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Party Entertaining

It's your turn to host the next party. Will you be serving a formal dinner for six? Perhaps you are entertaining more than a dozen people and have decided upon a buffet. Maybe the guest list includes more than half of the neighborhood, so you're planning a progressive dinner. No matter the size of the guest list, there are a few constants when it comes to party entertaining. If you have a party looming on your horizon, here are some tips that may help you generate more ideas to wow your guests, while maintaining your sanity:

  • Theme. A way to make a progressive dinner party even more fun is to center it upon a theme. For instance you could choose a theme based on a specific region, such as Mexican cuisine. At each house on the dinner route, have the host create a dish to reflect the theme's cuisine. The first stop of a progressive dinner should be the soup, appetizer, or aperitif, with subsequent stops of a salad, main course, and then the dessert.
  • Invitations. Extend invitations to the party via phone, email, or post. The more formal the dinner party, the more appropriate it is to mail an invitation. Make sure you list the start time for appetizers and cocktails, and require an RSVP at least one week before the date of your party. If your party is formal, it is acceptable to suggest appropriate attire.
  • Menu. Your menu should be suitable for the theme of your party. If your party is informal, it's best to have a stationary buffet. A small, formal dinner party requires a thoughtful hostess to supply the menu within the invitation. That way, a dinner guest may send his regrets for attending if the menu is not to his liking. Keep in mind the more simple the menu, the less running in and out of the kitchen you will have to do.
  • Playlist. Background music will set the mood of your party. If your party is centered on a theme, then the logical choice for background music is that of the theme. For instance, if you are throwing a 50's dinner party, play music from that era. Conversely, if you are hosting a more formal gathering, play easy listening jazz as a mellow backdrop for the evening. A family reunion dinner buffet for a large crowd will enjoy a more boisterous playlist. Keep in mind that you may have several generations of people at such a dinner party, so choose music appropriate for all.

Lastly, if you are hosting a large dinner party, make sure that you have adequate seating. While you might not have folding chairs for each and every guest, make sure that you have chairs enough for at least half of them. That way, when someone gets up to visit the buffet or bar, another guest can be seated for a few moments before mingling again.

 

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