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Dinner Parties, Part Two

So you’ve done all of your preparations and the guests are soon to arrive. Make some room in the coat closet or plan where you will put your guests’ coats, purses, etc.

By
Adam Lowe,

We’ll continue today with the second of a two part series on hosting a dinner party.

So you’ve done all of your preparations and the guests are soon to arrive. Make some room in the coat closet or plan where you will put your guests’ coats, purses, etc. We did an earlier episode on what time to arrive if you are a guest.

Welcome and Cocktail Hour

When your guests arrive, welcome them and offer to take coats, purses or any other personal items. You should offer your guests something to drink, and guide your guests to the hors d'oeuvres if they are not being passed. You will probably want to have an hour or so for drinks and conversation before dinner, so make sure your timing with the meal is good. It is important to have someone acting as a host who can entertain your guests if last minute preparations are needed in the kitchen. Of course with more casual parties, guests often end up in the kitchen, but don’t feel bad about encouraging your guests to sit and chat in another room, as long as there is someone from the hosting party to be with them. Open floor plans in modern houses may make this a little easier, as you may be able to have your guests out of the kitchen but still within conversational distance. If you are getting ready to serve, and you are still missing some guests you might consider extending the cocktail hour a little longer.

Seating at the Table

If you have guests that have had to cancel at the last minute for some reason, remove the extra place settings from the table, so no one is isolated or next to an empty spot. As host, you may decide where your guests are to sit, or you may let your guests decide themselves. You may have some general ideas of how you’d like to mix couples, or put people together you think would have a particularly good social chemistry. Whatever your choice, you should advise your guests before they are seated. The hosts traditionally sit at the head or ends of the table, but this is not an absolute requirement for a casual dinner. You should advise your guests where you plan to sit, as you will want to have quick and easy access to the kitchen or sideboards and may have to get up and down a few times.

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