Here is my advice.... Make a service list and choose a menu that 80% of it can be prepped in advance. That way you can refer to the list as you go through the night and most of the hard slog is done in your own time. I find without the list I'm in the dark, and more than often forgot something.
Also make something everyone can nibble on, otherwise everyone is two sheets to the wind before you even sit down. I razed up a quick anchovy dip in the food processor and blanched some green beans to dip with my trusty helper Oliver yesterday. Also small bowl of salted pistachios.
Tonight I'm serving - Shrimp Bisque which I made this morning. Duck Confit legs - I bought ready prepped yesterday. Will just need to heat them up in a super hot oven with some duck fat 15 mins before hand.
Duck fat roast potatoes. I peeled all the spuds this morning and have them cut and ready to par boil 1 hour before everyone arrives. Into a hot oven with duck fat for 40 mins or so. Make sure to toss them constantly otherwise they will stick and not get that nice crispy texture.
Citrus salad. I made the dressing this morning and prepped all the bitter greens in a zip lock bag. To serve will manderline some fennel real quick in a bowl along with segmented oranges. Toss with the greens and dressing.
Super easy cheese course. I made some fig preserve a month back and bought some honey today. Two cheeses out room temp, one with wafer thin pear slices, couple of roasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey. The other with a smear of fig preserve on the side of plate. Easy peasy!
Dessert I made an orange and lemon tart. Oliver and I baked that this after noon!
So all I have left to do is set the table, light some candles,open up the red wine to go with the duck, take the cheese out room temp for serving, make a quick playlist of music, pour myself a nice glass of bubbles and Bob's your uncle. Well after I pop the kids to bed and make myself look presentable.
Will check the list after each clearing of the table so I don't forget anything. Stress free and lots of time to hang with my pals rather than stuck in the kitchen all night shvitzing.