Hostess with the Mostess

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Did anyone else wonder where that phrase came from?! Well wonder no longer because thanks to our friends at Quora we now know!

“[The phrase] comes from The Hostess With The Mostes’ On The Ball, a song in Act I of the 1950 Broadway musical Call Me Madam, originally sung on stage by [character] Sally Adams, a rich socialite widow who gets appointed the ambassador to the fictional country of Lichtenburg. Though the authors of the play initially denied it, the Sally Adams character was based on Perle Mesta, an Oklahoma-born widow of a Pennsylvania steel millionaire who served as Ambassador to Luxemburg under Harry Truman from 1949 to 1953. Like many ambassadors even now, Mesta was a contributor to Truman’s presidential campaign, but another reason she got the job as ambassador is due to her reputation for hosting some of the best parties on the Washington D.C. cocktail circuit in the 1940s.

Perle Mesta sounds like a boss. I would love to have been invited to one of her parties. Hosting is something I absolutely love to do but quite honestly not something that comes naturally. An hour or so before I have guests I always feel some slight panic or anxiety. One time I even called a friend super flustered and she came to the rescue with a bag of groceries and calm demeanor to help me out.  Hosting doesn’t have to be hard. The root of it is inviting people you love into your home. But we all want to our own present day Perle Mesta and truly become the “hostess with the mostes(s).” Below is advice from myself that I’ve gathered over the years and some of my friends from one of my recent instagram posts.

  1. Start with a tidy house.  Lauren A (@laurenaplinart) says, “I always feel relief when my house is clean… after that I’m solid.” I can relate! Once my house is in order I have a more clear mind to prepare.
  2. Make your menu and grocery list early! Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, lunch, or having friends for the weekend make sure to make your grocery list early! If you’re like me there’s always something I forget to add when I first sit down to make the list and will probably make multiple trips to the store as it is so getting an initial list down early is helpful for me.
  3. “Always ask for diet restrictions beforehand and ALWAYS accommodate even when they say you don’t have to! I’ve found people with heavy diet restrictions always get left out and it’s not too difficult to make a similar dish on the just for them!” – Great advice from Michelle P (@_michelle_paul) As a gal who is gluten free I can attest. I always feel so awkward telling people my dietary restrictions but so loved and cared for when I can eat & enjoy, too! Last week we hosted my team at work for Friendsgiving and was delighted when an SO of one of my coworkers was so grateful that there was so much she could eat and enjoy. So worth it!
  4.  Always have more wine or beverages than you think you need. This handy beverage calculator tells you how much to buy in respect to your guest list, what people like to drink, etc. I tend to stock up on a couple extra bottles when we make a Costco run to have on hand if we happen to run out when hosting or if I need a quick bottle to bring to another get together. It’s nice to have on hand instead of having to make a run to the liquor store. Services like Saucey and Foxtrot deliver beverages right to your door which can be a great resource, too!
  5.  Have a good game (great advice from Kayla K. @mammallammaa) or playlist ready. There’s nothing worse than silence during a party – it can feel awkward! Have a good playlist going to set the mood. If this isn’t your forte ask one of your guests who loves music. If you don’t have a speaker you can invest in a small blue tooth one or borrow from a friend! Also, have a game ready to play after dinner. Ideally it’s one you or a guest have played before so you can explain the rules. Same as the playlist, if you aren’t a game person as a guest coming that is!
  6. Fresh flowers are a must. They just bring warmth and peace.” Some great advice from Maddy V. @theharvestmom  & I totally agree! I love fresh flowers on a table. No need to get a pricey arrangement, though. My personal favorite are flowers from the grocery store or Costco. Costco has some amazing pre-made bouquets for a great value or you can build your own at the grocery store! No need to spend a lot to get a great centerpiece.
  7.  Accept help! I am absolutely preaching to myself here. When you’re hosting it’s natural for guests to want to help. I get really overwhelmed and it’s not easy for my mind to give tasks out to delegate. Something my husband and I have started doing lately is game planning before guests arrive what they can do to help as we know they will ask! So this past weekend we left the table cloth off the table and the table unset so that guests could help. This makes people feel more part of the day or celebration. And it’s ok to ask for and accept help! It’s natural – again, writing this as a reminder to myself 😉
  8. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself, too! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in making sure everyone else is taken care of that you forget to enjoy yourself. I know at Thanksgiving we are all constantly telling my grandma to, “just sit down and eat with us!”. Don’t forget that your guests are there because they want to spend time with you. Of course you want them to feel well cared for but don’t forget to sit and enjoy the meal and conversation, too!

If you are hosting this Thanksgiving or holiday season take a deep breath and enjoy. I’m sure your parties and homes will be beautiful. And if you use any of these or have more to add shoot me a note.

Delaina J.


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