1. Seize Command. Don't forget that in your household, you are not just a house cleaner, a shopper, a cook or an entertainer. You are the boss. Enlist your team of helpers (friends and family, that is) to get ready for your gathering.
  2. Make A Punch List. Place a list of tasks on the refrigerator a week before the party, and be sure to save it for the next time. If you live with others, get everyone in your house to help. The tasks include shopping, cleaning before and after the party, welcoming guests, putting someone in charge of the guest book and taking people's coats.
  3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate. Put your guests to work. They'll love it. And be creative. Have a couple of friends come over one or two hours before the party. It's a great way to introduce them to each other. (Throughout the year, I have friends "fight" to be pre-party helpers.) It's a chance to spend some fun, personal time together.
  4. Bake In Bulk. Choose a few of your favorite recipes and double, triple or triple again, depending on the size of your party. I find appetizers are always a good choice, because you want to make sure your guests have something to eat when they arrive.
  5. Work The Alphabet. If you're into the idea of a potluck, for the party invitations (I send mine through e-mail), organize your guests by their last name. Request those with last names from A to D bring salads; those from E to H, side dishes; I to N, drinks; O to Z, desserts or anything they want.
  6. Show Off. Have your talented friends bring their musical instruments. Set up a couple of board games around the house. It is a great way for your guests to get to know each other. For one party, I invited my Chinese and American friends over and came up with a "game" about the cultural differences between the United States and China. The winner received a set of chopsticks and a box of chocolates.
  7. Anticipate. Prepare your appetizers ahead of time. Sit back, enjoy and have a good time.