Have you ever been to one of those amazing dinner parties where everything just seems so… right? Like everything runs so smoothly and the people in attendance are awesome and the drinks are perfectly chilled and the food tastes like heaven? And the host isn’t even breaking a sweat. Must not be that hard, you think. And then you try it. And quickly realize that someone was lying to your face. What were their secrets, you think? How can you pull of a flawless feat like them? Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving for your friends or family or are just gearing up for a holiday dinner party, we’ve got the tips to help you pull it off without a hitch.
Set a theme
Whether it’s just a girls’ gift exchange or a full out holiday meal, mentally giving your party a theme to run with makes planning a lot easier—even if it is just for what you should search for on Pinterest.
Know your weaknesses
So you know how to create a seriously kick ass spread of finger foods in under 3.5 seconds but are totally useless when it comes to pulling together décor that doesn’t look like it was created by a class of fourth graders? Totally cool. But own it. Recruit the help of friends you know are great in the areas you struggle with and ask/beg them help out with planning or on the day of.
Getting the little things out of the way over a number of weeks leading up to the party can be a huge life (and sanity) saver. Stock up on an extra bottle of booze or an extra bag of chips each time you go to the store. Clean just one room a day leading up to the event. Get through any food prep that you can ahead of time. Basically, leave yourself with nothing to do but pick up the things that need to be fresh and deal with set up.
Set up strategically
Do your best to keep guests mingling and out of the line of traffic of people entering the party. Set up your bar as far away from the front door as possible so that guests have to walk through the room and greet people on their way to grab a drink. Then station food on the opposite side of the room from the bar so they will continue to mingle around the room.
Place guests with purpose
Don’t sit all of your outgoing guests at one end of the table and all of your shy guests at the other. Same goes for couples versus singles. Plot out your seating arrangement to maximize everyone’s comfort levels and to ensure that no one is stuck feeling completely awkward or out of place during the meal.
The best way to make your guests feel the most welcome is to never rush anything—including sending them home at the end of the night. Be prepared that some of your guests might want the party to go on a little longer than others. Make sure you are well-rested the night before the party to ensure you can last to say farewell to even your very last guest.
Remember what you’re hosting
It’s just a party, so even though you want things to be perfect (we get it), ultimately your friends or family are just there for the company anyway, so try not to sweat it.