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Newlyweds Guide to Entertaining

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Newlyweds are often called upon to entertain guests and many have limited experience hosting house parties or dinners for friends and family. But with a few simple tips and an easy-to-execute plan, you can come off as the next Martha Stewart. Here is the Newlyweds Guide to Entertaining:

Choose a theme or celebration

First, you must decide what kind of event you’d like to have – an intimate gathering at your home or a blow out at a nightclub. Much of this depends on your budget and what you’re celebrating. An anniversary party might mean dinner for your closest relatives at your favorite restaurant, whereas your husband’s 30th birthday could mean a surprise bash with his best buddies in your basement.

Send invitations

People can’t attend a party unless they know about it. For a dinner party, you might just call friends on the phone a few nights before the get together and ask them to join you. But for a baby shower, for instance, you’d want to send invitations. First, you’ll have to make the guest list. Nowadays, you have many invitation options. You can buy old-fashioned packages of invites and write out the information or DIY invite kits and print them out on your computer. Or you can turn to online invitations and send them via e-mail. You can also make the invitations from scratch yourself. The possibilities are endless. Using photos or some element consistent with the party’s theme is always a nice touch.

Clean and decorate your house or venue

If you are throwing a party at your house, you must clean all the rooms that will be in your guest’s view. Many people prepare the food and wait until the end for the cleaning and decorating. But doing these chores ahead of time – even setting the table hours earlier if you’re having a sit-down meal – pays off. That way, you can focus on the food prep right before guests arrive. Pay attention to details. For example, make sure the bathroom is fully stocked with toilet paper, hand soap, and towels for drying hands. Consider the celebration when determining decorations. A dinner party requires a tasteful floral arrangement as centerpiece, and a birthday party benefits from balloons and streamers.

Prepare food and refreshments

Whether you have the event catered or cook yourself, the food will require some sort of prep – from actually making the Thanksgiving turkey to displaying the spinach dip you bought at Costco in the crystal bowl from your wedding registry. Choosing the menu can be tricky. Think about the theme and reason for celebrating. A luau means roasted pig and pineapples, and a party to get your friends to help you paint your new house could mean pizza and beer. If you’re cooking and you make a mean eggplant parmesan, then you should serve that. Don’t experiment with recipes for the first time on the day of a party. Consider the tastes and allergies of your guests as well.

Be prepared to entertain your guests

Sometime – as is the case with most dinner parties – conversation among your guests is entertainment enough. But if you’re planning a bridal shower for a friend, you might want to consider appropriate games, such as bridal shower bingo or toilet paper brides. If kids are coming to your party, you might put coloring books and crayons at their table or hire a juggler, which can be fun for kids of all ages. Strategically placed board games or an iPod playing some favorite songs are welcome additions.

Clean up after the guests leave

The most dreaded part of having any party, especially the ones at home, is having to clean up afterward. But if you and your husband or wife tackle this task together, you should finish in no time. Then, you can kick back, relax, and reflect on the good time that was had by all. If you planned you ahead, you also might have made one of your guests take charge of your camera, so you now have some photos to load onto your computer and share with those who joined the celebration.

Thank your guests

Guests sometimes bring hostess gifts, such as a bottle of wine or a cake. They might have also brought actual gifts, depending on the type of celebration. Be sure to show your gratitude by thanking them at the party but also by sending a written thank you card or an e-mail.
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