Fashion

10 Holiday Entertaining Tips from Clinton Kelly

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by: Candace Keener
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For a Christmas party with extra jingle, allow your guests room to mingle.
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You want your party guests to mingle, but you don't want them literally rubbing elbows. This isn't your fifth-grade birthday party, so you don't have to invite the whole class.

In "Freakin' Fabulous," Clinton proposes a formula to determine the perfect number of guests for a cocktail party. Divide the square footage of your home by five (the approximate number of feet each guest needs in personal space). That number equals how many people can fit comfortably in your home. Then, assume that 80 percent of your invitees will accept the invitation, but that five of those people won't end up coming. For example, if you've got 100 square feet of space in your home, you can fit 20 guests. But really, you can invite 25 because just 16 will plan to come in the first place, and one will claim to be violently ill the day of the party.

Dinner party planning requires less math and more spatial reasoning skills. "Unless you have a gigantic room," Clinton warns, "avoid the urge to go gigantic. I've been to many parties where the homeowner's dining room was so packed with the table, the chairs, the armoire, the credenza that moving around the room was nearly impossible."

Don't be fooled: There's a difference between accommodating guests and hosting them. Accommodating someone involves sticking the leaf in your dining room table so that an extra person can sit down; hosting someone means providing a comfortable place at the dinner table so that he or she can get up and move freely around to the bar, powder room or patio. Your guests are there to have a good time -- not to calculate how many trees died to furnish your dining room. "I mean," Clinton wonders, "do you really need all that furniture? You can't keep your plates in the hall closet? You have to have a 7-foot hutch?"

Improvisation is the name of the game on the next page.

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