When hosting, be it for the holidays or a casual Friday night, it can be easy to forget something simple and end up floundering to pull things together at the last minute.
For experienced hosts, however, hosting is often a breeze – even when guests turn up with minimal warning, and it’s all thanks to the things they always have in their homes to make hosting a breeze.
These are the six items pro hosts would never live without to help get their kitchen ready for hosting and prepare their dining spaces – and why they make hosting simple no matter the occasion.
Things pro hosts have in their homes
These six essentials can make even the least practical of hosting plans far simpler – no matter if you are hosting a dinner party without a dining room, or hosting guests without a guest room, experts assure.
1. Extra plates and cutlery
Although having extra side plates and flatware sets won’t make cleaning up after a dinner party easier, it will ensure our guests have plenty of room to eat, begins Laura Fischer, VP of product development at over&back:
‘Always have extra forks and salad plates,’ she urges. ‘These can match your flatware and dinnerware set patterns (if you can purchase separately) or you can mix it up and have additional forks and plates in a different pattern, but you should always have extra.
‘You will need these for the actual meal, dessert, and appetizers, so always be prepared.’
This bone china plate is one of our favorites. It's strong and robust without feeling heavy or indelicate. While high-quality, it's also dishwasher-safe.
But your plates don't have to be the usual obvious white. this stoneware plate comes in six different hues, and it's totally microwave-safe. The only thing to bear in mind is that it's pretty heavy.
2. A selection of non-alcoholic drinks
Not everyone likes to drink alcohol, and can feel a little left out when all they have on offer is water, says Genevieve Dreizen, COO at Fresh Starts Registry, which is why she always likes to keep some fancier non-alcoholic drinks in her cabinets:
‘A flat and a sparkling option on hand is a good idea. I recommend sparkling water and maybe some lemons or limes and an iced tea or a light juice. Even if everyone is partaking in the alcohol, it's good to have an option to rehydrate with something that feels fun and festive.’
Crafted as a stemless wine glass, these versatile, stemless bowls have universal appeal. They're the perfect shape for everything from spritzes to sangria, and a French 75.
These heavyweight, Mexican-made margarita glasses look incredible. The cobalt blue is at its best when its offset against a bright drink, so alcohol-free, juicy cocktails are perfect for this glass.
3. A duplicate of essentials in guest rooms and bathrooms
Whether you have guest bedrooms or not, it can be a good idea to leave a duplicate of everyday essentials out and ready for guests to use as they require, suggests Linda Smith, owner of home blog, burlap+blue.
‘As a frequent host, there are several inexpensive touches I always make sure to have in my home when hosting guests. First, I always have spare toiletries displayed in a basket in the bathroom, as well as extra towels so guests don't have to ask. I always have a carafe of water (and glasses) in the bedroom, as well as any information (our home address, wi-fi, and streaming passwords) prominently displayed.’
4. Washable slippers if you’re a shoe-free home
'If you are a shoe-free home I recommend investing in a few pairs of what the Russians call tapochki – washable slippers you can offer your guests when they are barefoot so their toes don't get cold,’ considers Genevieve Dreizen, COO. These can help to make your guests feel more at home while also keeping your home clean and tidy.
‘Sometimes I feel a little naked in my socks, we want to offer our guests comfort and warmth. Wash them after each use and put them in a basket by the door near your shoe storage. It'll make you seem like Martha Stewart, seriously.’
5. Quality serving utensils
Although we may be more focused on how to set a table for any occasion and how our dining table decor looks, pro hosts also pay close attention to their serving ware, shares Vivianne Chow, interior decorator and co-founder of Viv and Tim Home.
‘A serving utensil set is often forgotten but especially useful for hosting guests,’ she begins. ‘When serving so many dishes during the holidays, it's easy to run out of the normal serving utensils you have on hand.
‘You won't regret buying a versatile serving utensil set that includes plenty of tongs and serving spoons and forks.’
Was $240, now $99.96 at Sur La Table
This 8-piece utensil set is the best value I've seen and it's all thanks to the sale price. You get high-quality, unfussy utensils for more than half off, and while they're for cooking, they're good enough to substitute for serveware.
Vivianne Chow is an interior decorator and the founder of the home decor blog Viv and Tim Home. Vivianne, along with her husband, Tim, recently built a dream custom home and are tackling decorating room by room and sharing design tips and everything they’ve learned along the way.
6. Blank place cards
A key touch to tablescaping is a personalized place card, says interior decorator Vivianne Chow. While setting places may be a dinner party hosting rule to break according to some hosts, these small cards can offer a friendly touch to a more formal event:
‘When hosting and entertaining, I always make sure to create personalized place cards for each guest. They’ll appreciate and cherish the thoughtful personal touch of their name on their place setting. It doesn’t have to be fancy - just a simple handwritten place card will create that personalized feel.’ These can be inexpensive; even these simple place cards from Michael's will do.
How can I make my house better for hosting?
One of the best ways to make a home better for hosting is to declutter and clean. While these steps may seem simple, a clean and tidy space is enough to make any guest feel more comfortable in your space and will encourage them to remain neat while they stay, too. It also helps to set a good impression about you as a host, painting you as a person who pays meticulous attention to detail out of care for yourself and your guests.
How can I be a better host?
To be a successful host, you need to be attentive. This means preparing ahead for your guests to ensure they will have everything they need for their stay, whether that is good seating and comfort at a dinner party, or spare toiletries and fresh linens in guest bedrooms and bathrooms. It also means being attentive to what they might need when they arrive, providing them with drinks, or letting them know where they can charge their phones or find the Wifi password, etc.
It is not just what you have to make your home more accommodating as a host, but what you can do for your guests after they leave, too, reminds Laura Fischer, VP of product development. ‘Everyone loves leftovers so why not prepare and have to-go containers for your guests ready?’ she suggests.
‘As a host/hostess you will probably make too much food or your guests will bring too much food. So be sure to have containers for your guests so that they can help themselves to the leftovers.’
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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