Inviting guests, whether for a party or for a stay in your guest room, is an exciting experience. You can welcome them into your home, decorate as you wish and offer all your favorite foods, drinks and desserts. However, playing host can also be somewhat stressful. Obviously, you want all of your guests to feel comfortable and relaxed, and the accomplishment can sometimes seem daunting. That is, until now. Here, party planners, interior designers, and cleaning experts tell us about the last-minute things they always do before guests arrive. Follow their lead and your next gathering will go off without a hitch.
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The powder room or guest bathroom is a place that all of your guests will likely visit at least once. For this reason, you will want it in pristine condition. Along with scrubbing it up and down, you need to make sure it’s ready for heavy foot traffic. “Our advice is to have extra linen napkins ready to swap out throughout your event,” says Elizabeth Copelandfounder of Houston-based event organization company Swift + Company. “Stewardesses sometimes forget to freshen up this simple amenity and end up with a soaked towel at the end of the night.” A swap or two during the party could make all the difference. This tip also applies to leaving extra toilet paper somewhere guests can easily spot it.
If your guests are staying overnight, you can create a vanity station to accommodate them. “I stock this with things like bobby pins, hair ties, dry shampoo, face mist, essential oils, body spray and anything that makes someone feel to be within the amenities of a hotel”, says Hannah Michelle Lambert, interior designer and blogger at Homey Homies. These little touches are the things that visitors will remember the most.
There’s nothing worse than being at an event where the heat is sweltering. Help your guests avoid this by setting the air conditioning to around 67 degrees an hour or two before the party, suggests Copeland. “More bodies in a house make it warmer,” she explains. “Dropping the temperature will ensure your home stays at a pleasant temperature throughout your evening.” Yes, that can even mean turning on your air conditioner in the winter if needed.
You can do this in different ways. If you’re feeling crafty, Copeland recommends a simmering pot. Simply put your ingredients in a pot of water over low heat and your space will be filled with a pleasant aroma. During the warmer months, she likes to use lime, ginger, mint and cucumber. During the colder months, try apple cider with cinnamon sticks, almond extract, fresh cloves and orange peel, or pine boughs, juniper berries and lemon zest.
If simmer pots aren’t your thing, a candle works just as well. Copeland likes NEST New York Bamboo candle for the warmer months and Orange Blossom by Jo Malone for the cooler months. “We like to blow out the candle about 10 minutes before guests arrive to let the scent linger for an effortless scent,” she says.
If you’re hosting a big party, you’ve probably spent days sprucing up your space. But just before the guests arrive, focus on the big picture. “Walk through each room your guests will visit and stare for a few seconds,” says Steve EvansOwner of Maids of Memphis, a house cleaning service in Tennessee. “Try to focus only on what you see and what visually stands out as out of place, not on what you ‘know’ is dirty or disorganized but no one else will see or pay attention to.” Take those last few minutes to mend those spaces.
In addition to these trouble spots, Evans suggests focusing on large, flat surfaces, such as floors, counters, tables, and desktops. “For floors, vacuuming and/or steam mopping would be really helpful because the tool does the cleaning when you only have to go over the entire floor multiple times,” he says. “If you have a very tight schedule, whether your guests are arriving soon or not, that’s really helpful.” The room will look refreshed in no time.
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Every time you invite someone to your home, you’ll want to offer them something to eat. “A lot of times I have guests over for coffee or cocktails, so I’m a big fan of serving small finger foods like tea sandwiches or cakes, or small bite-sized foods that you can easily load up on a plate and go back for more,” says Jen Starkthe founder of Good DIY house. Fortunately, compiling these foods doesn’t have to be complicated. If you wish, you can prepare appetizers in the oven. Or, simply place a few store-bought cheeses, crackers, vegetables, and desserts on a tray.
The easiest way to make a strong impression is to use fancy water. “Lemon, basil and/or cucumber water is a perfect way to make guests feel welcome and not have to ask for water, which I find myself doing all the time when I visit people’s homes,” says Devin Shafferchief interior designer at Mon Petit Cabas Interior design online. “Investing in a stylish carafe will make all the difference and double as a decor item, visually piquant, seasonal and fresh.” Guests will be ready to settle in and relax at your gathering as soon as they take a sip.