Wednesday, December 7, 2011

101 Party Do’s & Don’ts

Appetizers for your party – Rosemary and Parmesan Crackers or Pear Rosemary and Goat Cheese Foccacia

I was looking for a recipe and came across this old House Beautiful magazine where these awesome 101 Party Do’s & Don’ts were given out and I could not stop reading and decided to share this with the group as the holiday season is here and we are all either hosting parties or attending lots of parties and sometimes a little advice is good.

House Beautiful’s magazine asked designers, event planners, and bloggers for advice about how to host a successful party and they share their easy tips for setting a stunning dinner table, creating an inviting space for guests, making the perfect playlist, and more.

Some of these parties are great and some of them I do not agree with but they are all still good to read.  #9 for example I do all the time – unfortunately my guest are always guinea pigs when it comes to recipes, I just can’t help myself.

Any others you can add to this list that you live by?

101 Party Do’s & Don’ts

Adapted from: House Beautiful

  1. Create a Playlist – Create a music playlist that’s ready to begin as soon as the doorbell rings and doesn’t end until the last guest departs.
  2. Set the Mood – The host’s mood sets the tone.
  3. Make Room for More – Do always include the single friend or extra surprise guest, even if it’s 13 at your table. You can always make room, slice the roast a little thinner.
  4. Learn the Art of Conversation – Don’t be a bore. Don’t monopolize the conversation.
  5. Loosen Up – Have a stiff drink before anyone arrives. If you are having fun, everyone will have fun.
  6. Serve Food at Proper Temperatures – Warm plates before serving hot food on them.
  7. Remember to Iron – Crispy ironed linens! There is nothing so luxurious as to sit at a table with a lovely ironed tablecloth and spread an ironed napkin over your lap.
  8. Charm the Host – Don’t come to a party empty-handed.
  9. Don’t Recipe Search on Party Day – Don’t try a new recipe at a party.
  10. Use YourChina- Don’t use plastic.
  11. Send out a proper invite. A handwritten one is preferable, but the online versions at PaperlessPost are quite wonderful.”
  12. Serve Appetizers Family-Style – Serve the first course family-style by placing platters on the table for everyone to share. It gives you time to work on your next course.
  13. Play with the Centerpiece – Flowers are overused as centerpieces. Use seasonal fruit, a tureen, or an interesting sculptural centerpiece instead.
  14. Host an Intimate Dinner – The perfect number for a dinner party is six to eight. You want festive conversation, but not so many people that the conversations are always split up.
  15. Set Up a DIY Cocktail Bar – Let guests make their own cocktails. I have a few favorite recipes on cards, and all the ingredients on hand. People mix and shake and think it’s super-fun.
  16. Don’t Delay Dinner for Tardy Guests – Don’t wait for late guests. People resent being hungry.
  17. Arrive on Time – Don’t be late.
  18. Follow the One-Bite Rule – Keep hors d’oeuvres to one bite. No one wants to talk or kiss with a mouthful.
  19. Add a Light – We all look better with light on our faces. Put lamps on your buffet or server.
  20. Don’t Serve Only White Liquors – Don’t serve only white liquors because you’re afraid of spills.
  21. Do Serve Only White Liquors – My grandmother, who did an awful lot of entertaining, said: ‘Serve only white-colored liquors and wines so they don’t stain.
  22. Make More Than Enough Ice – Never, never, never run out of ice.
  23. Set Table Properly – Don’t face the knife blade out. Rules are made to be broken, but that’s not one of them.
  24. Introduce Other Guests – Always, always make introductions. If you’re going to make a guest feel alienated, why invite them?
  25. Have Appropriate Timing for Flower Deliveries – If you are sending flowers as a thank-you, don’t send them the same day as the dinner. Much better to send two days before or two days after.
  26. Prepare Naughty and Nice Desserts – Offer a choice of desserts — something sweet and sinful like a peach crisp with vanilla ice cream and something lighter like poached pears. Guests usually take some of each.
  27. Adults Only, Please – Look, I know your child is adorable. I know your dog is even more adorable and not given to begging at the table. Still, both parties would be better off having their own party in another room (like the kitchen) and, ideally, at a different time (like before the guests arrive).
  28. Keep Champagne on Hand – You should always have a cold bottle of bubbly stashed in your refrigerator in case friends drop by, and a bottle of something sparkly for nondrinkers.
  29. Give Out Party Favors – Always do favors. People love leaving with a little something.
  30. Don’t Be Rude – Turn off cell phones!
  31. Dress Up Catered Food – Serve takeout on your finest china.
  32. Create Ambience – I cannot tell you how many parties with great food have been ruined by operating-room lighting. Atmosphere is half the battle. A low-lit atmosphere with candles can even give pizza old-movie glamour.
