12 Top Entertaining Questions, Answered

With some easy planning, you can host a party and keep your cool.

  • Kate Chynoweth

Hostess anxiety may not have an entry in the Physicians' Desk Reference, but the symptoms are obvious: fear that no one will show up, worry that those who do will stand around and blink at one another in silence, utter certainty that your guests will go home hungry.

When you're the hostess, your perfectionism spikes like a fever, but meeting your own high expectations (and the lesser ones of your guests) is not impossible. And you can probably get away with a lot less work than you think―a little artfully arranged takeout here, a simple flower arrangement there, a bottle of red, a bottle of white, and you've got yourself a cocktail party. Here, caterers, event planners, and etiquette experts answer your top questions.