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A timetable will help you plan a dinner party to perfection. You can adapt it to your own schedule, recipes and parties by working backward from serving time. Choose your eating time, then subtract the time each recipe takes to bake and prepare. Write down your timetable, allowing extra time for possible problems, and build in time so you can relax too. Figure out what time you need to start preparing each dish. I like to post my timetable right on my refrigerator so it doesn’t get lost. Make sure to check off each task for the party as you complete it.

If lots of people are in a tiny room, they’re going to need to loosen up a bit. There’s no question about it, alcohol allows people to approach and converse with others more freely. Pour your guests a drink as soon as they arrive, and then encourage them to refill their glass or the glasses of others throughout the night. Figure two to three glasses per person when estimating how much to buy–one bottle holds roughly four glasses. Obviously you don’t want to get people wasted and everyone must have a designated driver, but there’s nothing wrong with spreading a little merriment. If you’re expecting bottles that need to stay cool, use an ice bucket or cooler for drinks that people bring. That way they don’t need to be rooting around your fridge.

If you provide one fun cocktail, your guests will bring the bulk of the drinks when they show up with a bottle of wine.

Cool Suds Invitations Nothing says party like a tub full of cold beverages, this invitation is sure to bring thirsty people to your party.

DYO Foam Cups – with Design Perfect for parties, tailgating events, or every day dining. These personalized 16 oz. White foam cups will keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.

16 oz. Frosted Tumbler – with Monogram A very personal touch for parties. Our Design Your Own Tumblers come in a six sizes and can be personalized with a graphic and choice of ink.

A relaxed host and hostess is the key to the best party. Mastermind the mingling. Create conversation corners in your cocktail area. Instead of one marooned chair, think huddles of chairs. Try to seat guests with similar interests next to each other. If you’re enjoying yourself, your guests will be happy and relaxed too.

If the party starts at six, have a couple of people drop by at around three or four. You can have these friends or family members help you out as you prepare each of the dishes you’ll be serving at the party. Of course, since you’re going to be putting these guests to work, you’ll want to ask them if they mind coming over early to help before you simply tell them to show up early.

Think about how you want to decorate. Decorations for a party can be as simple as candlesticks on the table, or more elaborate streamers, balloons, flower arrangements, tablecloths, and even chair slipcovers. Decorate with the seasons too. Fresh flowers in the summer, a bowl full of polished apples and spruce twigs in the winter, or a vase with colorful leaves and cattails in the fall are simple and crafty. You can do shopping for staples, napkins, paper towels, and cleaning equipment, well ahead of time.

Design Your Own Cocktail Napkins – With Design The great entertainers! High quality absorbent beverage napkins with your choice of design, type style and ink color. Also available, an acrylic holder (not shown) to store your napkins in.

Personalized Colorful Party Napkins As Seen On The Today Show with Hoda & Kathie Lee, they are quoted as “The find of the season!”  Bright colored beverage napkins will dress up your holiday table. They are printed with your choice of phrase and custom line of personalization.

Clean, clean, clean! A clean house is not only welcoming, but you will feel more comfortable knowing that a guest isn’t going to come upon an unexpected mess. The kitchen and bathroom are the rooms I pay special attention to.

Setting and decorating the table and the dining room for your party is really fun. If your dining room can be closed off, set it a few days ahead of time. Keeping kids and pets away from a set table is important, so close the doors!

A few days before your party, it’s a good idea to go over everything again to make sure you have all you’ll need and that your timing is correct. There’s nothing worse than realizing that you don’t have an essential ingredient or serving utensils. You can prevent all of that with some planning.

We all drop a plate, turkey leg or a glass of wine from time to time. If someone breaks a glass of red wine on your white carpet because they bumped into the person behind them, shrug it off, make a joke about it and tell them it’s no big deal. You don’t want your guest to feel bad for making a mistake. It’s just carpet, and it can be cleaned. The “lighten up” advice also applies to the cooking process too. If the problem can easily be fixed, then certainly fix it. If it can’t, just get past it.

Keep it short and sweet. Don’t feel obligated to host the party all night long. Serve dinner over an appropriate period of time and call it a night. It will leave people eager to come back and it won’t exhaust you.

Pay attention to cues that the party is wrapping up, including ignored wineglasses, yawns and nervous comments about babysitters. Graciously thank your guests for coming and help them gather their things.

Don’t forget to serve coffee! It’s inexpensive and it is an elegant way to end the night.

As you’re all languidly relaxing over coffees and desert, quietly excuse yourself to organize the chaos. This does not mean clean. This means organize. You don’t want to alienate your guests, so simply wrap leftovers toss uneaten food from plates and stack up the dirty dishes in the sink, ready to be cleaned tomorrow. Have your garbage empty and ready for debris. If you have a dishwasher, be prepared by having it empty ahead of time. Some guests may even assist you as thanks for their dinner and lovely evening.

Now that the party is over and the hangover is creeping up, you kind of need to embrace the fact that your house is trashed and needs a thorough scouring. So go with it. Put on your cleaning music and change into some comfy clothes,

Celebrate sweet success. Once you’ve done a load of dishes, kick off your shoes, settle back with a last glass of wine, and enjoy rehashing with your spouse or co-host.

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