20 Entertaining and Hosting Ideas

Entertaining and hosting ideas at home are great ways to bring friends and family together. We have the best 20 entertaining and hosting ideas to spice up your party animal side.

How to Throw a Great Party

So how do you throw a great party? Small intimate get-togethers are more desirable in our 21st century as opposed to large parties. Of course, this is nothing new to the Texas scape, since Texans generally prefer smaller venues such as BBQs, tapas parties, and garden parties.

Our modern world is hectic, and it can be stressful. Entertaining and hosting shouldn’t be. We have a few tips to help reduce your stress over hosting an at-home event. The first tip is to have fun at your get-together. To do this, we suggest designating one or two co-hosts for your event. This provides you with support on both an emotional and a practical level. If you have a tight-knit group of friends and family, you can trade off with them when they entertain as well.

You do want to keep your get-togethers on trend and keeping up with event trends can be tricky. First, consider the group you will be entertaining. Are they adults, children, or a mix of ages, perhaps even seniors, or persons with special needs? Those needs can be quite varied so think ahead for any special accommodations that might be needed.

Top 20 Entertaining and Hosting Ideas

Texans have their own unique styles and preferences when it comes to entertaining at home. Some common ways that people in Texas, or any other region, might like to entertain at home include hosting dinner parties, hosting game nights, hosting outdoor barbecues, and hosting cocktail parties. We have put together our top 20 entertaining and hosting ideas.

20 Top Entertaining ideas to consider include:

  1. Plan a backyard barbecue, with grilled meat and vegetables, refreshing drinks, and outdoor games such as horseshoes or cornhole.
  2. Plan a themed dinner party, such as a Tapas party, Mexican fiesta or Italian feast.
  3. Set up a home movie theater and invite friends over for a movie night.
  4. Organize a game night, with a selection of board games and card games.
  5. Host a wine and cheese tasting, with a variety of wines and cheeses for guests to try.
  6. Plan a murder mystery dinner party, with guests dressing up and solving a fictional crime.
  7. Host a DIY class, such as a cooking or mixology lesson, for guests to learn a new skill.
  8. Organize a book club meeting, with everyone reading the same book and discussing it over dinner.
  9. Set up a backyard campfire and invite friends over for s’mores and ghost stories.
  10. Host a holiday-themed party, such as a Halloween costume party or Christmas cookie exchange.
  11. Host a breakfast or brunch gathering, with a spread of eggs, bacon, pastries, and mimosas.
  12. Plan a progressive dinner, where guests move from house to house for each course of the meal.
  13. Set up a hot chocolate bar with a variety of flavors and toppings for guests to enjoy.
  14. Organize a karaoke party, with a karaoke machine and a selection of songs for guests to sing along to.
  15. Host a potluck, where each guest brings a dish to share.
  16. Plan a themed dinner party, such as a beach-inspired luau or a cozy winter-themed gathering.
  17. Set up a DIY photo booth with props and a camera for guests to take fun pictures.
  18. Organize a craft night, where guests can make their own candles, soaps, or other handmade items.
  19. Host a tea party, with a selection of teas and sweet and savory snacks.
  20. Host a cocktail party with a signature drink and appetizers.

Food and Drinks

Try and keep options open for your guests, and offer games, drinks, and food that are appropriate for the occasion. Do not force party favors, games, or other selections on your guest. Keep it varied, for instance, serve both wine and beer. Offer seating options such as conversation areas and buffet seating. A well-appointed home bar will come in handy for last-minute get-togethers.

Entertaining and Hosting
Make Your Space Welcoming and Entertaining

Make your space welcoming and entertaining. You may want to include a theme depending on the event or celebration. Let guests know ahead of time if you have any special considerations. For instance, you might want the event to be free of electronic devices or alcohol. Just be sure to let your guest know this in advance along with any other considerations such as costume required and so on.

If you have a dedicated entertaining space such as a man cave that is open and inviting will make frequent entertaining that much easier. Remember your outdoor spaces also lend themselves to entertaining in good weather.

