introductions . .Some people dream of inventing a word that is added to Webster’s dictionary. My dream is to eliminate the following form of introductions: “Do you two know each other?” As you might guess, the other person invariably says yes just as I’m saying no. “Do you know me?” and “Do you remember my name?” should also be outlawed. Instead of embarrassing your guests, risk being redundant by introducing them to one another as though for the first time. Before ducking out, help to establish a conversational flow. Break the ice by incorporating common ground into your introduction, i.e., children, work, places they’ve lived, etc.
It’s a fact: Martians have stolen our short-term memories. Help save face for your intergalactic victims by continuously weaving guest’s names into the conversation.
the art of seating . .Who is seated next to whom can stimulate conversation and enrich the natural energy of the evening. A little policing is usually required. Keep the silent types out of the far corners and away from the ringer (to avoid their being trampled). Split up couples and good friends who may get too insular, and pair those who have the potential to complement — and hopefully to compliment — one another. If you have a seating plan in mind and don’t want your guests to deviate, put a place card at each setting. If place cards seem too formal, spell out the names or initials with alphabet cereal or letters clipped from a newspaper. If you want to avoid place cards altogether, do it subtlely (“Quincy, why don’t you sit here…”). For a change of pace, ignore the conventional boy/girl, boy/girl tradition.
the smoking issue . .Decide in advance where you would like smokers to smoke, i.e., anywhere, in just one room or only outside. Placing ashtrays in the designated areas is a subtle signal that most smokers are accustomed to looking for. If the only suitable option is outside, make your guests feel comfortable, not ostracized. The longer they are out in the cold (figuratively, if not literally) the more time they will have to do that smoker’s bonding thing — which invariably leads to dredging up stories about your checkered past.
jobs that make guests feel useful