When you're hosting a get-together, you likely spend a lot of time thinking about the perfect menu (what hors d'oeuvres to serve?), the ultimate décor (which centerpieces go on the table?), and the evening's entertainment (party games, anyone?). But while you're busy focusing on all the ways to be the perfect hostess when the big night arrives, you may be overlooking some things that will easily elevate your guests' overall experience.
Meet guests' dietary restrictions.
One of the worst experiences a guest can have is showing up to a party and realizing there is nothing for them to eat. To prevent that from happening, etiquette expert Myka Meier—author of Modern Etiquette Made Easy ($15.29, amazon.com)—recommends being proactive. "When a host receives an RSVP, he or she should ask the guest if they have any dietary restrictions or allergies and make sure there is something for everyone at the party," she said. "If you're unsure, make sure to have vegetarian options, in addition to any other dishes you choose to serve."
Avoid spending the whole night in the kitchen.
While you may be determined to prepare a gourmet meal that impresses your loved ones, spending the entire party working in the kitchen can actually ruin the event. "A good host is walking around the party making sure everyone is taken care of and having a great time, mingling, introducing party guests, and enjoying the party, too," says Meier. "If the host is stuck in the kitchen preparing food the entire time, or still setting up when guests start arriving, he or she can't be doing a good job." To prevent this, prepare as much as possible in advance of the party, she says.
Introduce guests to one another.
When you're hosting a party, you probably have a dozen tasks to handle. So much is already on your plate that you might think that your guests can handle introductions on their own—but leaving them to their own devices often leads to an awkward dynamic (one that can actually squash your efforts to create a wonderful evening for your family and friends). "When my guests arrive, there is an array of goodies to snack on throughout my home, everyone has a drink, and all guests are introduced to one another so they feel welcome and with friends," said Meier. If you're swamped, ask your partner or a close friend to handle a round of intros—and, when you are finally free, facilitate conversations so that everyone feels comfortable and included.