Party Perfect

Tips for the hostess and Party Goer


‘Tis the season for office parties and family get-togethers and whilst these occasions are undoubtedly great fun, they can also be pretty stressful for the hostess.  The key is planning as far in advance as possible and keeping everything simple. 

·                    Planning a sit-down dinner for 12 people on a Friday after work might be too ambitious – instead why not invite fewer people for a more intimate meal or hold a buffet on a Saturday night when you have all day to prepare. 

·                    Decide on the menu several days in advance and then, next to each course, write down what you need, not just the ingredients, but the serving dishes and condiments required.

·                    Set your table early in the day .

·                    Do whatever prep work you can – for instance washing salad greens and then putting them in plastic bags in the fridge.

·                    Put out everything you will need for the bar – mixers, soft drinks, wines and spirits.

·                    Get the coffee service ready by putting everything on a tray.


There are many ways to set a party table, each lending a different atmosphere to the occasion.  Separate, small tables, each decorated differently, evoke a light-hearted feel and encourage your guests to mingle.  Choosing a long table with crisp, white linen creates the aura of the more formal dinner party.   If you need to rent or borrow chairs, drape the backs with large matching bows to create a more unified look


If you have decided on a sit-down meal, menu cards placed on top of each napkin immediately engages the attention of your guests and is a nice touch to encourage conversation amongst people who do may not know each other.  Depending on your budget these can be handwritten, designed on a computer or professionally printed.


When guests arrive for dinner they will often bring a gift but it is not necessary for the hostess to open this on the spot as this could be embarrassing for other guess who came empty handed.  Neither is it necessary to send a thank-you note as the gift was given to thank the hostess for the invitation.  However, it is a charming touch to send a thank you note if you have been a guest at a party.  Don’t fax or telephone your thanks – instead send a card which you have taken the time to hand write. 


And lastly, an important note to guests – it is extremely impolite to show up early for a party!