• Make the entrance-way to your home welcoming! Turn on the porch lights on, so guests can tell they have arrived at the correct house, and make certain your guests can see how to walk up to your porch safely. Set up paper-bag luminaries with candles lining the street in front of your home and driveway and sidewalk to welcome your guests with a friendly glow.
• Get your guests into a partying mood before they enter your home by decorating your porch or front door with items that will give them a feel for your party’s theme. A festive wreath or garland, a banner or seasonal items (pumpkins and cornstalks in fall, greenery and berries in winter, etc.) will let your guests know they are coming into a celebration.
• Have a gregarious host to greet your guests as they enter your home. If you are still busy in the kitchen, be certain to ask another family member or guest to answer the door. The host should show guests where to go in the house and where to put their coats and purses. If you have a number of guests who don’t know each other, the host can ask those arriving to put on nametags.
• Offer a signature drink to your guests as they enter. Have a tray of drinks prepared ready to pass out to guests as they arrive.
• Have a family member or friend pass a tray of appetizers as guests arrive—let them know where the other refreshments are located.
• Light votive candles all around your party space to add warmth and ambience to your home.
You may want to lower your normal lighting to make your space fee more party-like. You may also want to use fragrant candles that add a special scent to your party space.
• Have an appropriate ice-breaker game to play as your guests arrive. An ice-breaker usually has each guest trying to find out a piece of information from the other guests, thus, encouraging guests to interact. It gets guests mingling from the beginning, talking to one another.
• Have tasks for some of your guests to do as they arrive; guests can pass appetizers and drinks, oversee nametag distribution, chop vegetables, light candles and more. This is especially helpful for single or shy guests.
• If it’s appropriate to the theme of your party, invite or hire performers to mingle with your guests—a pianist, a singer, a magician, someone who can do card tricks, or a pair of dancers. Your guests will get involved with watching and talking about the performances afterwards.
All of these ideas may be used at the same party or just a few. Think about the guests you have invited and what they enjoy. Once you get everyone in the spirit of the evening, your party is sure to be a success!
Go forth and enjoy!