Greeting your guests as they arrive is a very important and an enjoyable part of your dinner party. Greet everyone yourself, if possible, as they arrive at your door.
A warm hand shake or polite peck on the cheek to go along with your greeting is most acceptable. Not everyone is comfortable with, or appreciates, a hug. So it's a good idea to refrain from this unless they make the first move towards you.
You may find people bring along a bottle of wine, flowers or chocolates as a thank you. If so, show your appreciation and thank them for their generosity.
Don't go over the top or make too much of a fuss in front of everyone, especially if they didn't bring anything with them, so as not to embarrass them!
Offer to take coats, hats etc and quickly put them away into another room or cloakroom.
As you invite them into your home introduce them to everyone else by name and briefly who they are and who's with who etc.
Make the introductions short and sweet, the whole thing should take about 30 seconds or so. Obviously, you wouldn't do this if everyone already knows each other!
After the introductions are over, you can either seat people at the dinner table if you wish or in your lounge area.
You may prefer that your guests are free to mill around instead, if so great, but it's a good idea to try and keep them out of the kitchen, if possible! It's also good to casually drop into the conversation early on as to the whereabouts of your bathroom facilities. This just saves them the embarrassment of having to ask!
After this, offer people a drink from what you have to choose from. Do not under any circumstances try and persuade anyone to drink alchohol if they ask for a soft drink. So, be sure to have a selection of soft drinks in your fridge.
It's also a nice touch to put out a few bowls of nibbles for your guests to pick at before the meal is served. This doesn't have to be anything too fussy, crisps and nuts are fine, or if you wish to make more of an impression, some canapes would be lovely, especially if it's a formal dinner party.
It's usual to ask people to arrive about half an hour or so before you are due to eat.
Once everyone has arrived and settled in, and has a drink in hand, you will have to excuse yourself at some point to go into the kitchen. Some people may offer to help out. It's up to you if you let them. But it can be very distracting indeed and slow you up a lot. So be warned!
After the meal is over, you will have to swiftly clear the table or simply move everyone into the lounge. You may find that some people offer to help clear up.
Again, it's up to you to decide if you will allow them to help or not! I personally don't allow anyone to help and insist that they don't even if they try to.
I simply insist that I will do it later or even the next day. I just don't find it very good, with some people helping and others not, as it tends to ruin the flow of conversation, splits up the guests and can make the end of the dinner party go very flat and a bit chaotic. But it's up to you which way to go on this one!
At the end of the evening people will make their move to go home. They may want to ring for a taxi, so make sure you have a few taxi telephone numbers to hand.
Obviously, you would get their coats for them. I always like to escort people to their car or taxi to wave them off and thank them for their company. It's alright to leave your other guests briefly to do this before returning to them.
Some people, sometimes, but not very often, may not know when to go home regardless of how late it seems to get! Unfortunately, if this happens to you, you need to take control of the situation.
Don't just think to yourself 'I wish this person would go home'and then do nothing! You will need to be as tactful as possible, but give your rogue guest no option other than to leave.
You could, for instance, get to your feet and say enthusiastically, something like this: 'Well, it's getting a bit late now. It was wonderful to see you tonight, thank you so much for coming, it's been lovely! I'll just get your coats'.
Or as you look at your watch something like this: 'Is it that late already! It's way past my bed time. I'll just ring a taxi for you. Thank you so much for coming'. You get the idea!
Don't take no for an answer and don't let your rogue guest settle back down or they will be there forever!
This sort of thing usually happens because some people seem to lose all sense of time and space when they are having such a good time and are simply enjoying your company a little too much. In an odd sort of a way it's a bit of a complement that you are such a good host, so don't blame them too much!