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When hosting a dinner party, there are a few key obligations on you to act as a responsible host in order to ensure that your guests have a good time and travel home safely. Here are some ideas to assist you.
Remove objects that can be broken or damaged during the evening. It is better to keep things out of harm's way and avoid potential embarrassment and even injury to guests who might accidentally break something, as well as avoiding you the disappointment of a broken heirloom or expensive item!
Check for allergies and dietary preferences beforehand. If possible, ask people about dietary preferences and allergies prior to the event. If this is not possible, ask on their arrival.
Always have some basic back-ups tucked away somewhere for those who are with faith-based food restrictions, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-intolerant, dairy-free, egg-free, and for dieters. It sounds worse than it really is; for example, you can easily deal with all of these people with a single dish such as Quinoa salad, roasted or steamed veggies, rice pasta main course and a basic basil and Sicilian-Tomato-Sauce. Fruit salad for dessert is always an easy option!
Do not overstock your bar. Aim for about 2 drinks per person per hour. Offer self-serve wine and beer and only leave enough glasses for the amount of guests; more can be washed if asked. Leave plenty of non-alcoholic choices around as well, such as water, juice, mocktails mocktails and sodas. And leave nibbles to distract drinkers from constant drinking. If you wish to have cocktails, serve one with pomp and ceremony at the beginning. You can also consider a single serve of liqueur at the end of the evening. Politely decline to serve more alcoholic refreshments to anyone who seems to be drunk; avoid refilling their glass and remove bottles etc. from the service area at the end of the main meal. Call a taxi for anyone who looks unfit to drive and reassure them that there car will be safe parked at your home until the following day; offer to collect them even if this is not too difficult for you.
Serve coffee and tea at the end of the evening. This is a sign that any more drinking is at an end and it is a means by which to give your guests a chance to revive themselves and prepare to leave.
Make sure that there is a safe place for guests to leave their valuables. If you have any concerns, have guests leave handbags etc. in an open area obvious to all.
Be the ice melter. A responsible host fuels the conversation all night and steers like guests to like guests so that they feel comfortable with one another and find someone to converse with. Do notice the wallflower and try and draw them into the discussions. Ask questions and listen actively. Be ready to help others when you can. Finally, smile as much as you can!
It is always a really good idea to let guests know quietly where the bathroom is. Some guests are embarrassed to ask and spend the evening holding on needlessly. Relieve them of their concern about asking by jumping in and making it clear as a responsible host.
Always light the way to and from your front door well so that guests do not trip over anything. Remove toys, loose pavers etc. so that there is nothing to trip over. Consider getting extra lighting options rigged up temporarily if needed.
As a last resort, with a very drunk guest who will not listen to reason, you may be forced to remove their car keys and drive them home yourself. Have someone else follow you to take you back home; leave their house and car keys somewhere obvious for them to find the next morning when they wake up.