Your Hosting 101 Guide: Tips from Kat Grimes Moynihan

Aug 30, 2023

Silvia de Denaro Vieira

Think about the last time you got an invitation to ‘come over’. Was is to your friend’s flat for drinks? Your partner’s place to ‘meet the parents’? Maybe a boss’s home for a team dinner? Regardless of the context, there is something so intimate and meaningful about being hosted in someone's home that can't quite be compared to a dinner or party out. 

We recently sat down with Kat Grimes Moynihan, Co-Founder of HOST, to learn all about why and how to host others with more joy at home!

What do you think makes hosting at home so worthwhile?

Whether you live in a tiny apartment, suburban patio, or beachfront oasis, when you open your home up to other people you're showing warmth, vulnerability, and care. You're also able to spend quality time with your guests, rather than getting stuck in conversation with just the person across from you (no offense to them!). A well-hosted gathering leaves everyone feeling more connected. 

If that's not convincing enough, here are a few more benefits to hosting at home:

  • It’s cheaper. Unlike hosting a party at a bar or venue, there’s no rental fee, no cover charge and no tipping. You can also ask guests to bring food and drinks to offset some of your hosting costs.

  • It’s on your terms. You can serve whatever food that you want and your guests like. 

  • It’s on your timeline. You get to tell your guests when to come… and when to leave (hello early birds)!

Although hosting can be a lot of work, with a few hacks, the right snacks, drinks, vibe, and, most importantly, people - hosting at home takes the cake every time. Gatherings are more intimate, meaningful, and downright fun.

What common obstacles tend to hold people back from hosting with joy?

When it comes to hosting, we are the first to admit that it can be stressful!

Sending invites. Ordering food. Figuring out how much food to order. Having options for guests with dietary restrictions. Ensuring you have disposable (and ideally nice-looking) plates and cups. Getting alcohol. Making drinks. Tidying up your place before the party. Cleaning up after. The list goes on.

Oftentimes, people rule out hosting at home before they’ve even tried it! Hosting is treated like a personality trait: “that person is a good host and I’m not.” There is a lot of pressure and self-comparisons when it comes to hosting. I want to empower those who feel like they just don’t know where to start.

In addition to self-imposed obstacles, the most common challenges people face when it comes to hosting are:

  • Not enough time. People are too busy to plan and prepare.

  • Not enough space. Those who live in cities find their apartments are too small to host people for a party.

  • It’s too stressful. Hosts can feel a lot of pressure to make sure everyone else is having a good time and has enough food and drinks, and therefore would prefer not to host at all.

For those just getting started with hosting, what are some simple yet effective tips for creating a great experience for guests?
  • Plan ahead! There are easy things you can do like texting the group 24 hours in advance with your address and entry details, so you’re not being asked for your apartment number as guests are arriving. 

  • Have options. When it comes to food, make sure you have gluten free, nut-free, and dairy free options if you know your guests have dietary restrictions. It’s also nice to have non-alcoholic options besides tap water. You don’t have to go crazy, but these little details will make all your guests feel more welcome.

  • More food is better than less. We recommend over indexing on non-perishables - they won’t go bad!

  • Simplify with a Signature Cocktail. We recommend a signature drink to simplify the prep! Tell your guests ahead of time so they can choose to bring a drink of choice, or opt into the drink selection. And have a few additional choices for those who don’t drink, and beer/wine/hard seltzer drinkers.

  • Don’t be afraid to outsource by leveraging service that make your life easier like Instacart, GoPuff, Drizly, and, of course, HOST.

What key elements should you have at home for a seamless hosting experience?
  • Lighting & Vibe! These are so easy and so under-appreciated. Lamps and candles are your best friend! Make sure to light a candle in the bathroom & always keep a matchbook in there. In case you didn’t know, lighting a match cuts the scent of anything ;)

  • Music! There are so many great Spotify playlists for whatever type of gathering you're having. Depending on the type of party you're having, make sure the volume of your music matches that. And if you need our recs, we have Spotify playlists for you! 

  • Snacks! Even if you’re just having people over for drinks, delight and surprise them with nibbles. You can keep some non-perishable essentials like sesame sticks, a savory nut mix, and wasabi peas on hand on so you don’t have to go out of your way every time you have company

  • Drinks! Many guests bring their drink of choice, but if you do some upfront work of stocking the bar, there won’t be much left to do here. Wine, beer and spiked seltzer are great to have on hand. We also recommend a signature cocktail if you’re looking to add an extra touch. Lastly, there are many non-alcoholic drinkers these days, so it’s a good idea to always have extra seltzers and citrus on hand!

  • Cleanliness! Some are better than others at this - whether you plan to have a professional cleaner come before your gathering or have a roomba to clean-up the dog-hair, make sure to set-aside 1-2 hours before to prep your place so it’s HOST ready. 

  • Bonus: Dried or Fresh Flowers! These add a beautiful seasonal touch to any space. 

Many of us like the idea of having people over but find ourselves too worried to really enjoy the experience. What advice do you have to help hosts savor the moment?

The more you can prep ahead, the more enjoyable the gathering will be. Don’t get us wrong, we know how busy life can get! Products and services can be your best friend to save time and cater to your busy life - and that does not make you a bad host. It makes you an effective host who values convenience and efficiency. 

We designed our product to handle the essentials so that you can get what you need quickly and focus on your favorite part of hosting. HOST Essentials kits are designed to make prep-work and planning simple. We look forward to seeing how our customers use the product, so we can build additional kit types and add-on services that continue to reduce the prep-time and hassle.

What exactly is HOST and what inspired you to build it?

I started HOST last year while attending Columbia Business School and working full-time. I was juggling between school and work and I found it impossible to meet up with friends and family in any meaningful way - let alone host them at my place. After a botched at-home hosting event, I thought “There must be a better way!” and when I couldn't find one, I decided to create it myself.

HOST is a new service designed to take the hassle out of hosting and elevate everyday events. We create & deliver carefully crafted cocktail party kits with the essentials to up your hosting game and minimize your to-do list. Based out of New York City, HOST caters to the career-driven social butterfly who wants to ‘do it all,’ but doesn’t have the time. 

We are launching pre-orders to waitlist members next week! If you are interested in pre-ordering a HOST Essentials kit for this Fall join our waitlist! Kits are in limited supply, so make sure you’re on the waitlist to access our pre-order sale, which goes live the week of September 4th.

Follow HOST on social media @hostwithjoy for sneak peaks of HOST Essentials kits, hosting tips and trends, and inspired cocktails from the best restaurants and bars in our favorite cities.