Wow- have I made some major mistakes when entertaining. Some foods don’t hold well or look terrible on a platter. If you decorate with lilies, you’ll quickly learn that they have dark yellow stamens in them that will stain your clothes and tablecloths. When you throw a lot of parties, you learn what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t entertain often, these tips can help you learn from some of my past mistakes. 

    1. Prepare and taste all new recipes well before the party. This includes drinks. 
    2. If you are hosting a large party with lots of people, I suggest doing a trial run before party day. If you can, set tables, and place serving pieces so you can finalize your design and also determine what you’re missing. Look for areas of potential congestion. Make sure you have all of your essentials on a list.
    3. Have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available.
    4. Make signature cocktails weaker as the evening progresses. I always make two containers; one full strength and one half strength.
    5. Have double the amount of ice you think you need.
    6. If your party is outdoors, have a definite plan in place in case of bad weather or storms and make sure everyone knows what it is. Including “Rain or Shine” on an invitation for an outdoor party tells your guests you have a contingency plan in case of showers.
    7. If you will be standing for hours during the party, consider changing shoes to relive pressure points after two hours. Change back again after two more hours.
    8. Casually pick up all abandoned plates and glasses as you pass through the room. Take care not to make a big production out of it—a frantic hostess is a party killer.
    9. Check the bathrooms every hour to make sure you have no plumbing issues—you’d be shocked at how many times this happens at a party. Replenish toilet paper and other essentials as necessary.
    10. Pay attention to the temperature. As rooms fill up with guests, they get hotter. Especially rooms with lots of recessed lighting.
    11. Check the burn time on candles before you buy them and buy the longest burning candles you can find. Check candles frequently once they are lit. Have extras available or just blow them out once they burn down.
    12. A coffee and dessert bar is always a good way to wind down a party. Give guests a little something to eat and non-alcoholic to drink before the drive home.