Everyone loves a party, and there’s always an excuse to gather friends and family including a special birthday or anniversary, a new home, a sporting event, or even simply to have the neighbors over to get to know each other better. Make the day or evening memorable and make your guests feel welcome with these easy to follow tips.
1. Circulate Your Guests
You may want people to circulate through your home or outdoor area and not have them holed up in one room. Set up beverage stations in a couple of places such as on the patio or deck, and then in a corner of the living room or dining room.
Do the same for food: If you’re not passing appetizers, set up a couple of small tables with light snacks so your guests will move around your space and mingle while they munch.
2. Set the Mood as You Set the Table
Design your table and create a centerpiece on your table. Fill a bowl with lemons or oranges, or small Mason jars with various candies and they’ll make wonderful party favors later! Gather pinecones from your yard and put them in a hurricane lamp. You can also place a line of bud vases down a long table with a single bud or green leaf in each.
3. Make a Place
Line up votive candles down a stretch of table, or place one with the name of each guest at their seat, or tiny frames with your guests handwritten inside. It serves as a place card and icebreaker at the same time and they can take them home at the end of the evening.
4. Polish the Powder Room
Light a votive or scented candle and have a vase with flowers to make the most private room in your home seem inviting. Make sure you’ve got guest towels and extra toilet paper in easy reach so guests can find what they need.
5. Filling Station
Set up a food station in the kitchen with plates and napkins so guests can help themselves, buffet style.
6. Dining Trays
If you’re not seating your guests formally at a table, have them use a tray to carry their meal to their seat and use as a place setting. This will be much easier for them to manage their food and drink on a tray while balancing on their lap.
7. Extra Seating
If you’ve got a kitchen island, add stools for extra seating. In the living room or great room, inexpensive “poufs” or floor cushions are comfortable and casual options for extra seating.
Add seat cushions to a set of folding chairs made from fabric that is outdoor-friendly for versatile seating indoors or out. The chairs can be folded and stored along the side of a patio or basement when not in use. A storage bench can double as a coffee table or seating and the interior storage can be used to store cushions, pillows or the folding chairs.
8. Grill ‘Em
Grilling makes entertaining casual and festive, and has a social bonus: usually there’s a couple of people who might be a bit shy, but may be happy to work the grill. This makes shy guests feel like they’re being helpful and have an easy access into conversation.
9. Warm Up and Chill Out
In the kitchen a double oven is a blessing. Use one oven to cook, and the other to keep finished dishes warm, or truly use them for double duty by cooking different dishes at different temperatures simultaneously.
Wine coolers or refrigerated drawers help guests help themselves to a cold beverage.
10. Let the Good Times Roll
Put it on wheels: a small table on casters or a rolling cart with shelves can make entertaining easier. Put drinks on top, place settings in the middle and extra napkins or a small bucket with iced drinks on the bottom. This way you can roll the party to where the guests are.
11. Double Duty Clean Up
Double dishwasher can keep the party going. You can run a load of glasses while guests are eating so you’ve got a fresh supply of clean bar ware so that the party won’t stop. These can also be half-sized, or even a drawer model to save space.