Bevy Smith

Whether you are throwing a huge fete for a large group or a small chic dinner for two, let hosting connoisseur Bevy Smith help you create an affair to remember with her easy tips to becoming the essential party hosting expert. 

1. LET YOUR INVITATION DO THE TALKING “A printed invitation speaks volumes. I want people to understand that this is a seated dinner. First, I send each invitee a personalized save-the-date e-mail asking if he or she is available. You want to let people know their presence really matters.”

2. NEVER LET ’EM SEE YOU SWEAT “As host, it’s important to set the tone at the beginning of the evening. When my guests arrive, I’m al- ready in party mode, swaying to music with my drink in my hand. That says to the guest, ‘This party is going to be fun.’ If I’m frazzled and rushing around, the party will take on that energy. You cannot host the event, be the chef and the dishwasher. Take it easy on yourself.”

3. CREATE A SPECIALTY DRINK “One way to cut costs is to serve punch or a signature cocktail. At our event, we served two delicious, easy- to-make Belvedere [vodka] punches that were made in advance. No one had an empty glass the entire night!”

4. LOCATION, LOCATION,LOCATION “Choose restaurants where you have a relationship. They will appreciate your business and treat you well. But don’t forget your budget: If you can’t splurge on a private room, which can be pricey, request a corner table or ask to be seated in the back.”

5. KNOW—AND LIKE—THY GUESTS “I try to know something about my guests— who’s a vegan, who doesn’t drink alcohol, etc. But the biggest rule to remember is invite people you like! I know that sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people feel pressured to include unpleasant people they think they should invite, which can ruin your event.”

6. BE SEATING SAAVY “I rarely sit couples together; for those who can’t be separated, I’ll seat them across from each other instead of side by side. Also, every professional host has what I call ‘ringers’— people who can break the ice with anyone.If your guests are kinda stuffy, seat your beautiful and charming friend smack dab in the middle of a group. Someone like that is infectious, and the table will eventually take on his or her tone.”

7. OPT FOR FAMILY-STYLE DINING “Family- style service is al- ways best, whether you’re hosting a dinner at home or out, but when hosting in a restaurant, always get a prix fixe menu. Don’t forget to let people know ahead of time how much dinner is going to cost so there are no ugly surprises. If you’re handling the tab, do it discreetly before your guests arrive or after they leave.”

8. MUSIC 101 “Welcome guests to the cocktail hour with mid-tempo music, say Mary J. Blige. During dinner, go with familiar but mellow artists such as Stevie Wonder. By the time dessert is served, your guests are fully engaged and it’s a party. Now you can pick up the pace and start throwing in rap, such as Jay Z, Kanye or Biggie. Stick with safe rap everyone loves— nothing too raunchy and abrasive. Pair that with a great dessert, and your party will be going on another hour. But beware! If you don’t want people to stay, don’t play loud, up-tempo music. Remember: You’re sending signals with everything you do.”