Valuable party tips to help you throw the best bash of the year. 

1 Party Tips (Be a Host That Joins the Party)
Throw your next party with ease and style. You deserve to enjoy the party as much as your guests. Here are some tips and tricks from party professional Janice Houser with U.S. Rents-It. Special thanks to The Grand Cafe and Chez Monet Patisserie for preparing beautiful drinks, food, and desserts for this spread.  

2 Strategy (All in Good Timing)
Google and Pinterest are great for ideas, but they also make us think we have to make everything from scratch. If you didn’t make it, that’s OK. You made it all the way to the store and back! Restaurants and bakeries are also specializing in small finger foods and seasonal desserts this time of year, so why not order a few specialty items to save a ton of time? If you’re not serving a sit-down dinner, have your guests arrive around 7 p.m. This gives them enough time if they want to eat beforehand, and with the days getting shorter, your guests will be ready for festivities as soon as the sun goes down. Have the food ready early. With guests arriving by 7 p.m., have everything by 3 p.m.  

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
This is one sure way of getting your guests to eat their vegetables. Bacon wrapped asparagus bundles are crispy, yet tender, and make for a perfect low-carb party appetizer. Just toss your snipped asparagus in oil, wrap a few bundles in bacon, and bake at 400°F. Let your kitchen bask in the aroma of bacon being cooked. Your scrumptious vegetable appetizer will be ready to serve after roughly 20 minutes. Prepared by The Grand Cafe.

3 Budgeting (Don’t Break the Bank)
If you gather ideas when you get to the store, you’re bound to overspend, and some of the items can end up going unused. Put your ideas and budget to pen and paper first. For the home cooks out there, you can really save some dough by making dishes that include a lot of the same base ingredients — then you can buy these items in bulk. Serving alcohol? This is an area you should feel free to splurge. Desserts are also a great place to spend a little extra.

Mid-tier spirits like gin or Everclear are good fillers for making punch, but you don’t want to use anything
of lower quality.

4 Spacing (Where There is Food, They Will Follow)
Your kitchen is always the heart of the house, but if you don’t want people to congregate there, place your bar and food stations downstairs or in a separate room. Keeping your food and drinks on separate tables keeps guests moving and gives them the opportunity for a break in conversation. Open places also make for great spaces. Push your furniture against the wall or rent special furniture like tall tables, and utilize your garage as an extra storage room. 

Pimento Cheese Dip
Rich, creamy, and a beautiful pop of color, pimento cheese will entice your guests over to the food table. For the dip, combine some sharp cheddar, mayo, pimento peppers, and just a dash of cayenne pepper. Pair with a few veggie options for a bit of crunch. Pimento cheese is also a dish that can save time. Make or buy ahead of time and stash the cheese in the freezer until party time. Prepared by The Grand Cafe.

5 Presentation (Mix and Mingle)
Create a cozy setup and have all of your cordials displayed and ready to use. Even if some of the guests don’t use them, it dresses up the table. Nice drinking glasses and cute mugs can also make big improvements to your presentation. For the same effect, add something fun like rock or ribbon candy in the glasses. Old is back in, and it’s a great time to bring back antique platters and serving trays. Not only do they look beautiful and shiny on the tables, but you can also find some with covers that keep your food warm and block germs. 

Placement of food & bar is critical. You can also include social games for the right crowd.

6 Socializing (Mix and Mingle)
We’ve all been there. You’re a guest at a party with people you’ve never met before, and the dread sets in. Eliminate the awkwardness for guests by having a signature drink ready at the foyer or front door. This puts people in a social mood from the start and keeps them from wandering the room. If your party will be in two different levels of your home, mix it up with different styles of music for each. Music can help toggle the mood between moving those hips and enjoying group conversation.

Bruschetta Three Ways
You can welcome your guests with warm, freshly baked bruschetta. Not only is bread often a party favorite, but you can also entertain with a few different toppings. Divide your sliced pieces of bruschetta into three groups. Top the first with date jam and goat cheese, the second with cranberry relish and creamed blue cheese, and the third with hummus and roasted red peppers.Prepared by The Grand Cafe.

Have an appetizer your guest may have never tried before. Flatbreads are great additions to any party, but why go with the same basic toppings that you have year-round? Try topping your flatbreads with fig, goat cheese, pomegranate arils, and a honey drizzle. Flatbread, pictured on page 103, prepared by The Grand Cafe.

As hosts of your home, there’s nothing wrong with making the party BYOB. But if you’d like something to serve, go with a cocktail. Pour some mid- to top-tier liquor over flavored ice cubes, such as cranberry and orange or cinnamon sticks and clove. If you really want to mix up the party, use some infused liquor for your cocktails! Beverages prepared by The Grand Cafe. 

7 Delegating (Handy Hospitality)
Catering is crucial. There’s nothing that ruins a party like having to work the entire evening, and having help is especially important when it comes to cleanup. Working with a hard budget? See if there may be some college students who need a little extra money. And don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring something. For some parties, you can provide the meat and have guests bring an appetizer. 

Prime rib sliders
When you need a noteworthy appetizer for easy entertaining, you can count on sliders to do the trick. Make these in big batches at home or have them catered. When preparing your sliders, fill the buns with thinly sliced prime rib, peppers, and onion. Then, top with Dijonaise and provolone for a truly decadent mix of flavors. A word to the wise: Make your prime rib a day or two ahead of time. Not only should there be no need to rush the day of the party, but it also gives a little extra time for all of those herbs and juices to marinate the meat. Prepared by The Grand Cafe.  

Having your bread and cheeses pre-cut into triangles or different shapes also adds some texture to your presentation.