Hosting made easy: Get your home 'guest ready'
Want to throw an unforgettable party?
Whether it’s a dinner party, an intimate soirée, a big birthday bash, or simply a visit from the in-laws, we’ve got you covered. Learn how to be the host with the most, as we teach you how to party prep your house like an absolute pro.
Guests shouldn’t have to ask
This is hosting etiquette 101. Ensure that anything your guests could possibly need is readily available and easy to find during their stay. This includes refreshments, somewhere to sit down, and a bathroom at the very least. Hosting expert Cambria Bold, calls this the “Path to Pampering”, and the key to achieving it is all in the preparation.1 It’s a method that takes the pressure off you, as guests can simply help themselves. This frees up more of your time for socialising — and helps avoid those awkward questions about the toilet roll.
Keep it clean for the perfect party scene
Our recent survey revealed that 91% of people feel the need to clean and tidy their home before having guests over.2 This can often seem like a mammoth task, so here’s how to approach it:
- Start by de-cluttering, so that your guests aren’t falling over things. This will create more space and give your home a lighter, brighter and more welcoming feel.
- Give your kitchen and bathroom a good clean, as well as any other rooms you plan to use. Focus on surfaces, as flooring is likely to pick up dirt again once guests arrive.
- Put away delicate items to avoid breakages, and switch off computers, TVs and other distracting devices — your guests are here to spend time with you, not look at a screen!
Where there are party guests, there’s likely to be spillages. Keep a mini cleaning kit to hand so you can clear up quickly and easily, without making guests feel bad. The best way to approach such situations is with a little humour — after all, everyone’s there to have fun!
Form first impressions in the hallway
According to interior designer, Jessica McClendon, “Great design can shift not only the way you feel in your home, but also how others feel when you welcome them inside.”3 The hallway is the first place guests see when they enter your home, so let it set the mood.
Build an ambience with lighting, seasonal décor and music. Lamps or lanterns paired with soft furnishings and gentle music create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. This will make your guests feel at ease as soon as they walk through the front door. You should also provide somewhere for guests to store their coats and bags (such as a closet, hat stand or coat rack), and show them where to find the essentials (bathroom, snacks and beer).
Liven up your living room
Our survey found that 65% of people prefer to entertain guests in their living room, making this the perfect place to spark up the life and soul of the party (unless you’re hosting a dinner). Choose warm, subtle lighting for an intimate and flattering glow, and make sure there’s enough seating with lots of cosy cushions. Fairy lights and candles are a magical way to add extra character — but be careful not to place them anywhere that could be knocked.
Most living rooms are prime stomping ground for a dancefloor. If you want to encourage guests to loosen up a little, we recommend adding a disco ball and some feel-good tunes. Try to choose music that will satisfy all tastes — you don’t want to be the only one dancing! Better yet, get some live music or a DJ going and encourage guests to request songs or get up and play.
Keep your kitchen well stocked
There’s nothing that makes guests happier than a well-stocked kitchen. Again, try to cater to all tastes, and remember that not everyone will want to drink alcohol all night, so include a selection of soft drinks. Water should be available in every room, which you can zest up with slices of fruit in elegant pitchers (citrus and cucumber are classics). Keep beer, white wine and mixers in the fridge, along with a cool box full of ice, and perhaps even a cocktail-making station for that extra dash of fun.
You’re in dangerous territory if you hand out alcohol without food. So if you’re not offering a meal, at least lay out some snacks and canapés. Remember to provide bowls for pits, shells or tails, and include something for those with a sweet tooth. Guests will always enjoy food but they’ll enjoy your company more, so do your prep before they arrive. If you’re hosting a dinner party, use a timer so you can enjoy socialising while dinner is cooking — and to avoid any burnt snacks!
Deck out your dining room
Set the dining table before guests arrive, using the appropriate cutlery for the number of courses. Placemats, candles and flowers can really bring a table to life, and you can even introduce a dinner party game for added entertainment.
For large groups, you may want to assign seats to avoid confusion, as this means you can spice things up a little by separating couples and placing quiet guests with chattier ones. If you’re not a confident chef, put on a buffet and ask guests to bring a sweet or savoury dish — this offers a more relaxed vibe and the variety of food will be a great conversation starter.
Create a beautiful bathroom
Never underestimate the impact of a beautiful bathroom. Rule number one is to make sure guests know where it is. To avoid confusion after a few glasses of red, you can even put a little sign on the door. It goes without saying that the bathroom should be clean and smell fresh. Add a stack of fluffy guest towels (rolled up for a stylish feel), a few scented candles, some fragrant hand soap and lavish hand cream. Spare your guests any embarrassment by leaving a basket of extra toilet paper in there too.
Freshen up the guest room
Our research revealed that 25% of people wouldn’t want guests to see their bedroom. If this is the case, keep those doors shut. If a guest is staying over, you’ll want to give the spare room a freshen up as they can gather dust when unoccupied. Add plants or flowers to purify the air and stick scent diffusers to continually emit a lovely fragrance.
Remember, this is your guest’s place of refuge so it should be comfy and peaceful. Take inspiration from luxury hotels with crisp white sheets, at least two pillows per person, decorative cushions, a mirror, a cosy rug and a reading lamp. For bonus points, leave out a fresh pair of slippers, a bathrobe and the Wi-Fi password.
Bring the indoors out
If it’s warm, why not take the party outside? Nothing beats watching the sun go down on a summer’s eve. Garden and tea parties are always a big hit, with artificial grass providing the ideal, low maintenance, outdoor flooring. With this, you can bring the interior out by throwing rugs and cushions onto the durable grass, and hanging lanterns and fairy lights in the trees for a Moroccan-inspired soirée. You can even bring out some furniture, such as sofas and coffee tables, for a quirky but cosy garden party.
Leave a lasting impression
Finishing touches may seem small, but they go a long way. These can be the difference between “just another party” and “an unforgettable night”. Be the icing on the cake. Take lead from your favourite bars and restaurants by providing mints, toothpicks and a little goodie bag of leftovers. And most importantly, show your guests warmth and gratitude for coming, because, as McClendon points out: “When it comes down to it, hospitality is one of those intangibles that make the difference between a house and a home.”
2Results from a survey of 3000 UK adults, conducted November – December 2017