It does not matter how many people you invite, whether they are acquaintances, friends or family members (or a mix of all three), there are a few things that you can do that will make everyone want to do it again.

First important rule: be ready! All the food is cooked, a trip or two to the kitchen will be sufficient to insure a good progress of the evening, the house is sparkling, the bathroom has fresh towels and little soaps, and you have a spot where guests can put their coats… Even if you spent an enormous amount of time to get everything ready, it’s crucial to look ready, cool and relaxed when your guests arrive.

Only the hosts should greet guests at the door. Introduce people to each other as they arrive and ensure that everyone has someone with whom they can start a conversation.

Bubbles and tidbits

Champagne is a great easy pre-dinner drink… Serve a half full flute to each guest. You only have to have one kind on hand. Or you can turn champagne or another white sparkling wine into a festive punch. All you need to add is a few ounces of Cointreau and ginger ale, served in a pretty punch bowl decorated with thin frosted lime and orange slices.

To keep your guest happy before dinner, serve a few tidbits. Now we are talking about small amounts of food, the idea is not to stuff them before dinner. You can find countless appetizers recipes, for example this recipe for bruschetta might be just the only inspiration you need.

Making a toast!

You have to make the first toast, after all you invited all these people! Wish them a warm welcome. If you have only a few guests acknowledge each one with a word, a smile, a wink. A joke (in good taste) to make everyone laugh will help them feel relaxed, but keep it short. And pleaaaase do not hit your glass with a sharp object to get their attention!

Break the ice!

Here is a little game to help you warm things up before dinner.

Have a little booklet (a few sheets of pretty paper tied by a ribbon) for each guest. In the book have the name of each guest and a list of sentences to describe each person. This can be as much fun for people who know each other as for people who don’t, all you have to do is write the description to fit the level of familiarity.

When a guest associates a description with a person, he/she must go to him/her and get the book signed.

When one of the guest has all the signature required he/she can ask anyone of his/her choice to tell a story. Be ready with a good story because chances are you will be selected for the task.

If you want to be remembered fondly, prepare a little food gift to give each guest when they leave. This could be a couple of cookies you made, chocolate truffles, candied fruit or something similar, small but special.

What music for the evening?

Once more it’s all about being prepared. Take advantage of today’s technology. A few days before the party ask your guests to email you their favorite song or music. Make a playlist of these and let your guests enjoy it during the evening. It might also start a few interesting conversations.

Have a wonderful time at your next party, I am sure it will be a great success!