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Intimate gatherings are often some of the best. No matter what occasion you’re celebrating, having a close-knit group of family and friends there gives those around the table the opportunity to truly be present and invested in the moment. And while planning an intimate get-together may not require as much work as a larger gathering would, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to organizing and planning ahead to pull together a memorable evening. Here are five of our top tips to keep in mind when planning an intimate get together.

Stay Organized & Communicate to Your Guests

No matter the size of the event you’re planning, the most important element to ensuring the evening goes off without a hitch is to create a master to-do list and stick to it. From what groceries you need to buy to small essentials (like paper napkins) to double check you have on hand, having a master to-do list will help keep you on track with what needs to get done.

Another item to add to the list: ensuring that your guests are in the know on what’s happening. While most intimate get-togethers range between 10 and 12 people, it’s important your guests are aware of exactly what’s going on and when, and if anything is expected of them.

Pay Attention to Detail

Good food, good wine and good people are must-haves for any good party, but the devil is in the details when it comes to elevating your entertaining. As the dinner table will be the focus, choose a theme for your party and create a beautiful table scape using flowers, candles and a decorative tablecloth or runner that reflects it. Then work in personal touches – like name tags or small messages – for an extra dose of stylish detail.

Plan a Winning Menu

One of the best things about intimate gatherings is the opportunity to try new dishes and plan a more creative menu than you would when serving a larger group of people. The menu can be as formal or casual as you’d like — just be sure to know what you want to serve ahead of time. Charcuterie boards are often great to include no matter what your dinner party style is, as they satisfy all senses with a mix of salty, sweet and savoury options.

Pick a Playlist

One thing all great dinner parties have in common is a great soundtrack. Having music playing softly in the background will help your guests feel more comfortable (there will never be an awkward silence, especially if there’s someone new joining the party) and it will set the tone for how the evening will go. Want to set the stage for a formal get together? Enjoy the dulcet tones of smooth jazz. Want to keep your guests pumped for board games after dinner? Push play on something funky and upbeat.

Focus on Your Guests & Have Fun

Once all the planning is said and done, remember that the reason for the gathering is to enjoy spending time with the people who are there and to celebrate the occasion that you’re marking. Be sure to focus on your guests and have a good time yourself — as long as everyone’s having fun, you can rest assured that your get-together was a success.

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