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Easy Home Entertaining

Whether you’re hosting a girls’ night in or a casual get-together (game night, perhaps?), try these crowd-pleasing appetizers, fun party ideas, and easy cocktails.

Creative Party Ideas

The Best and Worst Appetizer Choices
Registered dietitian Jean Harvey-Berino ranks the healthiness of 10 popular appetizers.

Stock Your Cocktail Bar
Entertaining expert A.J. Rathbun picks the liquors and mixers to splurge (or save) on.

10 Fun Party Cocktails
Bottoms up! Quench guests’ thirsts and please their palates with these lively drinks.

Credenza with sweets and coffee tray

15 Simple Dinner Party Ideas

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

Party Food and Beverage Calculator

How much do you need to serve?
Photo: Miki Duisterhof

Entertaining New Uses

Fun new ideas for paper plates, cakestands, name tags, and more.
Photo: Yunhee Kim

16 Tips for an Effortless Outdoor Party

Here’s how to create a backyard oasis where the revelers are satiated and no one gets eaten alive.
Photo: Joyce Lee
Credenza with sweets and coffee tray
Party spread
Bucket used as a side table
Beverages, fans, sunglasses, picnic blanket, and hose

Appetizers, Cocktails, and More

Modern bridal shower tea party table

Bridal Shower Theme: Creative Tea Party Ideas
Celebrate the bride-to-be with a shower that revolves around high tea.

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White wine bottle

24 Ways to Prepare for a Dinner Party

Follow this step-by-step guide to plan a party that’s as much fun to host as it is to attend.

  • Choose a theme, if you want one. Decide whether it will be an elegant soiree or a cozy supper, then think about a theme in terms of season, occasion, and guest list. Make, buy, or borrow any related decorations you might need.
  • Extend invitations. Mail, phone, and e-mail invites are all acceptable; the more formal the dinner, the more appropriate a written invitation, perhaps tied into the theme. Include such details as the date and time (typically 7 p.m., which allows an hour for cocktails, appetizers, and mingling), the deadline to RSVP (a week before party day), your address, and suggested attire if formal.
  • Plan the menu. Keep it fairly simple, including make-ahead dishes if possible (so you don’t spend too much time running in and out of the kitchen), and take the weather into consideration.

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