The art of hosting

James Evelegh pays tribute to event organisers everywhere.

By James Evelegh

The art of hosting

Until you’ve done it yourself, it’s hard to appreciate the stress levels involved in hosting a table for ten at a big industry event, such as at yesterday’s fabulous ACE Christmas Lunch.

I know, I know, it’s hardly a matter of life and death, but until all ten of you are seated and tucking into the ‘hot smoked salmon and spinach pithivier’ starter, it’s a roller coaster ride.

There are just so many things to consider.

Who to invite? Surely, your top ten customers? Perhaps, but what if they all happen to be the same gender / age / ethnicity? You’ve got to consider the optics.

What to do when people who’ve said ‘yes’ then say ‘no’? Stuff happens, people do pull out. “No problem, thanks for letting me know, smiley face emoji” is entirely the correct response, but doesn’t do justice to that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Reserve lists are essential, but a potential hazard too. At what point does a seemingly friendly invite get interpreted as a relationship-ending insult?

Stress levels on the day! You are now narrowly fixated on one thing: placing ten bottoms on ten seats. Last minute tube strikes are the stuff of organisers’ nightmares, as are sudden heavy snowfalls.

Checking your phone on the way to the event and you see one of your guests has emailed you. Do you open it? Is it better not to know? Of course, you have to, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief into your mask as you read “look forward to seeing you there”. Phew!

Once at the venue, you need to be super fit, because you are going to have to make repeated visits to the bar as your guests show up, neatly spaced at five minute intervals. Of course, when three or four do show up at the same time, carrying multiple drinks through a boisterous crowd is a hefty dry cleaning bill waiting to happen.

But then, that glorious moment of tension-release – your guests are all seated, drinks are poured, silly hats adorned and poppers popped – and… chill. You can do no more.

And the icing on the cake, but never an easy one to pull off, is when the guest who has travelled furthest to be with you wins a set of ‘air-pods’ in the raffle. Good times!

Full marks to ACE for putting on an incredible do in not the easiest of circumstances. Thank you to all our lovely guests for showing up and being such good company, and I look forward to inviting more of InPublishing’s favourite people to next year’s event.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.