The ground rules:1- Write a menu. You will fined that this simple act of planning will make the rest of your day go easier. In fact, you probably should write a menu for your everyday meals as well. It will not only save you grocery money, but more importantly, you will avoid a panic attack in the kitchen.2- Always plan one one or more dishes that you can prepare ahead of time, even if it is diced cheese. The last thing you should want is to be cooking while your guest are socializing without you.3- Try to use menu items that do not take a lot of time to prepare. For example, buy frozen bread buns and bake it just before your party. Buy different kinds of olives, add fresh rosemary, chili, lemon slices and olive oil. Toss and serve.4- Try to be creative, use fennel instead of celery or with celery for dipping, use watercress instead of spinach in a salad and sprinkle salads with toasted spicy walnuts.5- In addition to meat dishes, be certain to have non-meat items for the increasing number of vegetarians.6- Use different colored foods. That, of course, is the first thing your guests see, which affects their appreciation of the food's taste. Remember the eyes eat before the mouth.7- Always remember, keep cold food cold, and the hot food hot, if you want Peace of mind.8- Always try to finish your preparation at least an hour before your guest arrive. This will give you time to shower and change clothes, as well as to look relaxed before they file into your home.9-Now, the best rule, is not to stress over how neat the house look. After all your friends are at your home to enjoy your company not scenery.