Throwing a dinner party this weekend? Getting jittery about hosting the next girlfriend get-together? Don't fret. Whatever the party theme, from gourmet dinners to cocktail parties, you're guaranteed to wow your guests with these five best tips from Shawn Doolin, the executive chef of Entertaining Company, a premier event-planning and catering business that has done parties for celebrities and politicians like Oprah Winfrey, James Taylor, Hillary Clinton and President Obama. No matter how star-studded or discerning your guests, focus on the fun factor — after all, it's a party. "Make it fun for you and your guest," Doolin says. "The more excited you are and the more fun you're having, the better the event will be."
"So much time can be saved by planning and doing things ahead of time. Who wants to be cooking while you have guests and drinks at your home? Make sure all preparation is ready two hours before the party starts to allow for any last-minute snafus."
"For a fall party, go outside and grab some beautiful fall leaves that have fallen from a tree and fill some vases, or make fall-inspired napkin rings. Be sure that your guests know the theme and are not trying to figure it out. The items don't need to be expensive, but go organic, and remember that it is all of the little details that will be noticed that bring the party together."
"Alcoholic or not, use your drinks to bring the guest into your theme. Drinks are one of the first things that come to the guests' hands, eyes and mouth. A great drink that has amazing color, taste and character can immediately make things lively and festive."
"I would suggest always getting inspired and grabbing ideas from all of the great social media resources that are available to us. Pinterest is a great way to find some ideas and make them your own. There are also great recipes and ideas all over the internet, so use all of your resources to get inspired."
"One thing I do not like to see is when the host is stressing, sweating and just not having fun while the event is taking place. So plan ahead and do as much as possible before the event. It should be fun and enjoyable, and all of that can be done with preplanning."
Here are a few of Doolin's favorite party recipes, all serve approximately 12 guests:
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