A well-executed party is one that leaves guests both wowed and completely at ease. It combines elegance and comfort, the memorable and the familiar, all orchestrated seamlessly so the effort never shows. How to achieve that? Here are six tried-and-true tips from those in the know.
Greet your guests with a signature cocktail.
This ensures that your first few moments together aren’t spent pondering the question, “What do you want to drink?” (Plus, you won’t have to stress over mixing individual cocktails.) For a festive holiday touch, try something bubbly and colorful, like sparkling wine mixed with pomegranate juice. Teetotalers can enjoy a version made with sparkling water.
TIP: Fill the glasses only halfway, so guests can cross the room without spilling a drop.
Create a few focal points as gathering spots.
Yes, it can be cozy when everyone congregates in the kitchen, but it can also be cramped and leave the few who can’t squeeze in feeling left out.
Place boxes of chocolate as edible spotlights that guide your guests to seating areas. A 24-piece box on the coffee table in front of the sofa; a 16-piece collection between two armchairs. The chocolate-hazelnut confections will get guests talking.
Design the dynamics.
If you’re hosting a seated dinner, don’t leave it to your guests to figure out where to sit. Instead, guarantee a lively mix of chatter and engagement with a well- thought-out seating plan. Put your most extroverted friend next to your shy cousin, or separate couples (don’t worry—they’ll survive for a few hours) as well as groups of colleagues who always talk shop.
Provide ice—and icebreakers.
Go over your guest list in advance and think about what people might have in common so you can make an introduction that will launch a conversation. Perhaps two guests who haven’t met before share a passion for opera or theater, both plan to run a marathon, or each is housebreaking a new puppy. Include the tidbits along with names: “Steve, this is Beverly. She wants to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, too.”
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