If professional entertainment is being offered at your event offer guidelines to your guests. Just let your guests know what to expect. An invitation is a good way to let your guests know the specifics of your event, such as an “open bar” or drink limit. If using a professional bartender determine ahead of time if tips will be accepted. You can leave the tipping up to the discretion of your guests. However, let your guests know if it is acceptable to leave a tip for the bartender.

Entertaining and Hosting
Use Visual Appeal with ‘Tablescapes’

Keep It Simple

We do recommend keeping your events as simple as possible. Maybe a lunch and munch instead of a full-blown dinner party, with a well-designed ‘tablescape’, some wine, and a handful of friends is to your liking. One of our favorites, when the weather is good, is a backyard get-together or garden party. This is especially desirable when having a slightly larger gathering so there is plenty of room.

If you live in a roommate household or have teenage and adult children you might want to designate a specific day for you all to share a day, a meal, and comradery. Have a theme or perhaps make a special dish to share, drinks and so on, making a celebration of the day together. Let others know what their role will be in the get-together, whether they will be providing a dish, preparing drinks, as well as other key items.

In Conclusion, Entertaining and Hosting

To keep your entertaining and hosting ideas fresh, visit some idea boards such as Pinterest for inspiration. Keep it simple if possible while still being festive. Sometimes just a few artificial flower leis and drink decorations can be enough. If you still have children at home and they are included in the event then get them involved with the planning and have them offer suggestions.

Joyful entertaining can be a slippery slope without a well-thought-out venue.

“Let’s raise a glass to friendship and good times!”

Kay Keeton, Editor in Chief

Drinks for a Party here.

Home life, culinary education, read here.

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What are some popular party games?

Some of the most popular party games include Uno, Loaded Questions, Taboo, Scattergories, What Do You Meme, Jenga, Heads Up, Telestrations, Battle of the Sexes, and Code Names.

What are tablescapes?

Tablescapes are simply beautiful arrangements of tables, dishes, and other décor items for special occasions or for everyday decorative use. A tablescape can be as simple as decorating a tablecloth with plates, napkins, and roses, or more intricate designs with candles, ribbons, and centerpieces.

What is Cowboy Stew?

Cowboy Stew

The chuckwagon was central to the trail drive’s daily operation. Chuckwagon cooking is an important part of the American Cowboy Culture, as well as Texas history, and lives on today in the form of cooking competitions and other events. So what is Cowboy Stew or as commonly known ‘son of a gun’ stew? We will start our explanation by introducing you to Cookie.

Texas is a former independent republic in its own right and the 28th US state. Here at TEXINI, we highlight Texas history, Texas culture, and Texas people as well as interesting facts about Texas. The chuckwagon, trail drives, longhorns, Cookies, and trail hands are an intricate part of the history of the Lone Star State.

What is a Cookie?

What is a Cookie? The very best Cowboy Stews were made from chuck wagons by the camp cook known as Cookie.

Cookie was oftentimes put upon to be the barber, dentist, doctor, seamstress, banker, and peacemaker. Cookie was second only to the trail boss. Texas may not have invented the trail drive but we do take credit for the chuck wagon that was used on trail drives to feed the trail hands. 

Cattle Were Plentiful in Texas

In the 1800s cattle were plentiful in Texas but worth very little locally. Most were unbranded “mavericks” or Longhorns. Texas trail drives during the period consisted of horseback riders who were referred to as cowboys or vaqueros.

 Due to the need for beef in the north and western regions of the country, trail drives were implemented to bring in higher beef prices for Texas ranchers. Trail drives typically took anywhere from 25 to 100 days creating the need for cooking rations and a transport apparatus that became known as the chuckwagon. Chuck was a slang word for food and food required a cook, commonly referred to as ‘Cookie’.

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Who Named the Chuckwagon?

Who named the chuckwagon? The invention of the Chuckwagon is attributed to Charles “Chuck” Goodnight, a Texas rancher in 1866.

Food stocked for trail drives consisted of beans, potatoes, sourdough biscuit makings, salt pork, molasses, rice, dried fruit, and coffee. Canned tomatoes, peaches, and canned milk eventually became available. Beef of course was plentiful and butchered on the trail as needed. Cookie knew how to prepare beef in many different ways. Fried steak, pot roasts, short ribs, and stew were common menu items. Cookie stocked a good supply of herbs and spices to flavor things up as fresh vegetables were not readily available. Occasionally the trail boss would stop to trade a steer for fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, butter, and other supplies from a local farmer along the way. 

