Entertaining at home can be both exhilarating and challenging because hosts put too much pressure on themselves to execute the perfect event. Here are seven tips for a dazzling dinner party, that will allow you to relax and enjoy, alongside your guests.

1. Plan and prep

Themes make everything more fun, and butterflies were everywhere for this one, but not in a tacky way. Make no mistake, sometimes tacky overkill on a theme can be fun(ny) too. Create a menu with options for the many diets trending now. Make lists of what you need, and do any tasks you can well in advance, including shopping and cleaning. Refill salt and pepper shakers. If it’s an indoor party, set the table. If service is buffet-style, set out platters and dishes for each item.

2. A pretty invitation

A printed paper invitation feels special and important, but paperless posts and e-vites can be designed cute too. Sending a graphic of the printed invite digitally is a nice follow-up to the paper invitation.

3. Place cards to encourage rapport

Mix up your crowd. Seat people so they must visit with someone they don’t know as well as others at the party. Spend a little time thinking through what they might have in common to spark conversations, and consider telling them to help get it going. Always place the guests of honor to the right of the host, then to the left and across, and build out around them. Disperse big talkers around the table to carry the conversation.

4. Setting the table

Use the good stuff! Use your silver, crystal and linens. Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns with any and all of it. It’s so much fun to get creative with the layout and use different glassware and dishes. Always use cloth napkins. They’re a perfect accessory to every place setting.

5. Create ambiance

Flowers, music and candlelight set the mood. Everyone looks pretty in candlelight, and the more candles, the merrier. Use low tea lights, or all of the candlesticks you can round up, like shown here. Pull out interesting containers and fill them with flowers. Consider a mix of wild color like at this party, go with a monochromatic look in each container or cut palms from your yard. Make a playlist, and then to thank guests for attending, share it with attendees a few days later.

6. Food & drink

Always have hors d’oeuvres, and greet your guests with a libation or mocktail to get the party going immediately. Serving the meal family-style creates camaraderie at a large party, but make sure you have platters for each end of the table, so things flow well. Consider items that work at room temp, so you don’t get anxious about keeping hot food warm. Serve a mix of catered and homemade food so you’re not tied to the kitchen. And finally, dessert should be an experience, so go all in for the grand finale!

7. A relaxed hostess

Remember, no one knows what didn’t get done. The point is to gather with friends and family and have fun. Go with the flow!