KELLY STUART FOR HEARST DIGITAL
When entertaining, DON'T:
• Make a seating chart: People will organically be drawn to each other, let them mingle and see what happens. "It's more interesting that way," says
• Obsess over a theme: You are creating an experience for your guests. Focus on what feeling you want the evening to evoke not a theme –this will help you plan other details as well.
• Try a new recipe: A dinner party is not a time to try a new recipe—it will create unnecessary stress and good food is key—stick with tried and true dishes.
• Underprepare: When your guests arrive you should be able to mingle as a guest. This means doing your homework and having everything ready beforehand. "Great restaurants run so smoothly because they set everything up in stations, so it's easy to access whatever you need for each course," says . "I never want people to have to wait for refills.
• Forget to stock the bar!: Drinks help the conversation flow. Home bar essentials include bourbon, vodka, gin, rum, scotch, whiskey and tequila, along with standard mixers like soft drinks, fruit juices, tonic water and club soda.
• Create a strict schedule: Being intuitive is part of being a good host. "It's like choreography," says Smith. "Knowing when its time to bring out the food or when energy starts to wane is important."
• Lack confidence: Before your guests arrive go through the evening. Is everything stocked? Does your home feel welcoming? Believe in what you have created. "If a hostess is unsure, then her guests aren't comfortable," says Susan Gutfreund
• Make it complicated: Entertaining should be fun, it's about spending time with you people you enjoy. "Everyone should remember that it doesn't have to be complicated," says . "Just order wonderful takeout, dress up a little and set a marvelous table, and no one will know the difference."
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