One of the worst things you can do as guests take their first bite is to apologize for something you feel might have gone wrong in the kitchen. You might know that you ran out of Gruyère and had to substitute with cheddar or that the meringue on your tarts don't look like they're supposed to, but your guests don't need to know that. Relax and let them enjoy the meal you've created without apologizing, which just makes people uncomfortable and creates an awkward atmosphere.
We know you want people to have a good time and enjoy their meal, but if someone is full, don't pressure them into taking more than they have room for. There's no need to be offended if someone doesn't take seconds — everyone has a different idea of portion size. The same goes for alcohol: If someone says no to a cocktail or refill of wine, accept that they're done, and don't make them feel bad for switching to tea or water.
Remember that you're the host of the party, not just the one responsible for making the meal. If you don't think you have time to make the main, sides and dessert, don't be afraid to ask guests to contribute something. Chances are they'll be happy to lend a hand. That way, during the party you can mix and mingle and make sure everyone is having a good time, rather than spend the bulk of your time away from the action.
Anything you can do to get it out of the way before guests arrive, do it. This means chopping vegetables, toasting nuts or seeds, grating cheese and getting out any ingredients you'll need to put your dishes together before serving them. If you're having soup, make it in the afternoon, and reheat it when guests arrive. The same goes for any one-pot meals or casseroles. The party will go a lot smoother if you tackle the bulk of your responsibilities early in the day.
As stressful as it can sometimes feel to plan and execute a dinner party (whether it's for four people or 14), remember that it's your party too, so you should enjoy yourself. Try not to get so caught up with making sure everyone is having a good time that you forget to relax. The best hosts are the ones guests can see are having just as much fun as they are.
What are your best dinner party hosting tips? Share in the comments below!
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