Host How I Host: Monika Shah of Present
Hosts with imaginations all their own
Founder of Present
"Getting people in a good mood is set with a great ambiance and food"
Catch our interview with Monika on The Partytrick Podcast
What's your process for planning a gathering in your home?
I start with the occasion! That helps me plan who to invite and what the menu should be.
What are your go-to party activities or games to break the ice?
I like to keep it casual. I start with light bites and drinks so people can move around and mingle. I always have light music play so there isn't awkward silence as ppl start getting in.
If you had a limited budget to put together a small dinner party, what would you focus on for the tablescape?
I love fresh flowers! So if I can't order a custom bouquet, I'll just pick some up from the farmer's market and add a few stems to small vases. It still looks warm and inviting.
"I'll just pick some up from the farmer's market and add a few stems to small vases."
What makes a great gathering memorable?
The people! But getting people in a good mood is set with a great ambiance and food.
If someone is feeling overwhelmed by hosting their friends in their home, what tips would you give them?
- Give yourself ample time to prepare. I think doing everything in the day leading up to the event is a bad idea. So biting chunks of the planning in advance will help you feel prepared as the event nears!
- Don't plan to cook every item you are serving. That's just too much unnecessary work. I'd pick 2-3 pieces you would like to prepare and outsource the rest.
- Make sure to get verbal commit from a core number of your guests before you set the date. That way you can reduce the number of cancelations and will help you to start planning ahead.
"Biting chunks of the planning in advance will help you feel prepared as the event nears!"
Favorite recipe or food to serve when hosting?
Ahh, I have so many! But I love making apps with puff pastry dough. It's something you would only eat at a party.
What is the soundtrack to a dinner party in your home? Have any favorite playlists?
Loving Rex Orange County these days. But Lo-fi beats to start.
What is your favorite partytrick?
I try my best to not let food or drinks run out.
About our host
Monika Shah is the COO and co-founder of Present, an AI-powered personal assistant for your relationships. She is a passionate builder of consumer-centric products and leader of high performing teams. Monika’s work has spanned finance, marketing and operations across a management consulting firm, and early stage startups. Prior to building Present, Monika was the first full-time hire and Head of Operations and Product for DTC personal care brand Oars + Alps which she helped usher to a successful exit in 2019. She earned her MBA from Kellogg School Of Management and holds a Bachelors of Science in Finance from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign.
Present remembers every important milestone & detail, and helps send a handwritten card or the perfect gift at just the right moment, in seconds.
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