1) Generosity, generosity, generosity. Generosity and only generosity should be in your heart and mind. Clear out the rest of the mess and let generosity inspire you.
2) Graciously decline offers from friends to bring something. This is not about sharing in costs for the evening. This is about providing for people you love. Some friends may still bring something but you should never count on it.
3) Give guests a drink as soon as they enter your home. It's all about making people feel welcome and comfortable so it's important to ask right away and be ready to provide.
4) Go above and beyond by buying too much food and drink. The goal is to end up with leftovers at the end of the evening, not to buy "just enough".
5) Gratify your guests beyond their expectations by seeing things from their perspective. Don't drink tea but your friends might? Have tea on hand. Even if you are an aggressive carnivore, keep your vegetarian friends in mind when making or ordering food.
* Thanks to the all the generous and atrocious hosting I've experienced over the years for inspiring this post! I may not always live up to these rules but I certainly aspire to them! Happy hosting!