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Having company for dinner is extremely nice. Unhappily, it means extra work.

Wether you are preparing a buffet style party or a sit down dinner, you take lots of guessing out of job and save planning time.

Tips for easy entertaining

When making a meal for a large group, plan well in advance. Find out about any allergies or special dietary requirements.

When entertaining a large group, get as much of your food preparation done as possible the few days before.

On the day of your dinner party, make a time line so that you know when to do the final preparation on each item. This will make sure everything is done on time.

When making your dinner party grocery list, as a rule of thumb, calculate about 1/2 pound of meat per guest.

For large buffet style parties, where a selection of dishes is served, there is no need to prepare enough of each item to feed everyone. Only a few guests will try every dish, while most will eat from only a few.

Reduce stress on your next dinner party; cook something you’re very familiar with.

If it’s your first dinner party, keep it simple. Keep the meal simple and aim for about 6-8-guest maximum.

Have a small appetizer plate out for your dinner guests when they arrive. That way, you have some time to prepare the first course of your official meal.

Who says you have to do all the food preparation for a party? Ask your guests to contribute a favorite dish or dessert.

For your dinner party dessert, consider offering a healthy option, like fresh fruit, in addition to something a little more sinful.

If you’re organizing a potluck, keep track of what everyone is bringing so you don’t have duplicates. Don’t be shy about asking for certain items if they’re needed to round out the menu.

Individual potluck dishes need not be in serving sizes for each guest. After all, if there are a lot of choices, everyone can eat a small serving and not everyone will try each food item.

Bringing food to a potluck? Bring it in the dish you will serve it in so you don’t give your hostess extra work and stress. If you are bringing a dish to a potluck that needs heating or further preparation, make sure to let your hostess now, so she can be prepared.