15 Practical Party Tips
1. Don’t make things you’ve never made before. Be certain of what you’ll be serving. You can afford to be a bit adventurous, but don’t try out that “foolproof” souffle for the first time at your big party — save that one for yourself and a friend. Make a list of some of your favorite and tastiest dishes, and choose those that offer complimentary flavors. Be sure you can expand the recipe easily enough.
2. Clean your house a couple of days before the party. Yes, it’ll be a complete mess when the party’s over and you’ll have to clean it all over again. Save the really thorough cleaning for after the party. But don’t hew to the old wisdom of not cleaning beforehand because it’s going to be a mess within hours. You want to show your house off.
3. Set the table the day before. By then you’ll know who’s coming, so you’ll know how many settings to arrange, and you’ll know the theme (birthday, Christmas, a specific celebration like graduation). Add some simple decorations to augment the table settings if you like. But remember that the table should be somewhat clear so that food can flow around it. So don’t overdo the decorations; remember, less is more. Flowers are nice, but choose low arrangements for the center of the table; people should be able to see everyone around the table. Add candles if you like, to give your event a very special feeling.
4. Plan the guest list carefully. If you have friends you think would enjoy some other friends whom they’ve not yet met, a dinner party is a great opportunity to get them together. If you have friends who don’t get along, include only one or the other. It’s doesn’t happen often, but if you don’t take care with the guest list, a party can become a powder keg. Pay close attention to everyone’s religious and political devotions!
5. When you invite your guests, be sure to ask whether they have allergies or dietary preferences, and make a note. My Aunt Peg kept a card file on all her friends’ likes and dislikes — and that was in a day when you didn’t expect anyone to disavow meat eating. I don’t keep a file, but I do try to remember what’s what with my friends and, if I don’t know, I always ask. This way you’ll avoid someone going hungry or, worse, a party where someone doesn’t have a good time.
6. After you know who can eat what, plan your menu at least a week in advance. Be sure you take into account everyone’s needs (this can be challenging, but fun) and balance the menu accordingly.
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