Whether casual or formal (I couldn’t resist this picture from what seems to be a bygone age) planning,shopping, preparing and hosting a dinner party takes times and money, so pick your guests wisely. 1. Invite people who enjoy eating. Save the picky eaters and continual dieters for going to the movies, taking a hike or any other non-food-centered activity. 2. Invite people you like or want to get to know better. Although there can be occasions when you have to have “the boss” for dinner, those should be few and far between. 3. Invite people who don’t care whether your house is perfectly clean–unless you are a clean freak yourself. Housework is a low priority at my place, so when guests come I make sure the kitchen, dining area and guest bathroom are clean. Aside from that, I figure they should be focused on the people and the food. 4. Invite the number of people you’re comfortable cooking for. If that’s only one, it’s still a dinner party. From there, any number is fine as long as you can give them a place at the table and serve them easily. I consider six the best number for a dinner party because you can all be in the same conversation and the cooking is not overwhelming. 5. Invite guests you know will show up. When you’ve gone to the time and trouble to create a nice meal, the last thing you want is a guest who takes the invitation casually and either shows up late or calls at the last minute to say they can’t make it. Invite those folks to a cocktail party or cookout when exact numbers aren’t important. 6. Lastly, and this is the most important one for me, invite people who have a kindness of spirit. Nasty, bitter guests will taint the whole meal.