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2 Always have a steady stream of music going before guests actually arrive. This is very, very important: music’s one of those things that people might not take note of when it’s actually there in the background, but are guaranteed to notice in its absence. It’s just plain awkward to be the first person to arrive at a party, and find every awkward pause in conversation augmented by the thunderous sound of silence. Use music that sets the mood – and if you’re totally musically-challenged, beg a friend to come over ahead of time and get them set-up to play deejay for you for the evening.

3 Keep the lighting low and sexy, but not so low that it threatens to put people to sleep. Fluorescent lighting is the work of the devil: no one looks good bathed in its blinding, blue-green hue, so if you’re unfortunate enough to have them installed in your home to begin with, give those fluorescent overheads a rest for the evening, and make sure you have plenty of nice, soft, low-wattage incandescents – or at least a dimmable halogen – scattered strategically about your pad.  And if you’re planning on letting the party spill outdoors onto your patio, porch, backyard, etc, it’s a good idea to replace those glaring outdoor floodlights with a softer red or yellow flood instead.

4 Keep your pantry stocked with emergency snacks -- just in case you run low on food, or burn that big batch of appetizers, or guests happen to stay late enough into the wee hours of the morning that a serious case of the munchies descends on the crowd. Assorted nuts, chips, ice cream, frozen appetizers – anything that’ll keep for a good long while works just dandy… that way, even if they don’t get any use for that one specific party, you’ll have them around for next time.

5 Put on your bartender/waiter hat (figuratively speaking, of course). Refill glasses when you see that they’re empty, or even better, just before they’re completely drained. Be as unobstrusive as possible; a little sneakiness can actually be very good for your party ... your guests will find themselves happily tipsy before they know it, thereby increasing the likelihood that they won’t be leaving anytime soon. (Naturally, as both a good and responsible host, you will also keep careful watch of how much your guests have been imbibing, and discourage anyone who’s had quite a bit from driving until they’ve sobered up.)

keep walking: more this way!

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