Padma Lakshmi Has the Perfect Trick for Sparking Conversation at a Party

Make guests feel comfortable with this tip from the TV star and author.

<p>Lucie Rice</p>

Lucie Rice

When it comes to throwing an epic party, Padma Lakshmi knows a thing or two. The television host, Emmy-nominated producer, author, and all-around culinary pro prides herself on making her home a welcoming place for friends and family. Having hosted everything from intimate dinners with friends to blowout events like her annual Diwali bash, she’s learned a few tricks for making any party go smoothly.

Lakshmi’s focus is on making sure everyone feels comfortable and that she’s able to spend time with her friends. That means most of the work is done in advance; Lakshmi chooses the perfect soundtrack and finishes most of the food prep the day before, so she doesn't spend the party running around. But even with all the details buttoned up, there are inevitably a few things left out of her control. That’s where her tip comes in handy.

Related: 8 of Our Favorite Recipes From Padma Lakshmi, From Keralan Crab Cakes to Vodka-Rose Punch

“I want to be relaxed because that ensures that I can relax with my guests,” Lakshmi says. “But I do leave some things undone on purpose.” With so much planning and preparation in advance, it might seem questionable to leave details undone — but she has a good reason.

“I'll often have two guests build the rest of the salad together, whether that's just chopping up some fresh herbs and tossing the dressing in there, or putting the last berries on a dessert or something,” Lakshmi shares. “I think it's a great icebreaker when you give people an activity to do together.”

What might seem a simple plan is actually pretty ingenious. Lakshmi is clear that she has all of the main details set and completed so the party can go off without a hitch. But having a few small tasks for guests to wrap up can fix a lag in the conversation and give people a common ground to connect over.

This trick is especially good for times when not all your guests know each other well. Creating opportunities to make people feel more comfortable with one another is a key talent of any host. No one wants to feel as though they’re being set up for a conversation; that can feel forced. But if guests are being asked to pitch in to help, then there’s a shared focus that removes a bit of the pressure.

Related: Padma Lakshmi Is Stepping Into Her Power and It Is 'Exhilarating'

Lakshmi says that often the dessert course is where this trick works best. It may come as a surprise to many, but the award-winning cook isn’t much of a dessert fan. “I don’t like making dessert,” Lakshmi admits. “I am not a baker, I’ll be honest.”

So whether it’s a small dinner party or a bigger event, Lakshmi will ask her guests to help her dish up some ice cream and toppings, turning a dinner or party into something resembling an ice cream social. That way, everyone can get in on the preparation and there’s plenty of different ingredient options for everyone to enjoy.

However Lakshmi goes about engaging her guests, her focus remains the same: “I just want to make my guests feel really good and happy to be there,” she says. And that’s the advice she shares with anyone hosting a gathering. Don't lose focus of the reason you’re having friends over in the first place — to enjoy each other’s company.

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