four to six arrangements. Use smaller vessels for light touches and more substantial vases for your focal points on tables. Light scented candles for your guests, adding one to each bathroom. Make sure you keep a good eye on anything lit throughout the night and be responsible! It sounds nerdy, but it’s better to be safe than sorry…no one likes a flame-tinged wardrobe or burn marks on their new rug.
7. Have an End Game
Depending on how you and your friends hang out, try to think of the next phase if you plan on taking the night elsewhere. Give yourself an hour before to begin cleaning to make your next morning more pleasant. Be mindful of your neighbors and ask your guests to do the same. If you like having people over often, it’s not a good look to get on your neighbor’s bad side. Making sure they know you’re responsible is one less thing you have to think about.
8. Mix & Match
Depending on the size of your party, if you plan to buy paper plates, then spring for real glasses. It’s a nice way to incorporate the idea of a proper setting without having to feel overwhelmed by going all out. I think if you have to choose one thing to offer that is higher end, glassware goes the farthest – then flatware, then plates.
9. Guest List vs. Apartment Size
This one is self explanatory and probably more applicable to indoor spaces. If you have a NYC apartment and don’t want your guests to be wall-to-wall, make sure whoever you invite has a cap on how many people they can bring. The more crowded the party is, the more overwhelming it can be for a host to enjoy themselves – and a stressed out host is zero fun.
10. Go with the Flow
The most important thing is to have fun. Enjoy that people want to spend time in your space and be proud of that! Having worked in event production for ten years, I know that you can be organized with military precision and something will always surprise you. It’s important to just enjoy the work you put into creating a nice setting for your guests and for yourself.
Photographed by Danielle Kosann