Holiday season is in full swing, so if you love to entertain at home, it's helpful to have your basic entertaining essentials already on hand. You never know who might want to pop by and it'll save you lots of time if you decide to entertain at the last minute. If you're a bride-to-be, now's the time to add theses things to your registry!
If there's anything I've learned in planning events over the years, I can say that it's crucial to have a plan, be prepared for the unexpected and that details matter.
Going with neutral colors will last you year after year. You can always add pops color for specific events by changing the color of the napkins, candles, flowers or tablecloth. If you're married you've probably already received some of these things through your gift registry.
Here are your basic essentials:
- Wine bucket
- Martini shaker shaker
- Wine glasses, champagne glasses, shot glasses
- Small cocktail napkins
- Serving trays and bowls
- Cutlery if needed)
- Small napkins
- Neutral table cloth (white, beige or grey)
- Good set of dishes (a set of 12 is best)
- Good silverware/cutlery
- Nice salt and pepper shakers
- Serving platters and bowls
- Salad bowl and utensils
- Place mats or chargers
- Linen napkins or pretty paper napkins
- Candle holders (for tall candles a must - votives and tea lights optional)
- Candles (white/cream)
- Cake stand
- Dessert plates - usually part of your dish set or you can have a different set of pretty plates
- Mugs for coffee and tea
- Sugar bowl and creamer
Create a menu
It's always a nice touch to have a menu on display. First, it's important to consult with your guests about any food allergies. You can write the menu on a chalkboard in your kitchen but if you don't have a chalkboard, you can print and frame it in a menu. Not only does it let guests know what's in store for the evening, it works as a checklist for you too! No need to forget that cheese platter or your grandma's homemade cookies!
MAKE YOUR GUESTS FEEL PAMPERED
Entertaining doesn't stop at the dining and living area. Making your guest bathroom cozy leaves your guests feel even more welcome. It's their mini getaway from the party that let's them regroup and freshen up throughout the evening. Besides making sure the bathroom is extra clean, I like to include the following:
- Nice soap
- Hand cream
- Pretty and soft hand towels (I have some that I use only for guests)
- A scented candle (I like to keep it lit all night)
- Extra toilet paper!
- Flowers are optional
Make a To-do list
Now that you have a plan it's important to set a schedule that you can follow. Try to do as much as you can in advance, even starting the week prior if possible. Create a list of things to do and when. You can also indicate who is responsible for which task if other people are helping. I find following this schedule very helpful when I'm receiving:
- Week before: all decor items are bought and/or set aside, order cake
- Two days before: clean bathroom
- Day before: clean and declutter kitchen, dining area and living room, pick up cake, buy flowers if you can't day of, wash and set your outfits aside (if you can iron them too even better)
- Morning of: mop all floors, wipe down bathroom, clean kitchen, buy flowers, shower
- Two hours before: start gettign ready
- 30 minutes before: do a run throught of all the rooms in the house, check on your appetizers and wine/drinks, take photos
My husband and I have a routine wehenver we entertain adn it works out very well becuase we each know what our tasks are, we can focus. If you're entertinin with your significan other make sure to have these tasks detteminrd before hand so nothing gets forgotten and you each know what your part is. In our home, my husband handles evyrhign to do with the meal (excpet desset): the menu, groceries and cooking. He also runs out to the grocery store if we'remissing anything and picks up the balloons if I've pre-irderd them. I handle the cleaning and decorating. Throughtout the day we help eachohter if neede
Set the mood - before guests arrive!
Ambiance is so important and helps set the tone for the evening. It's really easy to forget some things when you're busy cleaning, cooking and decorating! Here are some things you can do to set the mood - but make sure you do them before your guests arrive. You don't want to be scrambling around when they're there. Once these are set in place you can relax and will be able to welcome them properly:
- MUSIC: Have nice music playing in the background. I like to have ambiance music playing in the background from the satellite radio on our AppleTV
- DRINKS: Have your welcome drinks ready. Create a little area where your guests will gather once they arrive (for us that's around the island in our kitchen). That means your wine is already chilled in the ice bucket, glasses are washed, dry and on display, your fridge is stocked with drinks, etc. If you're using wine charms have those already on the glasses or in a little bowl next to the glasses.
- APPETIZERS - have appetizers on display where you want your guests to mingle - on the coffee table, side tables, on the island in the kitchen
- TABLE SETTING - the table should be all set up: tablecloth, menu, centerpieces, flowers, salt and pepper shakers, candles (lit!), plates, cutlery, napkins, names for place setting (optional)
- GIFT AREA - if your guests are bringing gifts have a corner or table set aside so they'll know where to leave them. If you have gifts too, place yours there first.
- LIGHTING - lamps are on and candles are lit. Also don't forget to leave the porch light on so your guests can see the doorbell!
- ENTRYWAY - clear the entrance of any clutter and make space for your guests to put their shoes or boots by laying out shoe mats or a rug. In the fall/winter season it's nice to have a little basket of unisex slippers. Make sure the console table is also clean and free of clutter. Decorating it with candles and/or flowers is a welcoming touch
- CLOSET - make sure to clean our your closet and make enough hangers available for your guests to leave their coats and handbags
before your guests arrive...
The final but very important detail - whatever you do make sure to set time aside to get ready! I've learned form experience - there will always be those 'early arrivers'. It's happened a couple of times where the doorbell rings and I'm still putting on my make up! Try to be ready at least 30 minutes prior so you can compose yourself and take a breather before guests arrive. If you leave yourself some buffer time a half hour it will giver you the chance to:
- do a quick run-through of your house to perfect details
- set the mood
- I like to use this time to take photos of the set up
- enjoy a sip or two of wine and get ready for a great evening!