Plan Ahead You want to enjoy your own party. Pre-make, clean, shop and organize everything you can the day(s) before so that you are not stressed out and can actually enjoy your own party. This is supposed to be fun for you and your guests and there is nothing more un-relaxing then seeing a stressed out hostess! Make a list of everything you need broken down into categories of food, beverages, rentals, flowers, candles, linens and so on.
Keep it Simple Now is not the time to try a new complicated recipe or that gorgeous floral arrangement you saw in a magazine. You will have enough to do the day of even if you plan and shop ahead so keep it simple.
Create A Flow Keep the bar and the buffet/appetizer/dinner table apart from each other so there is lots of room for your guests to mingle with ease.
Basic Etiquette As the host you are in charge of taking your guests coats (depending on weather) and making their first drink. After the first drink, tell guests to please help themselves at the bar.
Keep It Well Stocked Keep your eye on the bar table and buffet/appetizer table and replenish as needed. Also, make sure you have lots of ice on hand. Purchase the big bags of ice when you do your grocery shopping to save yourself some time later.
When Guests Offer to Help If guests offer to help, the general rule is if you are hosting solo, then give your guest a very simple task like opening more wine or replenishing a plate of hors d’oeuvres. Keep them part of the party. If you are hosting as a couple, thank them politely but let them enjoy the night. Tell them they can come and talk to you in the kitchen while you are plating something — you get the idea.
Background Music The music should be background music, meaning not too loud. The vibe depends on your guests and what you like. You know your guests better than anyone but if you are not sure than go for something that will keep guests relaxed and the conversation flowing.
1-2-3 Flowers Make something simple on the dining room table where the buffet/appetizers/sit down meal are. Use a small vase and add three large white blooms (like hydrangeas) for impact in the centre of the table. Keep the flowers unscented on tables that have food as the flower scent will compete with the food. It is nice to have scented flowers in your powder room. A group of one type of flower (like freesia) in white would work well.
Instant Ambiance with Candles Candles are an effective and inexpensive way to add ambiance to any party. You can use small tea lights in little glass votive holders available at most dollar stores. These are great to have in your ongoing “home party inventory” and can be used over and over again. Group votives together or place in a line along a mantel for maximum impact.
Lots of Serving Trays Mix and match your serving trays, but keep them neutral. White, glass and mirror are all great choices for serving trays. Have at least four different sizes and shapes of trays. If you run out, you can always use one of your dinner plates for a serving tray as well.