Get your home up to snuff. The house should be clean and the table, set. And, you should be ready to greet your friends and family when the doorbell rings. Plan the evening so that you can enjoy your friends and family. Too many hosts “work” their parties without stopping to really participate.
Make sure the kitchen is under control. Some hosts prefer to have all the cooking done ahead of time so they can pour drinks, make introductions, and mingle. Others feel that if you are serving really fresh food, you have to finish your cooking once guests are present—right before sitting down.
Introduce your friends and family to one another. Having taken the time to invite compatible guests, make sure they get to meet one another. In parties of less than 10, try to introduce each new person to at least one other. If you can’t do that as they arrive, take some time shortly after to circulate and make introductions as necessary.
Ask questions of your guests and listen to what they say. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that making and deepening connections is the underlying purpose of entertaining, whatever kind of event you’re hosting. Make sure you do that and help others do so, as well.
Know your guests’ preferences. Is someone vegan? On a wheat-free diet? Do your best to accommodate them, without making it too hard on yourself.
Don’t push alcohol on nondrinkers. And don’t out your alcoholic friends or family members to others. If you plan to serve foods prepared with either wine or liqueur, make that known to all your guests—not just to those whom you know to be nondrinkers, as you don’t want to single them out publicly.