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6 Mistakes You're Making When Having People Over, Experts Say

Avoid these common blunders that can compromise your guests' experience.

Preparing for guests can come with a mile-long to-do list. This entails not only clearing the clutter and stocking up on eats and beverages but also creating some inviting ambiance with the right lighting and music. While checking off these essential tasks, it's easy to forget about some equally crucial steps. And etiquette experts say that certain oversights can seriously sabotage your guests' experience. Assuming your goal is to make them feel welcome, comfortable, and cared for, here are some common mistakes you might be making when having people over.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things You Should Never Do When Hosting People in Your Living Room.

Giving guests no direction when they enter.

Couple greeting their guests at the door of their home
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Entering someone else's space can feel vulnerable, particularly for guests who have never been to your home before or who don't know other invitees.

That's why etiquette expert Lisa Grotts recommends instantly putting them at ease by showing them where to hang their coat, pointing out where to find the bathroom, and introducing them to other guests.

"By assuming people know each other, you miss out on an opportunity to connect your friends or family," explains Alyce Lopez, interior design ambassador for POLYWOOD and owner of The True House. "Re-introduce them to other guests and find a commonality for your acquaintances to chat about. Maybe both have kids of similar ages or work in a similar industry or have a mutual acquaintance."

And rather than simply asking if your guests would like a drink, Lopez suggests asking what they'd like to drink and listing all their options, including non-alcoholic beverages.

"People always feel more comfortable if they are in a new space when they're holding a drink," she explains. "It gives them something to do while they find a familiar face."

Leaving guests with an empty glass or plate.

Pouring a drink into cocktail glass

But just because you've given them that initial drink, doesn't mean your work is done. Leaving guests empty-handed is another big hosting no-no, says Grotts.

Since guests may feel too awkward asking for more, it's your duty to make sure they're taken care of. Grotts advises intermittently circling the room and offering guests a refill on their drink or seconds on any appetizers.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Items You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen When Guests Come Over.

Not making basic supplies easy to find.

friends sharing some wine, fruit, and cheese at a dinner party
Shutterstock/Yulia Grigoryeva

According to Laura Price, professional organizer and founder of The Home Organisation, it's a good idea to make sure your guests have easy access to certain essential items. "Keeping basic supplies on hand and in obvious places will help your guest to feel more at home and relaxed."

For example, you'll want to have a spare roll of toilet paper at the ready in the bathroom in case it runs out. If you're serving food, set out plates in a visible spot so guests can grab appetizers without needing to root around in your cabinets.

Spending all your time in the kitchen.

Woman cooking baked chicken at home in the kitchen. Homemade food, traditional food for the holidays, delicious eat at home concept

Between serving drinks, plating appetizers, and cleaning up after an occasional spill, it's easy to get stuck behind the scenes for the entirety of your event. However, Grotts notes that interacting with your guests is an important aspect of hosting.

"If you're in the kitchen the entire time your guests are there, you have not done your job," she tells Best Life.

With a little pre-planning—for instance, setting out apps before guests arrive or making a batch cocktail in pitchers—you can make sure you have quality time with your friends and family.

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Saying "no" when invitees offer to bring something.

Three generation family throwing a surprise party welcoming guests at the front door
monkeybusinessimages / iStock

When a guest offers to bring an appetizer, wine, or dessert, think twice before turning them down, says Lopez. Not only will it take some of the pressure off of you to provide everything, but it'll probably make them feel good to contribute.

"Sometimes people feel uncomfortable coming to a party empty-handed," she explains. "Instead of saying 'no,' ask them to bring something simple or one of their favorite dishes so they feel included. It also adds another talking point amongst new faces."

Opting for lighting that's too bright or too dark.

Empty living room with projector screen set up with couch and cushions and lights hanging on wall and floor

Don't underestimate how much the lighting in your space can influence the vibe. Overhead lighting that is too bright can be harsh and off-putting, making it difficult for guests to relax. Whereas lighting that is too dark might make guests feel tired or set a gloomy tone.

"Use a mix of natural and artificial lighting sources to create a balanced and cozy ambiance," says Artem Kropovinsky, an interior designer and founder of Arsight. "Use dimmers, lamps, candles, and string lights to adjust the brightness and warmth of your lighting."

Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more
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