If you're planning to host a dinner party and want to ensure that the evening is a complete success for everyone who attends, here are the eight most important things to do: Pick the Right Group Choose friends who get along well and have similar interests or other things in common. If you’re looking to spice things up with a wildcard invitee or two, make sure they'll fit in and won't make the rest of your guests uncomfortable. Go with What You Know Make dishes you’ve whipped up at least once or twice before the big event. If you’re used to cooking a specific casserole, practice making it in a larger, party-worthy size. The reason is sometimes volume can affect cooking time. Try Something New While you'll want to follow the tip above and utilize recipes you know well for most of the evening's food, this event is the perfect opportunity to sharpen your skills by trying one new recipe. If you need some inspiration, our Salsa Stories page has a lot of really yummy options. Check Your Inventory Ahead of Time Make sure you have all necessary accouterments, including serving dishes, wine glasses, extra plates and dessert forks, the weekend before the party. This will prevent you from ending up in a position where you’re rushing around the day of the party trying to buy or borrow them. Do the Hard Work First Try to get as much prep work as possible out of the way ahead of time. Go with recipes that include instructions on how to plan ahead and mention what can be prepared up to a day or two early. Two easy tricks are to chop veggies the day before the party and to make baked desserts a few days prior to the big event. Clean As You Go It might seem like a pain at the moment, but it’s usually a good idea to wash pots and pans as you finish using them. That way, you won’t have a scary pile of dirty dishes at the end of the night. Delegate Ask reliable friends to contribute to the meal by bringing desserts, drinks or side dishes. If party-goers ask how they can help, good options to delegate include slicing citrus fruit for cocktails, filling water glasses or doing some other easy but helpful task. Dim the Lights Low light will put everyone at ease and create an intimate atmosphere that's perfect for lots of great conversation. Turn down harsh overhead lights and light some candles. Christmas lights are always a good option too if you want something a little more festive.