A Hostess Party Checklist: How to Prepare Your Home for Parties and Dinners

Hosting season is here, and if you love hosting like I do, then you know how important it is to be prepared. In this article, I'll be sharing my personal hostess checklist to ensure that...

Hosting season is here, and if you love hosting like I do, then you know how important it is to be prepared. In this article, I'll be sharing my personal hostess checklist to ensure that every room in your house is ready for a party or dinner. Whether you're a seasoned hostess or new to the game, this checklist will help you stay organized and ensure that you don't forget any important details.

A checklist for the hostess

Holiday hosting can be a lot of work, but it's always worth it. Your friends and guests will appreciate the effort you put into creating a welcoming and inviting space. I personally like to keep a checklist on a Word document that I print out before every party to make sure I cover all the essentials.

Weeks/Days Before

  • Plan the menu and check with guests for any allergies or food intolerances. As a caring host, it's important to accommodate those with dietary restrictions by providing alternative options.
  • Book window cleaners to ensure that your home looks its best.
  • Buy ice in advance so you're not scrambling at the last minute.

Night Before

  • Set out big platters or serving dishes with Post-its indicating the specific food for each.
  • Set the table and make sure it looks inviting.
  • Dust and clean off patio furniture for any outdoor gatherings.
  • Arrange fresh flowers in bud vases or place new orchids around the home for an extra touch of elegance.

Morning Of

  • Blow off or sweep leaves by the front door to create a clean and welcoming entrance.
  • Clean the glass in the door and the front light to make everything sparkle.
  • Take out all the trash in the house to ensure there's plenty of space for the party.
  • Light candles throughout the house, using unscented ones near the food and scented ones in other rooms.
  • Clean the microwave so it's ready for any heating or reheating needs.
  • Fill a water pitcher or put water in the fridge to chill, covering it with Saran Wrap to keep it fresh.
  • Take photos for your blog or Instagram stories if applicable.
  • Ensure there's a new roll of toilet paper in the guest bathroom.
  • Arrange florals for a beautiful tablescape.

1 Hour Before

  • Play music in the entertaining rooms using Google or your TV.
  • Start a slideshow or program on TV, such as an Easter cartoon or an old Christmas movie, depending on the occasion.
  • Turn on string lights in the backyard and dim the indoor lighting for a cozy ambiance.
  • Fluff the pillows to make seating areas look inviting.
  • Spray counters and linens with your favorite spray for a fresh scent.
  • Check that the sink and toilet are clean and tidy.
  • Replenish disposable cloths, hand towels, and soaps in each bathroom.
  • Light a candle in the kitchen for a warm and inviting atmosphere.
  • Turn on the oven warmer for food that needs to stay hot.
  • Spray a room spray in each room, including the laundry room, to keep the space smelling lovely.
  • Open windows and skylights to let in fresh air and natural light.
  • Place a "Please do come in" sign on the front door to welcome your guests.
  • Prepare ice for drinks.
  • Adjust the temperature to create a comfortable environment.

15 Minutes Before

  • Light a candle in the dining room to set a cozy and intimate mood.
  • Plate the food or put it in a warmer to keep it deliciously hot.
  • Fill water glasses, ensuring everyone has a refreshing drink.
  • Restart the playlist on Spotify, playing your favorite music to set the mood.
  • Use Google Home to play music in specific rooms.
  • Turn on the TV if it's a type of party where you want guests to gather, such as a photo slideshow or a themed movie on mute.
  • Light the fireplace for ambiance, not for warmth. If it gets too warm, you can crack a window.
  • Light a candle in the powder room and throughout the house to create a pleasant and inviting atmosphere.
  • Keep the bathroom door slightly cracked or closed for privacy and comfort.

After the Party

  • Use Lysol spray to clean surfaces, couches, and doorknobs.
  • Re-fluff the pillows to make everything look neat and tidy.
  • Take out the trash to keep your home clean and fresh.
  • Start the dishwasher before going to bed or wait until the morning to do it.

The hostess party checklist

Hosting a party can be overwhelming, but it's essential to remain calm and happy when your guests arrive. Even if you're feeling a bit frazzled, remember that your guests are taking the time to be there, and that's a gift in itself. Enjoy the company and the precious time spent together.

Let me know if you have any other ideas or things you do to prepare before your guests arrive. I'm always looking for new tips and tricks to make hosting easier and more enjoyable.

If you have a shoes-off policy in your home, consider offering guests slippers. You can find disposable ones or cozy socks that match your decor. I personally like white, gray, or blue.

Disposable slippers

Additional Tips

  • Use place cards or seating cards to indicate where guests should be seated. It adds a touch of elegance and helps create a more organized seating arrangement.
  • Keep a scented candle burning in the powder bath or provide a spray so guests feel comfortable and refreshed.
  • Consider using disposable powder room towels for a more convenient and hygienic option. You can use a towel tray to display them beautifully.

If you'd like a PDF version of this checklist, you can download it here.

I share more hosting tips on Instagram, so make sure to follow me at @dianaelizabeth_ for more inspiration.

Photos by Kate Nelle, Makeup and hair by Lizzy Marsh

In conclusion, hosting a successful party or dinner is all about preparation and creating a welcoming atmosphere. With this checklist, you'll be able to stay organized and ensure that every detail is taken care of. Remember to enjoy the process and appreciate the time spent with your guests. Happy hosting!