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Things You Should Know When Hosting a Party

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Throwing your own holiday party this year? We partnered with Pier 1 Imports on this post that shows you how to effortlessly entertain your guests.

No need to run yourself frantic before throwing your next party. Take a deep breath and channel your inner zen hostess with these tips and tricks for making every visitor feel cherished. From big bashes to intimate gatherings, effortlessly set the right mood so everyone instantly feels welcomed. Along with creating memories with your favorite people, you'll feel relaxed enough to kick back and sip a few cocktails, too.

  1. Invite early: Send invitations at least one month before the event so guests can RSVP. Let friends know at that time if it's OK to bring kids — or extra guests.
  2. Dietary drama: Take the time to investigate any dietary issues your guests may have, and adjust your menu as needed so everyone has something to eat.
  3. Prep ahead: Make a list and check it twice before the party, prepping your entrées and appetizers as far in advance as possible. And it's totally acceptable to rely on frozen or premade items to help you save time.

Photo: Nicole Perry

  1. Be gracious: If a guest asks if she can bring something, have an answer prepared, such as a bottle of wine or a box of crackers. It's perfectly OK for guests to contribute.
  2. Stock up: The last thing you want is to run out of beverages, so stock up before the party — and then stock up some more. Along with having enough festive drinks, have a selection of nonalcoholic options for those who aren't imbibing.
  3. Get the guest room ready: Even if you aren't planning on having overnight guests, always have a spot ready. From a couch with extra blankets and pillows to a pullout couch in a spare room, it's nice to know you have space for anyone who needs to crash.
  4. Set the mood: No need to spend hours dusting every corner of your space. After scouring the bathroom and kitchen, dim the lights and set the mood with candles. If you're in a pinch, you can even grab some ornaments and holiday decorations from your tree to create a festive and warm centerpiece.

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  1. Count right: After making a final head count, determine the number of appetizers you should prepare. If you're just hosting a cocktail party, think 12 appetizers per person. But if you're hosting a dinner, around six apps per person is a good start. While you're at it, recount your place settings to avoid any awkward musical-chairs-style situations.
  2. Stock your bathroom: Double-check that the bathrooms are stocked with paper products and linens that are within easy reach.
  3. Be confident: Stop fretting over this and that, and be confident with your dishes. Your guests will totally overlook if something needs a dash of salt — really. They're more excited about enjoying a great party!
  4. Spread the love: Keep the party flowing by spreading the food around your space, which stops a big collection of people from gathering in one spot. Think about having appetizers on one side of the room, sides in another, and main entrées at the easiest-to-maneuver location — especially if you aren't opting for a sit-down dinner.
  5. Do something unexpected: Guests usually expect the same thing at parties, so find a way to make the gathering unique by selecting a theme, playing a game, or setting up a karaoke machine. It's a great way to break the ice and entice a bit of mingling.
  6. Skip playing bartender: It's tempting to assist your guests with drinks, but premixing a signature cocktail allows everyone to help themselves — and gives you the chance to chat with your friends. Leave wine out with an opener, and fill ice buckets with beer, creating a self-serve drink area.

Photo: Anna Monette Roberts

  1. Introduce: It's a bit time-consuming, but do take the time to make introductions when someone new arrives. Lead your friend to a small group of guests, and get the chatting started.
  2. Watch your drinks: As the hostess with the mostest, keep track of how many drinks you're tossing back. Tipsy hostessing doesn't leave the best impression.
  3. Don't hide: You might be tempted to take a breather in the kitchen after everyone has arrived, but push yourself to get back to the party and connect with your guests. Work the room and avoid spending too long chatting with any one group of friends.
  4. Leave the dishes: If you have a dishwasher, check in and load up during the party. But if you don't have the help, leave the dishes until tomorrow. No one will judge.
  5. Send thank-you notes: Sure, you hugged everyone goodbye, but send a personalized note within two weeks of the party, which is a lovely way to end a great celebration.

Looking for one more way to make your season sparkle? Watch the video below, and pin the how-to for later!