I seem to have one hobby, and it's throwing dinner parties. Per @Nicholas request, here are my main tips for throwing a dinner party like a real adult. All the pictures are from my black tie Christmas dinner parties of years past.
  1. Do everything in advance
    In order to make the party look effortless you must do as much as possible in advance. If you can cook it the day before, do it!
  2. Welcome drink
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    The moment my guests walk through the door I want them to have a drink in their hand. Having a signature drink prepared for the evening makes this easy. Doing a seasonally inspired cocktail is a nice touch, but I often just do champagne. It's festive, simple, and always appreciated.
  3. Set the table
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    Whether you are having a formal 4 course dinner, or a casual family style meal, it is key to have a table set with intention. Presentation is important, and it will give the evening a real sense of occasion.
  4. Seating chart is a must
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    Entertaining 6 or more? A seating chart is a must. The bigger the group gets, the more complicated the dynamics. Can't risk having friends who banged on Halloween last year, but haven't spoken since, accidentally sit next to each other.
  5. Food & Wine
    Food: cook something you have made before and have had success with. This is excellent advice that I don't always follow, and when I don't MAJOR stress happens. Wine: pair the wine with your food. Splurge on the first bottle, then skimp on the rest. After the welcome drink, and first glass of wine people don't notice the booze so much.
  6. Dessert
    As a lady who hates to bake I struggle with dessert for my dinner parties. I used to go store bought, but I feel it takes away from the evening when everything else is homemade. I have, however, found the solution. Ice cream! People are always blown away with homemade ice cream, and it's super easy. Minimal effort, major results. You have to make it in advance too which helps with day of stress. Some of my favorite flavors are cinnamon, chai latte, and carrot cake.
  7. Clean as you go
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    I think it's important to clean a little here and there as you go so you are not overwhelmed with mess at the end of the night. I have also found there are always a handful of friends who want to help to get a break from socializing. Fine by me!
  8. Games! Post dinner
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    If it's Christmas, white elephant gift exchange is always popular. If not, I say go for a round of celebrity, heads up, or good old fashioned charades. P.S. Looking good, @trevormorrow !!
  9. If dancing happens, let it flow baby!
    Most of my dinner parties end in a lot of dancing. I suspect this has less to do with the food, and more to do with wine...let it flow, I say!
  10. You gotta have help
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    Never hurts to have a party co-host. Thanks @Nicholas !