by Josh Orendi
Part of being a great host is planning ahead so that your guests feel welcome and have a great time. Most of us know that food, drink, and entertainment are all elements to be considered, but there's more to being a great host than picking up chicken wings, a few cases of soda, and turning on the football game.
We are hosting activities (especially with potential new members) for the purpose of building new relationships. So, we want to be very intentional about the environment where the gathering will take place. Here are a few tricks that will help encourage everyone to interact and enjoy themselves.
CHAIR TRICK #1
In the area where your guests will congregate, do NOT provide enough seats for everyone. Stick to a ration of about 1 chair for every 2 people in the room. This will encourage your guests to move around the room and meet new people rather than sitting in one place.
CHAIR TRICK #2
Avoid having all your chairs staged in the common area. Your first guests will feel like they're alone and that they showed up way too early. You're also sending a message that you want people to find a seat and sit down. That's not true at all! You want your guests to mix and mingle. Keep stacks of chairs in a closet or back room. Pull out additional seating when needed (remember chair trick #1).
CHAIR TRICK #3
Avoid seating clusters larger than seven. Also limit or avoid seating clusters smaller than three. New relationships are best formed in conversation pockets of 3-7 people. Make sure your seating and activities encourage interactions between 3-7 people.
FOOD TRICK #1
Put a variety of snacks around the room/house in various locations. Your guests will find themselves moving through the room to explore their snack options.
FOOD TRICK #2
Keep the food being served on one side of the room with drinks on the other. Again, we're spreading the space and encouraging new pockets of conversation.
FOOD TRICK #3
Offer food and/or drink options that are unique. Providing something unique will make your meal memorable as well as give guests an fun talking point of common interest.
FOOD TRICK #4
Keep glasses and plates small. Again, we're encouraging movement as people get up for second and third rounds of food.
TABLE TRICK #1
If your guests will be seated together for a traditional dinner, choose a table that is almost uncomfortably small. Sitting close together as a unit enjoying a meal is a bonding experience. Any discomfort will be overcome by the host helping guests feel welcome and bridging dialogue between men/women at the table.
TABLE TRICK #2
Consider creative ways to use name plates at the table to help encourage your guests to sit near a new friend.
TABLE TRICK #3
Use a ridiculous opening topic to kick start great conversation at the table. For example, ask the table, “What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done or caught someone else doing?”
Being a host is about being a “connector” and helping your friends enjoy each other's company. Our social fraternities and sororities are a great place to experiment and learn the art of hosting a great social function. Our organizations have earned a reputation for not being able to do this without alcohol. Well, not anymore. The new definition of “social excellence” puts fraternity and sorority members in a position of leadership where we are uniquely positioned to help connect the best and brightest of our campus communities. I hope these “tricks” are helpful.