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Being the perfect host takes more than just a full bar and a tray full of canapés.

It also requires well-designed spaces that are comfortably elegant and conducive to good conversation. Now that we are gathering with friends and family in our homes again, it’s time to think about the settings that will make any party a success.

“Let’s have a party. Let’s have it tonight.”

—Lilly Pulitzer

No matter what type of gathering you are hosting, the design details are important, from flowers to furniture to the paint on the walls. Interior designer and color consultant Martin Kesselman says, “Creating a mood, not only a spatial scheme in objects and decoration, but a color palette that supports the vision of the space, is so important. You can create moods, moments, romance, even drama with color.”

From an intimate dinner for two to a formal cocktail party, the queen of party planning, Martha Stewart, has three simple rules: 1. Pay attention to your guests. 2. Interact with them. 3. Feed them fine food and wine.

“Life is a party. Dress for it.”

—Audrey Hepburn

“Happiness is finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry.”

—Johnny Carson

The pleasure of your company

Whether you are having your neighbors over for a game of cards or celebrating a 50th anniversary with 100 of your closest friends, there are some guidelines that will make every party a success. Ken Fulk is a “designer and creator of experiences” and is renowned for his unforgettable parties and gorgeously layered interior spaces. We asked Ken for his top 10 rules for throwing the best party in town.

1 A great guest list makes a great party; seating people with different stories next to each other leads to great conversations.

2 Make one drink well and stick to it. And make sure there’s always enough to last the night.

3 Dim the lights. A remote dimmer is a host’s best friend.

4 Make a playlist ahead of time—and have your controller handy to adjust volume throughout the party.

5 You can never have enough candles —tapers, votives, pillars. There’s nothing more decidedly romantic than candlelight.

6 Delicious food is paramount. It doesn’t have to be fancy or home-cooked, just delicious.

7 Don’t sweat the small stuff—the best hosts are able to relax and enjoy their party.

8 Dress up! If you’re inviting people out for a special evening, the least you can do is dress the part.

9 The most glorious flower arrangements feel as though you’ve gathered the blooms from the garden, so I prefer to think big but not too fussy.

10 A clever parting gift or custom favor is the perfect way to send guests home with a smile—it can be as simple as a charming take-away box of cookies or a festive accessory from the photobooth.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

—Oscar Wilde