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10 Party hostess tips

Molly Cerreta Smith loves writing about all things mommy, parenting, food, health and travel. When she's not staring into the face of her Mac, she loves to hike, read, do messy crafts with her kids and compete in BBQ competitions with he...

Be the hostess with the mostess

Throwing a party is often more complicated than simply sending out invitations and setting out a few appetizers. Here are 10 tips to help you be the hostess with the mostess at your next party.

Be the hostess with the mostess

Make a list. Check it twice.

When preparing your invite list, double-check it to make sure you haven't inadvertently omitted anyone. Also, keep in mind that already-busy schedules get crammed during the holiday season, so send invitations out early so your party will be the first priority on everyone's agenda. Keep track of RSVPs so you'll know the head count when you plan for food and drink.

Prep the food.

Before the party, set out as much of the food as possible, so you don't have to be shuffling back and forth to the kitchen while your guests are arriving. You want to be the one who answers the door so you can greet guests, take their coats and purses, and lead them to the bar.

Don't play the bartender.

Speaking of the bar, don't spend the whole night behind it, or you won't have any fun! So plan ahead. Set up a serve-yourself beverage station with holiday-themed galvanized buckets full of beer, white wine and soda and water bottles. Open a few bottles of red wine, as well, and set them out on the table. If you plan to serve a specific cocktail, make it in advance, and set out glasses and a full pitcher.

Make introductions.

Forget hokey nametags and name games. The sophisticated hostess makes it a point to introduce new and arriving guests to the rest of the group. You don't have to make an announcement as each person walks in the door ("Hey everyone, this is Doug. Doug, this is everyone!"). Instead, lead the new guest to a small group of no more than four people with whom she will have something in common. Introduce her, and then throw out an immediate topic of discussion. For example: "Sarah, Becca, this is Amanda, my friend from the gym I was telling you about who has been giving me all those tips on how to tone my abs. Amanda, I've known Sarah and Becca since I moved to the neighborhood. We jog together in the mornings." Once they are chatting, you can excuse yourself.

Get the party started

Aside from inviting guests in and getting them talking, you'll need some entertainment. What that entails is up to you. Hire a magician, rent a karaoke machine or hook up the Wii and rock out with Guitar Hero.

Up next: the top 5 party hostess tips

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