While preparing to host my most recent dinner party, it occurred to me that my preparations went beyond the standard cooking and cleaning. The devil is really in the details and I have realized that there are some additional steps necessary to ensure my parties run smoothly. In this post I have put together a list of my 5 pre-party to-do's around my house that aren't obvious, but make a huge difference with the overall flow of your party and ease of entertaining.
Clear your Coat Closet
Taking your guests coats and other outerwear accessories is the first step in welcoming them into your home. The season doesn't matter, during summer and spring guests could still have some layer of outerwear, so its important to have a place to put their excess garments. Before a party I will typically remove enough coats from my front coat closet to allow for the largest scenario of coat checks (ex. 5 guests = Space for 5 Coats). I will also stock the closet with heavier coat hangers (all matching). Good quality coat hangers will reduce the likelihood of damage occurring and it's a more aesthetically pleasing look.
Pull up your Bathroom Rug/Mat
My house only has one bathroom, so by default that is the bathroom my guests use. Since bathroom rugs are really meant for comfort when bathing, I pull up my mat to avoid having it soiled from foot traffic during my parties. No one will be bathing during your party (hopefully), so there is no reason to keep the bathroom rug/mat on floor.
Add Guest Towels
More often then not, I will stock my bathroom sink with 2 freshly laundered hand towels for my guests to use. On the occasion where I may be feeling like adding a pop of color or being a little festive, I will buy paper guest towels (like these).
The one problem that I have encountered with using pretty paper guest towels is that guests are often too intimidated to use them because they look too nice. Of course I want my guests to use the pretty paper guest towels (if I didn't want anyone to use them they wouldn't be out). In an effort to take the pressure off of my guests, I will go into the bathroom and use a guest towel before the party starts, so that there is a visible example present in my trashcan. If guests can see that someone already used a guest towel, they will be more inclined to follow suit.
Have the Ambiance Set
There are two aspects of party ambiance- candles and music. Ten minutes before guests arrive I will turn on the music and light all of the candles. For music, I have found one of the best options that requires little maintenance throughout the evening is Spotify. I will select a station on Spotify through my phone and then enjoy continuous play throughout the evening. For candle lighting, I like to keep a long multi-purpose lighter wand in both my living room and dining room for easy access. In the event that one of my guests arrives early, I am ready to go.
Empty the Trash and Dishwasher
Whether you're hosting a cocktail party or full on dinner party, I am always blown away by the pile of dishes and trash that accumulate by the end of the night. Starting out your party with a full dishwasher and/or trash will lead to pile-ups on your countertops and other various disruptions (i.e. having to take out the trash or run the dishwasher). If you make a point to have both the trash and dishwasher completely empty, you can clean as you go without creating disruptions or kitchen pile-ups during the party.
While cooking and cleaning are certainly the most important areas of focus when preparing for a party, incorporating these 5 tips into your party prep checklist will certainly make your party less stressful and more enjoyable.