The Right Way to Throw a Cocktail Party, Potluck or Buffet
The food—fresh gazpacho, salmon with corn salsa, pound cake—can all be made ahead and served at room temperature, so you don't have to greet your friends with a wooden spoon in hand, onion bits in your hair, and something burning in the background.
The meal is colorful, too, allowing you to keep table decorations to a minimum; a handful of flowers and a pretty tablecloth are more than enough.
A midday party feels particularly indulgent because it allows your guests to pause and savor good food and pleasant conversation at the exact time of day when they are usually at their busiest. This kind of party is an especially generous gift for you, the newly confident host, to offer your by now growing list of well-fed admirers.