Do you fear entertaining when the festive season rolls around? You don’t have to be a glamorous socialite to make your party as comfortable for guests as possible, in fact, being aware of some basic party etiquette can make your guests feel extra-special! We introduce some ways you can hone your entertaining skills, and, as a bonus, you never have to burn a hole in your pocket to entertain with style.


Before your big bash

First things first. In the name of courtesy, do send out invitations early, as far as 3 or 4 weeks beforehand if your party is going to be held around busy periods like Chinese New Year, Christmas or the New Year.

About a week before the party, you should already have decided on your menu and what type of party you want to host. Cocktail? Buffet? A formal sit down dinner? A jaunty outdoor barbeque?

Preparation is key – do as much as you can in advance of the party. Should you be trying out new recipes, do a mock up in advance so you know you won’t have any embarrassing culinary disasters on the big day itself!

Acquire the essentials

After going through your pantry, write out that shopping list and zip to the supermarket a few days before the party to get the rest of your ingredients ready! Also, take inventory of all flatware, pots, pans, dishes and glasses you have on hand to make sure you have enough equipment to cook and serve all the food. Remember to clean out your fridge so you have enough room to store your groceries and prepared food for the party. Try to plan your menu such that you have foods that can be served at room temperature, such as cold cuts, cheese and potato salad. This way, you never have to worry about cold desserts melting or hot entrees getting cold.

This would also be a good time to stock up your decorations and other miscellaneous items like candles, disposable cutlery, napkins, extra napkin rings, placeholders, and perhaps even tablecloths and centerpieces. Fresh flowers can be bought a day before your soiree.

Entertainment-friendly arrangements

Your furniture is probably not in the best arrangement for a party. It would be a good idea to rearrange it so that guests have plenty of room to move around freely and mingle. Another possibility would be to create intimate clusters of furniture so that people can converse easily. Furniture is also as versatile as you want it to be – don’t be afraid of using furniture from another room as another serving table, even as an appetiser bar!


The Night Before

If you don’t want to be rushing around like a headless chicken, then get prepared in advance by laying the tables the night before your party. You should also have all placeholders ready so guests know the seating arrangement (if there is any).

Other preparations:

  • Utensils can be wrapped in napkins and corralled into a cute basket so guests can easily help themselves to a set.
  • Put out all serving dishes and glasses, and you could also add a special touch by preparing dainty little party favors. Find tiny gift boxes and fill them with a small keepsake. Then place these piles of boxes in glass or silver bowls and place them in the center of tables.
  • Also prepare a guest book beforehand and insist that guests sign it before leaving.
  • Select your music and place it in a stack or a multi-disc player
  • Fold napkins for an instantly elegant feel
  • Place little extras in the bathrooms like hand towels, scented soaps, lotions and mints
  • Fill a large glass jar with foil-wrapped candies and use as an affordable, eye-catching center piece
  • Chairs can be wrapped with decorative netting, then tied around the back with a big bow for a truly distinctive twist!


On the Big Day

  • Buffet style meals require crowd control – serve food on small dishes and preferably portioned or pre-cut to minimize mess
  • Have plenty of well-marked and conspicuous areas for trash so you have less litter to clean up later on
  • Never run out of ice!
  • To avoid mix ups, provide guests with permanent markers and plain white ceramic mugs so they can personalize their mugs. Also a great keepsake!
  • Wrap a long, black silk scarf around each chair as a decorative bow
  • Use glasses creatively – as cutlery holders, napkin holders, or even vases for flowers!
  • Have a ready supply of plastic bags and containers so guests can help themselves to the leftovers after the party