social graces

Because black people are known to be party animals, people often think they know all there is to know about hosting. The truth is, if what I've seen is anything to go by, we'd give a group of monkeys a run for their money.

Hosts bank too much on what they are providing and tend to leave it up to their guests to see to the entertainment.

When it comes to hosting we know too little for the era we live in.

A relative of mine has the habit of whipping out recipes long after her guests have arrived to begin cooking. She says she fears wasting food before she knows how many guests she has to cater for.

One bloke wakes up bright and early to choose the music for his party but only takes a shower once everyone has arrived. Guests may take such a lax attitude in their stride but they probably won't forget it.

What do roaring parties have in common?

Apart from the good food, great music and enjoying the guests' company, all these are not possible without a great host or hostess. A host makes sure all the right ingredients for a great party are in abundance.

But often they are so busy ensuring their guest are enjoying themselves that they forget to take care of themselves. Check out these tips to ensure your party does have the "host with the most".

Dress the part: Regardless of your guests' attire, you should dress like the one who is running the show. After what may have taken weeks and months of planning, you owe it to yourself!

View your party as a chance to improve your social standing. By wearing a show-stopper, who could forget you?

Smile: A great smile and winning attitude are key to hosting a party successfully. A smile tells everyone you are having fun and that type of warmth can make even the shyest guests feel at ease.

Work the room: A party is the perfect networking tool. Parties can unite people who may never have met and the casual attitude is certain to make guests fall into easy conversation. If you happen to be hosting, go ahead and initiate conversation. It's your party and you can control the conversation if you want to.

Don't let them see you sweat: Take this tip literally. Excessive perspiration could indicate you are anxious about hosting the party, which does not bode well for the host who has leadership aspirations. Wear something "cool" or do regular bathroom checks to ensure your body isn't deceiving that well-rehearsed air of confidence.

Don't drink excessively: Being trashed at your own function discredits you and implies that even the host needs to be drunk to enjoy the party. Show yourself and your guests respect and limit your drinking. A glass of wine or a toast of champagne is fine, but don't drink more than one alcoholic beverage an hour.

Be sincere: Remember the best thing about a host is the ability to listen to guests, not just pretending what they have to say. Listening to guests serves two purposes. It shows you are genuinely interested in what the guest has to say and a guest could be providing you with some important party feedback. People can tell the difference. It is very embarrassing to get caught out being false. Also, remembering the finer details is a great way of making any guest feel important (example, remembering someone is a vegetarian) and they will take that to heart.

Being organised wins the race: Planning a party doesn't stop once the guests arrive. To ensure evening-long success, you will have to do regular checks on the food and drink, making a once-around-the-room at least every hour to ensure no guest feels inadequate or uncomfortable. Be prepared. Stock up before with party essentials such as drinks, snacks and toilet paper.

Be Responsible: Whether you realise it or not, you are accountable for the safety of guests at your party. It is both polite and thoughtful to call a cab for someone who has had one too many.

A good host just knows how to treat others with the respect they would appreciate if they were in their shoes.