Embarrassing party fouls you can avoid
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Easy Does It1 of 10
By Jenna Birch
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you're throwing a party: The guests bring more guests, the fish is undercooked and the greens overcooked, the bar runs dry. Before you panic, read on to find out the nine biggest entertaining blunders and how you can avoid them.
You're Invited2 of 10
The foul: Sending vague invitations that don't specify an exact arrival time—especially when you're preparing a three-course meal.
The fix: "I have seen invitations without the date or without the start time of the event," says party planner Lynn Easton Andrews, founder of Easton Events. "Before you go to print with any invitation, have several friends look it over to be sure all of the important information is included." Don't overlook details such as parking, attire and RSVP info. That way, there are fewer surprises—for you and the guests.
Meet & Greet3 of 10
The foul: Forgetting to properly welcome and introduce new guests.
The fix: "Graciously interrupt a conversation when a new guest arrives, so you can great them. Then, introduce them to people," says Kathy Bertone, author of The Art of the Visit: Being the Perfect Host; Becoming the Perfect Guest. "Put them at ease by helping to start the conversation." Once your guests have found something in common, you can move on.
Listen Up4 of 10
The foul: Not having any ambient noise (as in music).
The fix: "Create a fun playlist where the music starts out pretty upbeat, and then begins to pull back after the first 10 minutes—you don't want your guests to struggle to hear each other," says Easton Andrews. "After guests settle in and voices begin to raise a bit, they will hardly notice the background music."
Over Ruled5 of 10
The foul: Insisting guests follow your own stringent house rules (no shoes on the rug, no red wine on the sofa, no drinks on the table).
The fix: "Being a great host is more about your guest's comfort than your own," says Bertone. "It is part of the price you pay for entertaining. Make advanced preparations to put your mind at ease and reduce cleanup." If you're worried about stains, serve white instead of red. Other suggestions? "Put away any breakables or family heirlooms, put coasters about conspicuously, and close the doors to the rooms you don’t want entered," says Bertone.
In the Hot Seat6 of 10
The foul: Seating people who don't get along near each other at dinner.
The fix: "Seating debacles normally happen when you are rushing through the task," says Easton Andrews. "So take your time, start early, and truly give the seating the time it deserves. If you do find yourself at the event with a feud about to brew, ask one of your friends to discreetly exchange seating with the bothered party."
Ready, Set, Eat7 of 10
The foul: Remaining tethered to the kitchen all night.
The fix: "A well-thought-out menu makes it easy to prep the day before so you don't miss the party," says entertaining expert and caterer Denise Vivaldo, who has cooked for celebrities like Cher, Prince Charles and Ronald Reagan. "If time is limited, buy some of the sides instead of cooking them and just concentrate on your entree." Also, consider a buffet-style setup featuring dishes that can be served at room temperature.
Pound for Pound8 of 10
The foul: Running out of food, drinks or ice.
The fix: Always plan on having an extra half for each person. "You need at least 1.5 servings of everything you are serving, so that translates to 1.5 chicken breasts per person, 1.5 dinner rolls, 1.5 desserts, and so on," says Vivaldo. "So, decide on your portion size and multiply it by 1.5. Also, you need two pounds of ice per person at any party, some ice to chill and some to serve in drinks. This is an industry standard!"
Something for Everyone9 of 10
The foul: Not planning for special dietary needs.
The fix: "When planning your menu, go heavy on vegetables and have a fruit platter; experiment with gluten-free pasta or dessert before the night; avoid lamb, oysters or foods that are known to only feed 33 percent of the population," says Vivaldo. "And always have sparkling water, flat water, and soft drinks at the bar. Not everyone drinks and it's a smart choice for designated drivers."
Piece of Cake10 of 10
The foul: Appearing stressed and frazzled around your guests.
The fix: "Entertaining should be as fun for the hostess as the guests," says Vivaldo. "The problem is most new hosts try to do too much and get wrapped up in what they don't have instead of what they do." If something goes wrong, don't sweat it. Fix things as best you can, and focus on everything that's going right.