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Little Secrets to Successful Entertaining


However many guests you host, whether they’re acquaintances, friends, or family members—or even a combination of the three—there are certain things you can do to make sure everyone will want to say “yes” the next time you invite them!


Bubbles and Bites

Entertaining Etiquette

The cardinal rule is: Be prepared! The food is made, so just a few moments in the kitchen will ensure the party runs smoothly. The house sparkles, guest towels and little wrapped soaps adorn the bathroom, and there’s enough space for your guests’ coats in the closet. Even if you’ve spent hours preparing, you must be as fresh and relaxed as your guests.

Only the host or hostess should welcome guests. Introduce them as they arrive, and make sure everyone finds someone to talk to. Did they come bearing gifts? Put flowers in a vase, serve wine throughout the evening, and offer sweets with coffee. Move everyone into the living room for drinks and appetizers.

Bubbles and Bites

Champagne is obviously the pre-dinner drink of choice. Serve each guest half a flute, or lend a festive air to champagne or a nice little sparkling white wine by serving it in a well-chilled punch. Just add ginger ale and a few ounces of Cointreau, and present it in a punch bowl decorated with frosty lime or orange wedges.

To tide your guests over till dinner (now is not the time to stuff them!) offer a tray of light appetizers cut into holiday shapes with cookie cutters: Bruschetta, stuffed mushroom caps, seafood mousse, puff pastries, cocktail spreads—there’s no lack of delightful recipes!


The Art of Toasting

You’re the one hosting all these wonderful people, so speak up and welcome them! Greet each guest in a small group or flash each one a friendly glance at a large gathering. Put everyone at ease by telling a joke, but don’t go on forever—the night is still young! And please don’t clink your glass with the cutlery to get people’s attention.

Breaking the Mid-winter Ice

During drinks, you can suggest games to warm things up. For example, prepare “social notebooks” before guests arrive: In small booklets of premium paper bound with ribbon, write each guest’s name together with a brief description. These notebooks are just as fun for a group of people who know each other well as for perfect strangers. Of course, your descriptions will vary according to the degree of familiarity!

When guests match the name and description in their notebook to one of the guests, they must introduce themselves and ask for that guest’s signature. As soon as a guest has collected everyone’s signatures, he or she may ask someone to tell a story. So have a good story ready, as you’ll surely be asked to tell it!

The Art of Toasting

Red wine

Tasty Treats to Treasure

Time for after-dinner drinks? Invite your guests to a port tasting—blindfolded, of course. Buy three bottles of different vintages from different winemakers and pour them into three types of port glasses (so that only you know which type of glass goes with which port). Do a taste test. Whose tastebuds are keen enough to identify the finest vintage?

Top 10...or 15...or...

Once again, a little foresight can resolve a thorny issue—what music to play at your party. Take advantage of technology and ask your guests to email you a copy of their favorite holiday song a few days before the event (technophobes can simply ask for the CD). Make a montage of all the tunes and play them throughout the evening. Matching songs to guests will probably spark some fun conversations!



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