  33. Make Clean-Up Simpler – Always start with an empty dishwasher.
  34. Entertain on Any Budget – Don’t be afraid to throw a party because you think it will cost too much. You can have a good time for $10 with a bottle of wine and a bag of nuts.
  35. Encourage Friendly Conversation – Seat guests next to someone they know and someone they’d enjoy meeting.
  36. Keep Flowers Low – Don’t create such impressive centerpieces that the guests can’t see each other across the table.
  37. Keep the Lights On – Light up the backyard so there won’t be a big black hole outside your windows.
  38. Linger at the Table – Don’t tidy up the table too soon. Once the plates are cleared away, often so is the mood.
  39. Equip the Powder Room Appropriately – Put individual guest napkins in the powder room (prevents yucky overused guest towels). And a soap pump (no gooey soaps).
  40. Control the Volume – Music should be just loud enough so that people have to talk above it slightly.
  41. Seat Guests Wisely – People with big personalities are best in the center of the table. They can help carry the conversation from that place.
  42. Be Inclusive – Don’t discuss topics that exclude others. It’s a surefire way to deflate a party.
  43. Stick with Simple Food – Make a home-cooked meal, even if it’s just a bowl of chili and a salad with garlic bread. There’s nothing better than simple and delicious.
  44. Keep an Upbeat Attitude – In case of an entertaining crisis, take a deep breath and ask, ‘What would Auntie Mame do?’ If a guest accidentally breaks something, regardless of value, simply say, ‘Thank you. I’ve been looking for a reason to replace that old thing.’
  45. Mix and Mingle – If you’re throwing a cocktail party, have fewer chairs than people. This will force your guests to circulate and mingle the good old-fashioned way.
  46. Find Ways to Break the Ice- I discovered early on that the best parties involve a certain amount of serendipity. I try not to have everything done when the guests arrive so that people can pitch in and help in the kitchen. It’s a great ice-breaker.
  47. Prep Ahead – Get everything ready the day before.
  48. Check in with Guests – Ask people ahead of time for their food preferences: Do they eat meat? Do they drink? Do they have any food allergies? It sounds stupid but believe me, nowadays these can ruin a dinner party.
  49. Choose Proper Lighting – No colored candles! Only ivory and white.
  50. Use Place Cards – Don’t expect guests to seat themselves — it’s your dining room, not Southwest Airlines. Placement is key to great conversations and something you don’t leave to chance.
  51. Have Drinks Ready – Have beverages visible from the moment guests step in the door.
  52. Anything Goes – Don’t take yourself too seriously. Anything goes these days with your table decor and menu, so have fun.
  53. Mix “Mocktails” – Not everyone drinks alcohol. Have fresh-squeezed juices and other delicious choices so you can mix a ‘mocktail’ or two.
  54. Write on Both Sides of Place Cards – Make sure place cards have first and last names, written legibly, on both sides, so guests know the names of people sitting opposite.
  55. Use Cloth Napkins – Never use paper napkins.
  56. Have a Backup Plan – Have Seating Plan B. If one of your guests is iffy on attending, or if two you’ve seated together spend the entire cocktail hour huddled together, be prepared for an alternative arrangement. Keep it simple: You don’t want to relocate the whole table.
  57. Use the Good China Outdoors – Don’t be afraid to use your finest china, silverware, and crystal pieces outdoors. It can make a casual event a bit more special.
  58. Write Yourself Notes – Buy a pad of sticky notes and write everything down that you need to do. Stick them all around the kitchen. When you finish a task, take down that note.
  59. UseCrystalDishes – When I was inItalyone summer, our hosts served cashews and potato chips in crystal bowls while we sipped Prosecco. It was a revelation: right-out-of-the-bag snacks become sophisticated when they’re served in a gorgeous dish.
  60. Be Ready When Guests Arrive – Plan ahead! There’s nothing worse than greeting your guests while you’re still trying to light the candles, turn on the music, and get dressed.
  61. Seat People Closely – Crowd the table a little: With more people at the table, no one can ignore their neighbor.
  62. Stream Music – If you don’t have time to create your own playlist, log on to
  63. Stock Up on Essentials – Have enough of everything on hand. Nothing worse than running out of anything, whether Perrier or loo paper.
  64. Give a Dress Code – Give your guests an idea of what to wear. Never say, ‘Whatever you’re comfortable in’ unless you don’t mind them coming in their PJs.
  65. Don’t Give a Dress Code – Don’t impose a dress code on people. What is dressy attire anymore? Forget it — leave them to their own devices and just see what turns up.
  66. Seat Couples Separately – Separate couples when seating a dinner.
  67. Serve on Separate Plates – Don’t do family-style for larger events. By the time you finish picking up, passing, waiting for everybody to serve themselves, your food is cold and you’re hungry.
