Stressed about hosting a party? Don't be! With these 7 easy tips, you'll be throwing parties on a regular basis. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Dinner parties don't have to be this formal to impress your guests (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"][/caption] Tip No. 1: Know your guests. Inquire about any dietary restrictions and potential "dislikes." In this day and age people may have gluten and/or dairy intolerances and severe food allergies, they may be vegetarians or vegans, or they may simply abstain from eating certain foods. Make something appropriate to suit everyone's needs and you'll avoid being a short-order cook. Tip No. 2: Choose a theme. Can't decide on what to serve? Choose a theme and stick to it throughout the menu. For example, for a French-themed lunch serve French wines, simple pate and cheeses with fresh baguette, vichyssoise, Nicoise pasta and pot de creme for dessert. Most of these dishes can be made in advance. Tip No. 3: Accept help. If your guests offer to help with prep or cleanup, let them. Many hands make light the work. Have someone pour wine, help plate dinner or stir a sauce over the stove top. Tip No. 4: Plan ahead. Count out plates, cutlery and napkins days before. Prep food in advance and reheat what you can. The more you do before your guests arrive, the more you'll be able to enjoy your own party. If you're making a chocolate soufflé for dessert, have your dishes buttered and sugared, chop your chocolate and measure out ingredients all prior to your guests' arrival. The best parties are the ones you enjoy with your guests. Tip No. 5: Don't go over budget. If you would like to splurge in some areas be sure to cut back in others. Lobster with flavoured butter for dinner is great served with stuffed baked potatoes and a rainbow slaw. Tip No. 6: Introduce new foods. Find a a new and exciting ingredient to incorporate into your food. It can be as simple as using a smoked sea salt, flavoured oil, or less common fruits and vegetables such as candy cane beets or baby patty pan squash. Tip No. 7: Have fun! Have your favourite music on in the backround, enjoy what you're cooking and get everyone involved.