Think about the best times you've had around the table with friends—what do you remember most? Chances are, it wasn't merely a perfect crème brûlée. While a well-chosen menu can give rise to a good time, what makes an evening truly stand out is the camaraderie and good conversations guests experience in your home. Here's how to make sure guests can relax and enjoy themselves:
Bring It Down a Notch: You set the tone for the party, and if you're frantic about what's going on in the kitchen, your guests won't be able to relax, either. That's why it's important to stay within your comfort zone, preparing tried-and-true recipes you love.
See Spot—Not!: Some people simply aren't comfortable around pets—especially ones that love to sniff, nose, and rub up against strangers. Your best bet is to put your pets in another room for the evening.
First Things First: Yes—you may have some great stories to tell about the mishaps you endured during your home's renovation, but the house tour shouldn't be the first thing you offer your guests when they walk through the door. Rather, offer a drink instead. A thoughtful quaff—including a nonalcoholic option—will make your guests feel much more welcomed and at ease.
Dim All the Lights: Soft lights flatter those around your table. It's a true gift to make guests feel ravishing—and candlelight can help do it.
Don't Panic: If the soup scorches or the steak is more well done than you'd planned, make light of it and move on. If you don't let it ruin your evening, neither will your guests.
Move It Along: After a couple hours at the dinner table, move to the softer chairs in another room. Everyone will appreciate the chance to swap conversation partners.