How To Host A Dinner For Friends Or Family

As the holidays approach, you may find yourself hosting a dinner party for friends or family. To ensure that this small soiree is successful and memorable, consider the following tips. Not only will they help you plan a fabulous, flawless dinner party, they'll ensure that you enjoy the evening while avoiding the stress often associated with entertaining.

Dinner party

Offer a variety of foods and beverages

As you plan your menu and drink selection for the evening, plan to serve a small variety of options. Kim Myl, owner of Lulu's Event Design, explains that it's proper planning etiquette to offer different varieties of food. "Always take into consideration vegetarians, vegans and any food allergies. Have a variety of drinks because not everyone will want wine. Perhaps serve some light beverages such as sparkling water, lemonades or even Arnold Palmers," Myl notes.

Avoid serving food you've never made before

Kelven Book, the events director for luxury catering company Canard, Inc., in New York City, warns against serving too many new foods. "It will just create unnecessary stress, and you can save new foods for a time when you hire pros to cook for you! Use standbys that are appropriate for the occasion. In fact, building your event around the foods you love will help give you direction for your party. At most, do one or two new items, but try them out on your family the week before, just to make sure," Book explains.

Serve a signature drink

While it may be unwise to serve food you're unfamiliar with preparing, you may try concocting a new, unique beverage for your dinner guests to enjoy. Book suggests serving a "house" cocktail and giving it your own unique name. "Make it the color of your living room wall or give it a flavor that sets the tone for the meal, but do something to make it special," he notes.

Create a warm, inviting ambiance with candles

According to Book, "Lighting is probably the most important piece of decorating, and it's just about impossible to have too many candles."

He suggests placing candles of different sizes around your home, saying, "It's festive, cozy, elegant and romantic all at once. And don't forget to line your walkway or driveway with votive candles. It will give your guests a lasting impression of the great time they had, as well as help guide them to their car."

Enlist the help of others

If you're busy serving a meal and drinks and cleaning up after yourself and guests, you'll have very little time to actually enjoy the company of your guests. Book recommends hiring someone to serve the meal at your dinner party. "Even if you adore cooking, don't create undue stress trying to 'do it all.' Guests will take their cue from you. If you are enjoying yourself, so will they," he explains.

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