If you love to entertain, you likely have a gathering or party planned in the coming weeks or months. But have you thought through all the details, to make sure everything from a small dinner party to a larger holiday fete is perfectly planned?
If you’re the consummate host, you strive to make every get together in your home a great one. From major changes you might want to consider, to smaller more strategic party details, we’ve got you covered.
Make your next party shine by following our four favorite things for hosting a party or gathering in your home.
1. A clearly defined bar area
When entertaining, create a clearly defined bar or drink area for guests to make themselves a cocktail, grab a beer or glass of wine, or pour themselves water or another beverage.
The benefit of having a bar or drink station means guests won’t have to rely on you to keep their thirst whetted, saving you from running to the refrigerator constantly to refill drink glasses. Set the bar up away from your food prep area, so nobody gets underfoot as you whip up appetizers or tend the turkey.
If you’ve created a specialty drink or cocktail for your event, print out recipe cards to display that show the drink ingredients and amounts. Then, guests can make the drink when they arrive, and take a card home to try the concoction again another time.
Investing in a wine refrigerator is a good idea if your crowd is of the oenophile kind. That way, wine is chilled to the perfect temperature and ready to pour, whether you’re hosting a spontaneous, casual gathering or a larger party.
2. Inviting outdoor space
Whatever kind of outdoor space you have—be it a patio, porch, deck, or outdoor room—transform it into the prime entertainment space.
Start by arranging furniture as you would in a living room, to encourage guests to gather for conversation. Use comfy pillows and cushions to make the seating areas more inviting, and stylish.
Don’t let cooler weather send you indoors. If it’s a little chilly out, drape some warm blankets over the back of the seats. You can also add outdoor heaters, fireplaces or a fire bowl for winter, and use an overhanging roof, awnings, or patio umbrellas to protect your guests from the elements.
Also consider outdoor lighting, from decorative lanterns to strung lights, which provide lighting and define the entertainment space. If you or a family member are into grilling, an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, sink, and prep area could elevate your outdoor space even further.
3. An open-concept kitchen
Have you ever noticed that everyone seems to congregate in the kitchen during a get together? Whatever the reason, an open-concept kitchen is optimal for entertainment, with plenty of space for food prep, and for guests to chat and mingle.
An open-concept kitchen also provides the illusion of having more space, and a sense of airiness. There’s nothing worse than attending a party in small, choppy rooms with a claustrophobic feel. Open-concept kitchens also make guests feel included, as you can enlist them to pass a plate of hors d’oeuvres fresh out of the oven, or to lend a quick hand as needed.
The open sight lines of such a kitchen are also a nice way for everyone to feel involved and connected, even if one group is chatting near the kitchen island and another is in the sitting area. You also won’t feel cut off from the party if you need to spend time at the stove.
If you’re planning a party with children, open-concept kitchens are ideal. Adults can gather in one area while the kids play nearby, out of the way but still within view of mom or dad.
If you entertain frequently and don’t have an open-concept kitchen, consider what knocking down a few walls (with the help of a trained professional) could do for you and your party plans.
4. Plenty of seating
You don’t want your guests to show up at your party only to find there isn’t a vacant seat in the house. Don’t make guests stand, unless they want to. Spacious living rooms with leather chairs, comfy sofas, and cozy loveseats offer places for guests to gather, and a few well-placed extra chairs can round out the seating options.
When having a larger party, consider rearranging your furniture so you’ll be able to fit folding chairs, or other extra seating options. Ottomans, floor cushions, and benches make great places for guests to perch. Stacked stools are perfect for smaller spaces as they can be tucked away when you’re not entertaining.
If you don’t have enough seating and are planning a larger extravaganza, consider renting chairs (and tables if needed). Or, round out your seating options by hitting a thrift or vintage store to pick out a few eclectic chairs.
Whatever your entertainment style, thinking through the party details will make your guests feel welcome, and leave them looking forward to your next gathering.