The holidays mean tons of holiday parties…and chances are that you’ll be called upon to host one, ready or not! Think that throwing a shindig only means tons of stress and time you don’t have? Not so with Liza Utter’s hostessing tips and tricks. With her motto that “people make the party, not the stuff” this fiesta-throwing dynamo is changing the way people see hostessing through her classes, appearances on network shows and more. Take a look at Liza’s interview below!
When did you realize you wanted to make a career out of hosting?
I have been in the hospitality and service business for many years. A huge part of the business is hosting people from all over the world. Hosting is one of the great gifts in life—you get to be around people you like, you get to eat, drink, play, laugh, have fun and actually make other people feel good.
At the same time, you’re introduced to new people, have the opportunity to deepen friendships and make life lighter for a while. That’s a job description I can live with! We all know how much work goes into throwing a party or planning an event, but I have ways of making it easier and more fun for everyone. It is my passion to teach others the art of hosting so they too can benefit from the gifts it has to offer.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during your career?
The restaurant and party-planning business is extremely demanding. My customers were and still are the who’s who of the entertainment industry and have included major executives, politicians and international business moguls. That’s a tough crowd and not one that’s very forgiving.
I learned from my mistakes as well as my successes, but it’s the mistakes that make for the valuable lessons. That’s what the Liza America’s Host website and Liza’s Life of the Party classes are all about—taking all my experiences, lessons, hard-earned tips and tricks and then passing them on to future hosts/esses!
You say not to worry about making everything perfect. Why is that?
Because trying to be/make things perfect makes people crazy, stressed, anxious and cuckoo! A “perfect” party is not a guarantee of a successful party—a happy and fun host/ess is! When the focus of the party is on perfection, a host loses sight of what’s important…fun!
That is what I mean when I talk about the “Life” of the party; it’s experiencing the hosts vitality, energy and enthusiasm that guests remember long after the party is over, not the napkin arrangements! This is the sign of a master host, someone who is able to go with the flow and make people feel special no matter what. Just repeat to yourself—”It’s not about perfection, it’s about connection!”
With your busy schedule, how do you handle family and a personal life, too?
Verrry clumsily! Like I said, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about connection!” That pretty much sums up how I cope with the crazy demands of being a wife, mother, friend and daughter. I am far from perfect and like everyone else, I miss appointments, forget to open emails, etc.
To maintain my sanity and peace of mind, I focus on the heart matters…the things in my life that are truly meaningful to me, like one-on-one time with my kids, showing up for a friend in need, making sure I spend quality time with my husband and by myself. I don’t waste time trying to do it all perfectly, just with integrity and from the heart. I prioritize my life around what “feeds” me and my family and if I can’t get around to doing everything, I shorten my to-do list !
What is the main piece of advice you would give to someone who is planning on hosting a party in the near future?
Be realistic about what you can and cannot do especially when it comes to your budget and guest list. You don’t want to overextend yourself because that spells disaster from the very beginning. I would also say focus on quality over quantity. Remember it’s the people that make the parties, not the stuff.
The most important piece of advice I can give anyone planning a party? Make it fun for yourself and it won’t seem like work.
GIRL TALK TIME: What do you think of Liza’s tips? Are you throwing any parties this season?