Chuckwagons were Central to the Trail Drive

The chuckwagon was central to the trail drive’s daily operation. Cookie had a long day and was never questioned as the trail hands depended on him for their sustenance. Cookie was up before dawn to grind the coffee beans and prepare breakfast. After this, he washed, dried, and put away dishes and cooking utensils often times prepping for the evening meal. He put away all the bedrolls, food, and utensils, then hitched up the wagon to move it on down the trail. In the evening after making dinner, and cleaning dishes including general clean-up, Cookie would gather wood to fill the possum’s belly (a piece of cowhide stretched under the wagon to store firewood) and fill the water barrel. No cowhand in his right mind would mess with Cookie, not even the trail boss. After a meal, the cowboys scraped their plates clean and put them in the wash bucket that the camp cook provided for that purpose.

Sometimes Cookie would soak a pot of red or pinto beans during the night and during the day for cooking at evening camp. If the trail hands were lucky some dried peppers along with salt pork made the beans a meal along with the leftover sourdough biscuits from breakfast. 

So….What is Cowboy Stew?

What is Cowboy Stew? A trail hand’s favorite meal rivaled only by breaded fried steak and gravy was Cowboy Stew, popularly called ‘son of a gun stew’ among other more colorful names.

Many popular chuckwagon dishes were available when Cookie had time to prepare them. Among them was bread pudding made from leftover bread or biscuits, hoecakes from cornmeal, vinegar lemonade, fried apples, cornmeal mush, slapjacks, pickled eggs, fried cakes, raisin rice pudding, brown gravy, and chili. The chuckwagon era lasted about 20 years until the railroads expanded and cattle were transported in stock cars. Modern-day cowboy chuckwagon cook-offs are a popular pastime in our modern world, including BBQ and chili of course.

 

There are many popular modern-day chuck wagon outfitters who cater to BBQ cook-offs, chili cook-offs, camping enthusiasts, campgrounds, survivalists, hunters, and backyard cooks. Chuckwagon outfitters are even a favorite of glampers (:! 

Authentic Cowboy Stew

Authentic cowboy stew probably would have been cubed beef chunks coated in flour, paprika, chili powder, and salt, then seared until light brown in salt pork drippings. This would have been added to a cast iron pot and filled with just enough water to cover along with onion, herbs, spices, salt, pepper to taste, potatoes, and other root vegetables that Cookie might have had on hand along with a grain such as barley or rice; then boiled and simmered to make a thick broth. Perhaps some scraps from a previous meal and cooked beans would have been added to feed a large group of trail hands. Then the hungry men would line up and fill their large tin cups to the brim topping the stew off with leftover sourdough biscuits or crumbled sourdough cornbread. 

Photo Credits: Chuckwagon in the museum, Cowboys at camp 

Cowboy Stew

Modern-Day Version Cowboy Stew

Our modern-day version stays true to its authentic cowboy stew roots with some additions and variations. The chuckwagon has been replaced by food trucks, restaurants, and modern-day kitchens.  Make some today –Cowboy Stew Recipe.

Find out more about locally sourced Texas-grown foods here.

Cowboy Boots With a Suit, read here.

Famous Cowgirls, read here.

Find out more about Texini, the leading Texas lifestyle brand that is defined by its celebration of the Lone Star State's culture, heritage, and values. 

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What is Cowboy Stew?

A trail hand’s favorite meal rivaled only by breaded fried steak and gravy was Cowboy Stew, popularly called ‘son of a gun stew’ among other more colorful names. The stew consisted of cubed beef chunks coated in flour, paprika, chili powder, and salt, then seared until light brown in salt pork drippings. Cooked in a cast-iron pot and filled with just enough water to cover along with onion, herbs, spices, salt, pepper to taste, potatoes, and other root vegetables that might have been had on hand along with a grain such as barley or rice; then boiled and simmered to make a thick broth.