  68. Freeze Your Candles – Stick your candles in the freezer for a couple of days prior to using them. The freezing will eliminate most of the messy dripped wax all over your furniture.
  69. Don’t Be Stuffy – Elegance: YES. Fussiness: NO!
  70. Have Drinks Prepared – Nothing is worse than a long wait for a drink. Drinks should be plentiful and easily accessible, with a couple of good seasonal options.
  71. Take Photos – Record everything about every party with a notebook and a digital camera. It will prevent you from repeating menus and seating arrangements. Add your personal comments about the hits and the misses. You’ll thank yourself!
  72. Don’t Cancel – Don’t cancel a dinner invitation the day of the dinner unless you are on an IV drip in a hospital.
  73. Balance Hors d’Oeuvres – If you are having an elaborate dinner, then keep your hors d’oeuvres simple. And if you are planning an easy dinner, make your hors d’oeuvres a little fancier.
  74. Write Thank-You Notes – Handwritten thank-you notes after being entertained are a must.
  75. Keep It Casual – Don’t ever make it feel formal — it’s such a snooze.
  76. Have Extra Seating – There should be lots of seats to pull up — or perches abounding — but scattered around the perimeter of the space so as not to block the party’s traffic flow.
  77. Rearrange Minimally – Don’t rearrange the chairs all against the wall just because you are having a large party. People like to see a beautiful interior.
  78. Sit Next to Your Guests – As a host, don’t sit at the head of the table — presumptuous and archaic.
  79. Dress Up – Glamorous informality is the name of the game. Dress up, even if you are serving hot dogs!
  80. Stock the Bar – Don’t run low on the hooch!
  81. Avoid Scented Candles – Unscented candles, please!
  82. Use Pink Bulbs – Switch lamp bulbs to pale pinks, which make everyone look great.
  83. Make Extra Food – Don’t be stingy with your food and beverages. Like my old Italian grandma used to say, ‘I’d rather have lots of leftovers than have someone leave my party hungry.’
  84. Have Snacks Handy – Keep cocktail nuts and a stocked bar so you’re always prepared for last-minute guests.
  85. Use WhiteChina- You can never have too many white plates, platters, and bowls.
  86. Make Dessert – Serve an amazing dessert. Even the worst main course will be forgotten if it’s followed by a spectacular dessert. Extra points for making it yourself.
  87. Use a Secret Ingredient – Serve at least one course with a secret-weapon ingredient that makes everyone swoon trying to guess what it is, like David Monn’s rose-petal jam added to his angel food cake, or Naeem Khan’s muddled kumquat cocktails.
  88. Invite Pets – If you’re a pet owner, extend an invitation to your friends’ dogs. It makes for lively conversation and your guests feel instantly at home.
  89. Pamper Guests – Never underestimate the power of a great powder room. It is your gift to your guests. Every detail will be noticed, and it will reveal much about you, so don’t skimp.
  90. Make a Mobile Bar – Ever notice how guests love to gather in the kitchen? To disperse the crowd, place a bar somewhere in the corner of your living room and rearrange furniture to create a few different conversation spots.
  91. Keep a Clean Work Area – Clean as you go! That way you’re not left with a kitchen that looks like a tornado made dinner.
  92. Turn Down the Lights – Dim the lights or change all the bulbs to 25 watts or less.
  93. Switch Scenery – Move to another room for dessert and coffee. A new atmosphere keeps the flow of the evening going.
  94. Don’t Disrupt Conversation – Don’t move people around too much. If you move people off the dining table it can be sort of a cue to leave and can break up the conversations.
  95. Stick with Simple, Salty Appetizers – Keep the hors d’oeuvres simple and minimal — something salty and crunchy is always a good idea. We keep good Dufour puff pastry in our freezer and can whip up a batch of cheese straws at a moment’s notice. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on a cutting board. Lay a sheet of pastry on top and sprinkle more cheese over it. Roll the dough out about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into long strips and twist, like a corkscrew. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven until golden and crisp.
  96. Let Guests Seat Themselves – Don’t use assigned seating — allow guests to mingle and let the evening evolve organically.
  97. Mix and MatchChina- Don’t set the table with a single pattern of china or silver, as though you just unearthed your bridal registry. Mix it up, get creative.
  98. Use Matching Glasses – If you mix and match the china, keep the glassware and flatware consistent.\
  99. Don’t Always Eat at the Dining Table – Don’t be afraid to set up a dinner table in an unconventional or ?not-the-usual spot for a more interesting dinner or lunch — in the library ?among the books, out on a porch.
  100. Use a Coatrack – Provide a place to hang coats and leave bags. If you don’t have extra room in your closets, put out a folding coatrack with matching coat hangers.
  101. Bid Farewell – Don’t leave without saying good-bye to the host.

