It's the festive season, and that means it's time to celebrate. Whether you are hosting Christmas dinner for the family, or an end-of-the-school-year party for parents, here are some tips that will ensure you are the perfect hostess.
1. Plan well in advance and make lists of everything from food and décor items to the guest list.
2. Don't try out a brand new dish on the day. Now is not the time to attempt new recipes – it'll stress you out, particularly if it doesn't turn out how you had hoped.
3. Plan a menu that allows you to make some of the food in advance. You don't want to be juggling five dishes at the last minute.
4. Do as much of the cooking, decorating and cleaning as possible, well in advance so that you are ready if any of your guests arrive early.
5. Use bowls of finger snacks, strategically placed around the room, to keep people circulating and interacting with each other.
6. Play background music that relaxes your guests and puts them in a good mood, but is soft enough for people to be able to chat.
7. If you are having a sit-down dinner, plan where everyone is going to sit and put name cards on the table. This way you can make sure that people who get along and have things in common sit next to each other so the conversation is easy during dinner.
8. Don't underestimate how much fun a game can be. Have cards, a boardgame or a game like charades prepared if the evening needs a little help getting going.
9. Once your guests arrive, spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, and as much time as you can with your guests.
10. Even if everything didn't turn out exactly as you had planned, never apologise to your guests. If you don't bring attention to the fact that the chicken is not quite as moist as it usually is, the guests probably won't notice.