One of the things many people fail to consider when they’re planning a holiday gathering, dinner party, or even a child’s birthday or graduation party, is how to set up their facility to create a flow of movement for guests. If you’re having a party in a public area like a hospitality room at a hotel or a reception hall, the experts there can help you arrange or rearrange the room based on the number of guests you will expect, the activities that will occur in the area, and their past experience. But most of us entertain in our homes. So this article will focus on creating a flow when you’re entertaining in your home.

If you’re planning to entertain in your home, you should first consider seating and seating arrangements. As a rule, you should have at least one seat available for every guest. You don’t want to leave one person standing.

Alternately, if you are hosting a very informal gathering, such as a game-playing night, and if you are inviting family and friends who are accustomed to sprawling out on the rug in the family room, pillows and floor space may be considered when calculating seating for each guest. But even in this case, you need to make sure you have adequate space. This could involve removing certain furnishings or accent items in your home to free up space in the area where everyone will gather.

If necessary, temporarily relocate items into a closet or a spare room to give everyone a little more elbow room or make room for additional seating to be brought in. Plants, televisions (unless you’re having a movie night), floor lamps, computers, and excessive knickknacks can all be moved out of the space. Be sure the items that remain in the room and take up space can also be functional for your gathering-serving as a place to set drinks or a place to sit down.

Rearrange the remaining furniture as necessary so that people can come into and exit the gathering area without tripping over other people. Likewise, you don’t want to set up the space so that one person must continually get up to let other people through if they need to go get a drink or use the restroom, etc. Group chairs and furnishings to create multiple conversation areas if you have a large group to entertain rather than creating one huge circle of seating.

Consider dining options, too. If you have a large formal dining area with a table and chairs suitable for all of your guests, take advantage of that space. However, if you do not have a large enough table to seat everyone, you may want to remove all the chairs-you can use them for seating groups in other areas of your home-and just use the table. You can set up food and serving dishes buffet style on the table, allowing guests to flow in a single file line around the table to come and get their food and then return to their conversation area to eat and mingle.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to make an appropriate place and space for any other activities you’re planning to include when you entertain, as well. For instance, if dancing is on the agenda, you’ll need to clear a space for this purpose. If you’ll be playing the Wii, you’re going to need room for the players to move around when it is their turn. If it’s a pool party, remember to provide adequate poolside seating, etc. And that brings up another important point-if weather permits and you have outdoor entertaining space, consider taking the party outdoors. Just be sure you have a back-up plan in case it rains.

Plan ahead, create a flow that will enable all of your guests to mingle and move around from one area to another in comfort, and plan to have fun!