One Year Ago:  Perfect Gift for Him & Her

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19 Responses to “101 Party Do’s & Don’ts”

  1. 1

    Katherine Martinelli — December 8, 2011 @ 12:44 am

    Wow, what a list! I definitely don’t iron, well, anything. Everything I own is mismatched. I’ve never sent flowers as a thank you for dinner in my life, or sent out paper invitations to dinner. This is all very formal!! Some good tips in there too, though, and a fun read for sure. Thanks for sharing 😀

  2. 2

    Janell Beals — December 8, 2011 @ 6:04 am

    Great list, I’m saving it, thanks for Sharing!! Janell

    Happy Holidays!

  3. 3

    Megan's Cookin' — December 8, 2011 @ 7:23 am

    What a terrific post! We can all use these tips.Stumbled

  4. 4

    Divya @flavourfiesta — December 8, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    That’s a fantastic list for anyone that does a fair bit of entertaining. I especially like number 33 – definitely saves a huge amount of time in the long run.

  5. 5

    Oh, It's Just Perfect! — December 8, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

    So many great pieces of advice!! Although, I do like assigned seating. It just seems to be easier 🙂

  6. 6

    Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking — December 8, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

    What a GREAT list! I never would have thought to use pink lightbulbs and I love that “secret ingredient” idea!
    New to your site and I’m glad I found you!

  7. 7

    veronica lee — December 9, 2011 @ 6:13 am

    Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog!
    Have a nice day!

  8. 8

    Laura Casey — December 9, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    These tips are priceless! Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. 9

    Sommer@ASP — December 9, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    That is a great list of tips! Good reminders as party season starts. 🙂

  10. 10

    Magic of Spice — December 9, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

    Wow that is some list! I love #15 and will be trying that one this year 🙂
    Hope you have an amazing weekend

  11. 11

    Sissi — December 10, 2011 @ 1:56 am

    Excellent tips! There are several I should write down and take out and practice every time I have guests (like the empty dish washer or not trying new recipes…). I am happy to see that unconsciously I practice one of the tips: having a glass of alcohol before the guests arrive. It makes me feel less nervous.
    I must try the DIY cocktails idea.
    Thank you for visiting my blog, I’m very happy to discover yours.

  12. 12

    Sanjeeta kk — December 10, 2011 @ 7:00 am’s an impressive list of dos and don’ts!

  13. 13

    Demi Fae — December 11, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

    I love this post so much!!I have found it very helpful…Thanks a lot for letting us know about it…

  14. 14

    Nami | Just One Cookbook — December 12, 2011 @ 2:12 am

    Thanks for sharing this list – I have to say I may not be a perfect host after reading this list and even feel a little bit embarrassed. =P But I didn’t know where to begin and this works as a great checklist.

  15. 15

    Cristina, from Buenos Aires to paris — December 18, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    Wow!! These tips are fantastic !! I’m printing this!

  16. 16

    Kristel Mae — December 18, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    Thanks for the dos and don’ts you have shared this post and for sure this is a help…

  17. 17

    Jenny Mae — December 25, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    This is definitely delicious!!

  18. 18

    No-Bake Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Tart — November 26, 2012 @ 4:00 am

    […] holiday season is upon I want to share a few Do’s and Don’ts.  Last year i wrote about 101 Party Do’s and Don’ts! It is a great list and fun to read! But out of those here are my 5 tops ones that i swear by. 1. […]

  19. 19

    Poppell — January 4, 2015 @ 8:17 am

    There is certainly a lot to know about this issue. I love all of the points you have made.

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