Throwing a successful dinner party is an art. Attending a successful dinner is also an art. Let these tips for beginner artists be food for thought.\r\nFor the Host\/Hostess\r\n1. DO Plan AheadCreate a menu of tried-and-true dishes, prepare as much ahead of time as possible, and give yourself more time for everything than you think you’ll need. You can’t be a great host\/hostess if you’re stressed out. Check in advance to see if you have all the necessary kitchen appliances and serving dishes for your meal. Ask a friend or two to arrive early—not only is it fun to connect one-on-one, but your friend can finish last-minute details, like setting out silverware, while you answer the door.\r\n2. DO Dress Up the TableEven if your dinner is informal, a nice atmosphere is important. Bring out the fancy candlesticks and light some candles. Use good wine glasses and real cloth napkins. Create a centerpiece, even if it’s as simple as a crystal vase with dried flowers. If it is a formal dinner, make sure you know how to arrange your silverware and aline the glasses. For additional help you can read our blog “How To Arrange Your Table To Impress Your Guests”\r\n\r\n3. DON’T Isolate the VegetarianIf a guest is vegetarian, paleo, diabetic, allergic, or otherwise eating differently than you do, you have to do more than simply provide adequate nutrition. A single edible side-dish won’t make your guest feel welcome. Likewise, don’t make a special meal if you can avoid it—if you make a mistake and your guest can’t eat the special meal you’ll both feel uncomfortable. If possible, serve a variety of foods and make sure everybody at the table can eat several of them. But remember, don’t stress too much. \r\n \r\nFor Guests: \r\n\r\n1. DON’T Use Your Cell Phone at the TableYou wouldn’t read a magazine at dinner, nor would you leave the table to lean out the window and talk to someone on the street—so why would you read or chat at the table on your cell? The rule is that when you’re with a group of people, you should stay involved in group activities. If you need to do something the others can’t share, like use your cell phone, say “excuse me,” keep it unobtrusive, and keep it brief.\r\n2. DO Follow the Lead of Your Host\/HostessLet your host or hostess decide how formal the evening should be. If he or she keeps elbows off the table and cuts food just one or two bites at a time, then you should do the same. Follow your host\/hostess’s lead for when to start and end the meal, too. Eat at about the same pace as everyone else. Don’t draw attention to yourself by standing out.\r\n\r\n3. DO Say Thank YouBefore the dinner, ask if you can bring anything. Wine is traditional, your host\/hostess may prefer something else, or nothing at all. Gifts are always a good idea. Who doesn’t like receiving gifts, right? But don’t expect your gift to be used at the party and don’t expect a thank-you note—your gift is part of your thank-you to them. Some hosts\/hostesses want a thank-you note as well, some don’t. Either way, say thank you in person at the end of the night.\r\nExtra tip for both parties: Keep up the good atmosphere, don’t take anything too seriously, and as in any other situation in life, laugh as often as possible! We believe that a genuine smile can fix any mistake!