- Your mood sets the tone.
- Don't use plastic.
- Make introductions so that no one feels left out. Make sure to introduce people that you think will enjoy meeting each other (common interests, personalities, etc).
- Out of the bag snacks (nuts, pretzels, crisps) are elegant when put in a pretty bowl. In fact, place a few small bowls around the room.
- It's a little old school to sit at the head of the table. And, it will surprise and delight a good friend or guest of honor to suggest they sit there.
- Separate couples at the table.
- Your powder room says a lot about you. Provide pump soap, so that no one has to use a soggy bar of soap. Also, put out individual hand towels (either paper napkins or a stack of neatly folded hand cloths-wash cloth size works well. If using cloth, set out a small hamper for the cloths after use.)
- Give guests a place to hang coats, or bags.
- You don't have to have a rigid dress code, but give your guests some idea of the tone. Don't just say "what ever you feel comfortable in" as it can be embarrassing for a guest to show up under or overly dressed.
- Put out bite sized snacks. Its hard to stand and eat or make conversation while managing a sandwich.
- Get your playlist ready, or turn on Pandora so that you are not walking away from your guests to constantly fiddle with the music.
- Not everyone drinks alcohol. Put some italian soda, or sparkling water and juices out.
- Dim the lights, and light some candles.
- Put some lights or candles on your balcony/patio/deck so that the mood extends past the black glass of night.
- If guests seem to always get stuck in your kitchen, darken it and put the bar in the living room. But separate the bar area from the food so that guests mingle between the two. As well as having small bowls in between of nuts, etc.
- Thank each guest for coming.