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Here Are Some Easy Rules to Throw a Perfect Party

December 09, 1988|PAMELA MARIN

A few rules of thumb from hosting pros Claire and Mac Burt, Wanda and Ty Cobb, Tricia and Gary Babick:

* If you're sending invitations, give your guests at least 3 weeks' notice.

* Serve appetizers with cocktails--some of your guests may have skipped lunch and will need edibles to go with their potables.

* Keep the cocktail hour brief. A "common mistake," reports one host, is an overly long cocktail hour, which results in guests too tipsy to fully appreciate the food and too bleary to make interesting conversation.

* If you have one outstanding feature in your meal--be it an appetizer, soup, salad, entree or dessert--you can get away with other courses that are mediocre. Your guests will remember the special dish and forget the rest.

* Keep the food portions small (but prepare enough to serve seconds). You don't want guests to leave feeling overstuffed (or hungry).

* Know your audience. Why serve a four-course culinary masterpiece to guests who would be just as happy with warmed-over spaghetti? Save your food festivals for your aficionado friends.

* No pay-backs. Just because you invite people over doesn't mean they will or should invite you over in return. And vice versa. If it happens, it happens. Entertaining should be duty-free.

* Relax. Even if you burn dinner, it's just a party.

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