How to Entertain Guests

Having guests over is one of the great joys of being a host or hostess. Not only does it allow you to introduce people from different aspects of your life—family, friends and coworkers included—it also gives you a reason to bring out your best dinnerware, serveware and barware. No matter your style, the guide below helps plan out the gathering, from setting the table and stocking the bar to choosing the appetizers and everything in between.

How to Stock the Home Bar

Begin by filling the shelves behind the counter with an array of drinkware. Think beer and double old-fashioned glasses for those who like to keep it simple, and cocktail glasses for others who enjoy a fruity kick. Either way, a set of small snack bowls with fresh citrus, herbs and skewered vegetables for garnish options help elevate everyone's libation of choice. Don't forget to add wine glasses into the mix, too. Ideal for tasting parties and special occasions, a combination of red and white varieties satisfies more refined palates. Are there people in attendance who want to try a bit of everything? Keep a flight of tasting glasses nearby as well. For friends who would rather watch others imbibe, provide pitchers full of ice water, lemonade and other refreshing non-alcoholic choices. Then, configure coordinating Collins glasses and highball glasses for self-dispensing.

How to Set the Table:

Regardless of the type of event you're hosting, it's important that the table be set to complement the occasion. Hosting a casual get-together? Use a cotton or linen tablecloth. Think one in neutral hues such as beige, white and grey for versatility, or take a different approach during your favorite holiday with one that features an on-theme motif. In any case, laying down a coordinating table runner introduces a decorative touch. For those who want to put the dining table's finish on display, consider foregoing the tablecloth completely—sticking with just a runner and set of placemats. Once the basics of your tablescape are finished, it's time to consider the decor. Candles help set an intimate ambience while hurricanes filled with pebbles, faux greenery and other eye-catching elements that set a livelier tone. If each attendee is getting their own place setting, be sure to include cloth napkins that complement what's already on the table. Then, incorporate the dinnerware of your choice. To achieve a cohesive look, consider using plates and bowls from the same collection. Or, take a different approach by mixing and matching colors, textures and finishes. Round out the look with flatware and place cards, too.

How to Prepare and Arrange Appetizers

Before the main entree is served, set out a spread of tasty finger foods. Not only does this satisfy guests' appetites, it also encourages mingling—helping everyone feel welcome inside your home. On the kitchen island, arrange a series of appetizer plates and other smaller serveware for party favorites, including cucumber bites, meatballs and deviled eggs. Or, take a different approach on the nearby sideboard with tiered servers instead. Either way, oven-to-table cookware helps with bigger batches of food such as baked dips, different types of bread and other starters. If you need to transport homemade treats between rooms, make use of trays and platters with handles.