Susan Mactavish Best, known as The Party Whisperer, shares tips for stress-free soirées ( livingmactavish.com)
Create the guest list like a recipe – consider what will produce interesting results. A party filled with the same type of person is astonishingly dull.
A large gathering is not the time to experiment with new recipes. Save that for suppers with close friends.
Write down the menu – I like to use a chalkboard. No guest wants the food on their plate to be a mystery.
Eschew place settings. Letting people sit where they’d like adds an element of kismet. You can still gently guide your guests to sit in certain spots.
Keep the styling relaxed. I always have some flowers spread around.
Avoid overhead lighting and stick to candles or gentle side lighting – your guests will thank you.
The role of the host is simple: to make sure your guests feel comfortable. This includes introducing them to anyone they don’t already know and making sure they don’t get hungry or thirsty.
Dinner parties are not about perfection. It’s okay to ask people to bring things or help you out, especially if you’re throwing an occasion solo.