Make the most of your debut with this advice.

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If you're preparing to host your very first dinner party (or your first in a very long time, given the COVID-19 pandemic), you may be curious about what you can do to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Fortunately, many necessary tasks can be completed well in advance and on the day of, before your guests arrive, which makes things easier. Plan ahead and follow the forthcoming tips and no one will realize that this is your first rodeo.

fall tablescape decorated with dried flowers
Credit: Ryan Liebe

Think ahead.

According to Laura Maddox, an owner and partner with Magnolia Celebrates, prep work is key. "Do as much as you can ahead of your guests' arrival so that you are able to be present in the party," she says, adding that if it is within your budget, you may want to hire someone to help you with the smaller tasks, like refilling low cocktails and appetizers, which leaves you free to mingle.

Consider a caterer.

When you're running around preparing multiple dishes at once, you run the risk of a culinary mistake. Leah Weinberg, the owner and creative director of Color Pop Events, notes that there's nothing wrong with ordering in if you're still developing your cooking skills. "If you want to make sure the food is on point, then look into having a trusted caterer or restaurant drop off food that you can just reheat," she says. "And definitely over-order. No one is going to say no to taking home leftovers of stellar food, but everyone will remember if they leave hungry."

Go easy on yourself.

No party is complete without a mishap of some sort, notes Maddox. Whether it be a spilled glass of wine or a verbal misstep, something is bound to go awry. "I find that if you handle these situations with humility, a smile, and a little bit of humor, all is easily forgiven by them or by you," she says. "It's important to have a mindset going in that no party is perfect, and no person is perfect, but the purpose was to bring people into your home and show them love."

Get ready to clean.

Be ready for more serious accidents, like a broken dish, by keeping a broom and dustpan handy, explains Weinberg; with these tools nearby, you will be able to manage the situation without having to step away from your guests for too long. "Consider not using your finest tabletop items if losing any of them would be devastating," she adds; elevate simpler china with florals and unique linens to kick your dishware up a notch, instead.

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