Lately, I’ve been attending or hosting more and more gatherings. They’ve ranged from sit-down dinners to potlucks, pau hanas and backyard barbecues. Maybe I’m getting older, but I prefer getting together with a group of friends and family while enjoying some good food and drinks at someone’s house over going to a bar for a night of fun.

The gatherings I host seem to get better and, at the same time, less stressful. A little bit of foresight goes a long way. Take some of the stress out of your next gathering by following these simple steps.

1. Switch to incandescent.


It’s true, CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) are typically more energy-efficient for everyday use. However, the majority of these bulbs also emit an unflattering glow that some people claim causes headaches. The warmness of an incandescent provides a softer light that is easier on the eyes. Turn off the overhead lights, and make the switch in your lamps. You might also consider hanging string lights for the occasion.


2. Set up a beverage station. Go the family-style approach and let guests take the reins when it comes to drinks. Set out some staples such as water, juice, soda, beer and wine. You can use the end of a countertop or a cocktail table. If you’re using coolers, keep them on the lanai. Make sure to keep all the beverages in the same spot, so guests don’t have to go back and forth.

3. Rearrange furniture. If dinner is your focal point and you don’t have a formal dining room, don’t fret. Move the couches and put the table in the living room. Remove items that take up too much space, and put them back tomorrow.

4. Set up an area for shoes. It’s natural for guests to walk up, say hello, remove their shoes, and proceed to the party. Take away the guesswork for them by designating a spot large enough to accommodate all of the guests’ shoes, with some extra room to spare. Think vertical to save on space and utilize a multi-level shoe rack.

After each party, write down which pieces of the puzzle were a hit and which were duds. Take pictures and email them to yourself along with your notes. Being able to look back on the way you arranged furniture or where you placed beverage stations will be much easier to recall with a photo rather than a typed-up description.

Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you. Email me at