Have you just agreed to host a large party? Is the mere thought of it causing enormous stress? Follow these tips from the experts to make entertaining a breeze. You’ll be a guest at your own party with a little advanced planning and a commitment to keep it simple.  The most important thing to remember is that friends, family and co-workers gather to enjoy one another’s company, not critique your cooking skills or home’s décor.  Put on a bright smile and gather your quiet self-confidence and you’ll be the host of the year.

Advance planning is the key to a successful dinner and critical for reducing the stress on the day of your function. If you’re entertaining a large crowd, the easiest thing to do is set up a simple buffet. If you have a separate dining room, that is ideal. Otherwise, it works perfectly fine to set up a buffet at the kitchen table. Identify a space to set up a drink station with water, sodas, beer and wine. This will need to be in a separate area from the main buffet table. That will allow for better flow and circulation for your guests. You don’t want a bottleneck of people surrounding the buffet when you’re trying to serve warm dishes.

Select three dishes for the buffet that can be prepared in advance. A lasagna, fresh salad and garlic bread is generally a crowd pleaser and easier to master. Otherwise, steaks on the grill, baked potatoes and oven roasted vegetables are always welcome. Try to avoid experimenting with new dishes for the party. If you’ve found a new dish you’d like to try, test it out on a smaller group of friends or family first.

Stack plates at either side of the buffet for easy traffic flow. Leave the silverware wrapped in napkins at the opposite sides of the table so guests won’t have too much to juggle as they serve themselves. A large bouquet of flowers for the center of the buffet will add to the festive occasion. After the guests have arrived, and dinner is served, be sure to preserve the memory with lots of photos of your beautiful buffet and guests. Good luck to you!

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