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15 Simple Dinner Party Ideas

Clever tips and foolproof strategies for making holiday (or any-day) entertaining a breeze. 

Party bar cart
David Meredith
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Let the Bar Beckon

For the smoothest entry, give arriving guests a clear destination. A cart or a small table done up with essentials (plus flowers and a kooky conversation piece) is a friendly oasis, and it frees you to scurry back to the kitchen if needed. Try to offer bar access from more than one side, to prevent traffic jams. Stock generously (chill white wine two hours in advance) so guests won’t need to come looking for anything—ice, glassware, bottle opener, garnishes—but reserve some surface area for mixing drinks. Nobody wants to whip up a Manhattan in midair.

Parker Mid-Century bar cart, $349, westelm.com. Viv sparkling-wine glass, $5; Orb copper shaker, $22; Miller bowl in amber, $15; and Vineyard Pinot Noir wineglass, $20: crateandbarrel.com. Lobmeyr Patrician white-wine glass, $137, tableartonline.com.

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