The History of Hosting

  • October 29, 2023
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The History of Hosting

The traditions of entertaining have shifted over time. Hosting a party, dinner or function includes gathering of family, friends or honored guests to share food, drink and conversation. But have you ever wondered about the origins of hosting and entertaining? and how they have evolved?  

Community feasts and gatherings date back to 3000 B.C. when people would celebrate seasons – agricultural, religious, or sociocultural. Sharing group meals meant you had a surplus of food, and hosting was a sign that you had the means to entertain and helped strengthen communities. Hosting for the Greeks and Roman meant showing off their wealth, status and social connections.

Fast forward to the 19th century, people of status hosted dinner parties to celebrate an event or person. The guest list was carefully crafted to ensure seamless, entertaining conversation. “Conversation will be the sole entertainment for several hours, and if your guests are not well chosen, your dinner, no matter how perfect or costly, will prove a failure.” Ladies Book of Etiquette (1872)

Host’s wore the latest fashions, used the finest dinnerware and ensured proper service etiquette was provided by household staff. Guests were expected to wear their most formal attire. Newspapers published the events hosted locally to keep people informed and entertained (their version of social media). 

Continuing into the 1900’s and the post-war economy, American housewives hosted glamorous dinner parties where the expectation was to serve delicious food in fine china and conversations were controlled. Semi-formal gatherings emerged where hosting friends and family became the norm. The hostess was still expected to plan the menu, entertain guests and keep the flow of the party going. 

Hosting has continued to evolve and adapt during the 21st century. The modern host and in particular now Millennials and Gen-Zers are more focused on creating connection, meaning, and shared quality moments more so than lavishness. Hosts want to ensure their guests, and themselves, feel comfortable. 

In today’s world, gathering with loved ones and creating meaningful memories is what it’s all about. Investing in the proper china and silverware is up to each individual. However, everyone can agree that it’s important to enjoy quality time with your guests. Hiring a helping hand like a server or bartender has become a worthwhile investment to ensure hosts can truly live in the moment and enjoy themselves and their guests. 

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