Move sofas, loveseats and chairs so they create a comfortable, casual seating arrangement where everyone can sit or lounge comfortably, yet still feel a part of the conversation. Add large pillows on the floor, and maybe a few dining room chairs with comfy cushions on them for extra seating. Make sure there are cocktail tables and accent tables around where guests can place their drinks and food plates.
Soft music in the background is perfect for a lounge-around party to add ambiance without overpowering the conversation. Use soft lighting or place beautiful scarves over the lamp shades to dim the lights enough for a calming mood -- but not so dark that people trip over the furniture! This type of atmosphere helps your guests to relax and enjoy themselves.
Make up a buffet table of delicious hot and cold appetizers for your guests. Include meats like chicken wings, buffalo wings and meatballs with a variety of dipping sauces. Add raw vegetables like carrots, celery, green peppers and olives with dips, as well as cut-up fruit. A variety of cheeses and crackers will also go over well. Breadsticks, pretzels, potato chips and nuts are also excellent choices to have on the buffet table as snacks for your guests. How much food should you have on hand? Determine how long your party will be and how many guests you plan on inviting. Choose eight to 10 different types of appetizers, and plan on each guest eating at least four to six appetizers per hour.
Sweeten things up by adding a small table of desserts your guests can choose from. Make desserts that don't need refrigeration, like chocolate cake, apple pie or brownies that guests can eat throughout the night. Expect everyone to sample at least one of each dessert, especially if the party lasts several hours.
Set up another table with ingredients for favorite cocktails, and let your guests mix their own. Have a few bottles of wine available, as well as your friends' favorite beers. Encourage your friends to help themselves to the drinks and food to keep things easy and casual.
Potluck parties are more fun when the host is organized and guests are well fed. Use these techniques to make your next potluck dinner a smash hit.
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