Jefffrey Evans knows a thing or two about planning a dinner party. As the owner of Jeffrey Evans Design, Evans consults with clients who are planning parties, both large and small.

The first thing to remember about entertaining, Evans says, is to be kind to yourself.

“Know your limits,” he says. “Don’t try to learn to bake the day of a party. Only cook what you’re comfortable making, and don’t stress yourself by trying to make something that’s too fancy.”

When planning a holiday party, it’s best to consider small, personalized details that will make your guests feel both comfortable and special.

“Do one little thing that’s going to delight your guests,” Evans says. He suggests personalized name cards or a small box of candy at each place setting.

Evans recommends setting the table for a holiday party two days prior to the event. It allows you time to be creative and to devote your time before the party to the preparation of food.

“Use texture, color and lighting on your tabletop,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to borrow things from around the house that are interesting.

“I like to use lots of texture and give a tabletop an outdoorsy feeling for Thanksgiving. To me, (spring holidays) would call for brighter, monochromatic colors schemes with pastels, and winter holidays are glitzier and colors a little bit richer,” he continues.

Color is the most affordable way to decorate a tabletop, Evans says. He suggests using a white wedding china place setting and using brightly colored napkins to add a pop and completely change the look of the table.

“Use your dimmer switch for overhead lighting, or consider candle-lighting for the party,” he says.

Centerpieces are not always necessary, but there should be something interesting to look at on the table, Evans advises. Candles are a good option for this, be it votive, pillar or tapered candles.

When it comes to serving the meal, Evans urges his clients to set up a buffet or consider plating prior to the dinner party.

“If you plate it yourself, you can put it in the oven on warm and you don’t have to worry about the complication of passing things around the table. And it always looks more fancy if you plate it yourself,” he says.

Evans says that, in the end, a holiday party doesn’t have to be stuffy and formal; on the contrary, he says, it should be a relaxed and fun event. He says his ideal dinner party would include eight interesting guests seated at a round table with interesting conversation, an abundance of food and drink, where everyone is relaxed and doesn’t feel rushed.

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