Tip #1: Start cleaning your house a couple days prior to your party. Doing a little bit each day makes the task seem smaller and leads to less stress.
Tip #2: Have a theme or reason for your dinner party. Either coordinate the food or plan the meal around a fun activity. We like Fiesta parties with Taco Bars or PS2 Rock Band Parties with Rock Star Appetizers.
Tip #3: Make your desserts the night before. This way it's one less thing you have to worry about the day of your dinner party.
Tip #4: Get a drink in your guests hands as soon as they arrive. Firstly, it gives you a chance be a great hostess by getting them something and secondly it gets them in the party mood right away. I always try to have a variety of drinks to meet everybodys needs everything from water to various sodas, wine and the basic hard liquors for mixed drinks. I also like to offer a specialty drink to match the party. This may be as simple as pairing a great bottle of wine with your meal or mixing up a cocktail to go with the party's theme. (Think mojitos with burritos, or Pink cosmos for a girls night.)
Tip #5: Have a table or area for appetizers. Just like the desserts these can sometimes be made the day before, and having them set out prior to the guest arriving gives you more time to converse with your guest when they arrive and gives you guest something to nibble on until you are ready to eat.
Tip #6: The dinner Menu- Fix something you like, but also something you think other people will like too. Nothing too fancy that would have you slaving all day on, but at the same time no one wants to be invited over and then fed a TV dinner. Use good judgement when trying new recipes vs. time old tested recipes.
Tip #7: (Here's a secret of mine.) Utilize your crock pot. I know it may not sound fancy or Martha Stewart-esk, but Crock Pots are great to use if your oven is full with something else. Or, got those friends who are notoriously late to everything?? No hostess wants to be trying to keep their main entree' warm and risk drying it out while waiting on the latecomers to show up. Crock Pots can maintain the heat of your dishes without burning. All the while leaving you to play the roll of the perfect hostess, simply plate up and serve when you are ready.
Tip #8: Take the time to set your table and coordinate colors and dishes. Centerpieces are also a fun way to spruce up your table and can sometimes be a conversation piece. These extra details show your guest you've gone out of your way to make this night special.
Tip #9: Have some sort of entertainment planned for after the dinner is over. This can be watching a sporting event or playing a game.
Tip #10: Have your dishwasher/sink empty prior to the party starting so as soon as dinner is over you can quickly load it and get back to your company. Once the party is over you can get back to doing the dishes and don't have to worry about clanging plates or trying to hurry.
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