Not at my dinner party! Serving an array of finger food while guests arrive? Even consider ordering in the main if that’s your thing: as long as it’s tasty and abundant, no one will care where it came from. All yours friends are thus, similarly awesome. Good breads, cheeses and olives always go down a treat as pre-dinner nibbles, as does a bakery-bought dessert if you’re not a natural baker. So there are some half-built shelves in the living room; string some fairy lights on them and call in a feature! Don’t ignore the table either: flowers, candles, place cards if you’re so inclined— all will create the sense of a considered, yet effortless, occasion. (Image credits: Leela Cyd for The Kitchn) We all set ourselves high expectations occasionally: to be the best we can be, to put our best foot forward, to try our best, etc. If you’re stuck in the kitchen for a bit, take up an offer to join you and help. If you can swing a 100% homemade meal, by all means go for it, but otherwise, cut yourself some slack. This, quite frankly, is exhausting and ridiculous. Think about it like this: you’re an awesome person with awesome taste in friends. Same goes for cleanliness. As someone who loves to cook and entertain, I’ve fallen into this trap more than once. While I’m not suggesting Martha levels of prep are always necessary, I do think that presentation is the best way to make your guests think they’re getting a Michelin-star meal (even if you did buy half of it at the deli around the corner). But when it comes to a party, that kind of “best”-focused thinking can be counter-productive. While I’d never advise having guests over without at least a quick clean, focus on the things that matter: a sparkling bathroom, relatively dust-free surfaces, a clutter-free living room. Toss a simple salad on a beautiful platter, arrange the cheeseboard with care. If you’re enjoying yourself, so will your guests. The group dynamic. Heck, send guests home with leftovers for their lunch the next day! We all want to put our best foot forward, but holding your home to shelter mag standards is hardly necessary. Answer the door with a drink in your hand and a smile on your face. Better make three kinds of flatbreads and homemade hummus, then. Whether all the food is homemade. I keep cheap plastic take-out containers around for this purpose, and it’s a huge compliment when someone eagerly takes me up on the offer. When mixing friend groups, it’s easy to worry about whether everybody will hit it off. Equal numbers of guys and girls, whether every guest has a “buddy” other than you: my advice is not to worry about these things, and choose your guests based on their fab and mesh-able personalities. They came to see you, after all.