Top 10 Tips for Great Entertaining

Whether we are hosting a casual get-together or throwing a large party, we want all of our guests to have a great time.  Below, I have come up with some tips for hosting that special event that will help ensure your guests really enjoy themselves.

1)  Plan Ahead

Do as much as you can to prepare things before guests arrive.  Less time spent in the kitchen means more time you can spend with your guests.  So get that charcoal going on the barbecue, pre-make that casserole, have your appetizers ready to serve and be prepared to have a wonderful time with your company!

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2)  Consider Dietary Needs

When you invite your guests, ask them if they have any dietary needs such as being vegan, diabetic or allergic to specific foods. It would be embarrassing and uncomfortable for both you and your guest if you find out after serving a steak dinner that the reason Sue just picked at the side dishes was because she is vegan.  Instead, you may want to try a new vegan dish to serve to everyone without singling out your vegan friend.

3)  What to do with Pets and Kids

Your dog Sparky may be your best friend, but not everyone else will love him as much as you do, especially if he drools, begs at the table or jumps up on people!  Find a room or area where you can safely keep your pets away from where your guests will be.

Young kids often want to be where all the action is, so if you are planning an adult dinner party, you may want to consider hiring a babysitter to entertain the kids in another part of the house or, better yet, arrange for your babysitter to also watch your guests' kids, too, paying them more, of course.  At a more casual setting, such as a back yard barbecue, having games and activities for the kids to play outside can make it more enjoyable for everyone.

4)  Creating the Right Ambiance

Setting the right mood can really enhance the enjoyment of your gathering.  For a cozy atmosphere, candles, soft music and a lit fire in the fireplace add to a relaxing setting.  Other entertaining settings can be theme based with party d├ęcor and music, creating a festive atmosphere.  

Music should never be so loud that you or your guests need to raise their voices to be heard.

5)  Serving Alcohol

If you're serving beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages, it's best to make sure you have plenty of appetizers and snacks so nobody is drinking on an empty stomach.  It's nice to offer plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives.  And of course never let anyone drive home intoxicated!  You can offer to call a cab or let them stay the night.

6)  Including Everyone

People enjoy themselves more when they feel included.  Do pay attention to your guests and if anyone seems like they are sitting alone and not participating, you can go over to them and engage them in conversation.

7)  Introductions can be an Ice-Breaker

As your guests arrive, make sure you introduce them to everyone else.  When you make introductions, include something that the two people may have in common with one another, which can serve as a conversation-starter and ice-breaker.  An example would be, "Dan, this is Jean who works in the same office as me.  She's also quite a Star Wars fan, like you."  Or, "Amy, this is Angela, my next door neighbor.  You both have kids about the same age."

8)  Conversation Topics to Avoid

Although many people are enthusiastic about the work they do, it's best to keep work-related conversations to a minimum.  Most people would rather relax and not think about work when they are outside of the workplace.

Politics can be a very volatile topic and polarizing if people have different views of political leaders and topics so it's one that is best left alone at a gathering.

9)  Everyone is on their Phone?

This gets tricky as people are so reluctant these days to put their phones away, but it sure can make a lovely evening turn dreary very quickly!  Letting your guests know ahead of time that as you're planning a fun get-together, you'd like everyone to keep their phones on vibrate only and to keep use to a minimum for the evening.  Another alternative would be to turn it into a game.  Place all the phones in a basket or bowl and the first person to reach for their phone (barring emergencies), will have to host the next party or bring the wine for the next get-together.

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10)  Ending the Evening

Serving coffee, tea or espresso at the end of the evening is a nice way to bring things to a close.  This is a good time to bring out a tray of cookies or some chocolates, too.  It helps signal your guests that they should leave soon and avoid overstaying their welcome.  Be sure to thank each guest for coming!

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These entertaining tips were some of the best I came up with and I do hope your next event is fun and enjoyable for all!  If you have tips of your own that you'd like to share, I'd love it if you'd leave a comment!

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