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In 60 Seconds

How to Get Your Home Party-Ready in 60 Seconds

5 experts weigh in so you’ll never be ill-prepared again.

By: Jodi Taylor

Nothing says adult more than hosting a (sophisticated, Solo cup-free) holiday party for your friends. But chances are that your apartment or home may not be there quite yet, no matter how grown-up you might feel. A lot goes into hosting a party, and the to-do list can run pretty deep in the days leading up to an event—whether it’s your first time entertaining at your place or your tenth. With that in mind, we reached out to five experts in the event planning industry for their tips on how to get your house guest-ready, so that you’re able to host the party of the year.

 

Nicky Balestrieri

Co-founder of The Gathery

 

On the most important thing to consider when hosting at your house:

“Only serve red wine at the table. My apartment is mostly covered in white, ivory, and light gray, so I keep cocktails and wines light-colored when having people plop about my home. Also, shoe basket at entry—NYC streets are gross, and you don’t need that traipsing about your apartment.”

Three things to always have on hand:

“A full bar—any host should have one and it should reflect the things you love. I have Aperol and Campari for when I’m feeling my Italian heritage, mezcal because it’s like tequila but way better, Cointreau (essential for any bar), and loads of other things for guests to choose from. Also, an artisanal board—I have this great one that my friend Laura gave me from her farm, Westwind Orchard. I load it up with cheeses, meats, nuts, crackers, and dried and fresh fruits from Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg. The fuller, the better. Plus, a good candle—I am currently burning Bellocq’s The White Wolf, which come in these fabulous brass cylinders (that I use for flower vases when they are done).”

How to make your guests feel comfortable:

“Everyone stands in the kitchen until you lead them somewhere else. If you sit at the table, your guests will follow.”

If you are crunched for time, the one thing that you should *definitely* do:

“Grab a bunch of eucalyptus from your deli, wash it, and throw it in a solid-color pitcher. It will make your house smell great and is the simplest flower arrangement for any occasion.”

On the quickest way to decorate your space:

“Lighting is everything. When you design your house (or shop for lighting), think about the different settings your apartment could have and you’ll always be party-ready.”

Pro-party tip:

“Get a Sodastream. You’ll always have soda water on hand for cocktailing!”

 

Jennifer Bassett

Founder of Bassett Events

 

First steps when entertaining at your home:

“Confirming my caterer is first on my to-dos. Then I arrange for my florist to visit the house. Scenting the house is [also] a must—a great scented candle or room spray does the trick.”

The fastest way to decorate your space:

“Lots of candles and flowers.”

On a quick and easy cocktail to have on hand:

“A glass of champagne never goes out of style.”

 

On where to begin:

“One of the first things you should do while preparing to host in your home is take a walk through the space and identify any furniture or day-to-day items that are unnecessary to have out during your party. You will want to de-clutter and create more room for entertaining and hosting guests. Keep a few key accessories so your space remains styled, welcoming, and warm, but remember to take all the extras away so you will have space for cocktails, canapés, and roaming guests.”

Three things to always have on hand:

“Ice! Always buy more ice than you think you will need. Bottles of wine—at the end of the day, if you run out of a garnish for that holiday cocktail you planned to make all night, you can always serve glasses of wine. Simple luxuries like candles, hand soap, and crisp hand towels. Nothing beats a table of Diptyque candles, Aesop in your powder room, and a basket of bright white waffle towels to make your guests feel like you have truly thought out every last detail!”

If you are crunched for time, the one thing that you should *definitely* do:

“Tidy up your space and put bottles of champagne on ice!”

On the quickest way to decorate your space:

“Fill beautiful apothecary jars with caramels, truffles, and candy canes for a functional decorative treat. Bring the outdoors in—undecorated miniature evergreens placed in a vase is clean and simplistic, perfect for the holidays if you don’t have the additional space or want to go through the trouble of decorating a ten-foot tree. Small changes can make a big impact—try replacing throw pillows and small accessories in your home with something a little more cozy and seasonal.”

 

On the best way to prep:

“I start with the space—it’s your blank canvas for the party and it sets the mood. Move out oversize cumbersome furniture and clear surfaces of small decorative objects to make room for cocktails, canapés, and candles. Clear a path towards the bar, bring in something fragrant to freshen up the space—this time of year that could be garlands of cedar, juniper, and eucalyptus, or seasonal scents like clove, orange, and cinnamon. Once your space is ready you can start to add in the extras—stock the bar, light candles, turn on the music, or just call for pizza delivery.”

On the most important thing to remember:

“Roll with the punches. Pouring rain? Pull out the beach towels and greet your guests with a dry wrap, a warm hug, and shot of brandy. Did the dog eat the tenderloin off the counter? Find a solution and move on—Chick-fil-A looks fantastic on my mother’s china.”

Three things to have on hand:

“Candles, vodka, [and] salty snacks—roasted nuts, crunchy kettle potato chips, homemade cheese straws (every good Southerner keeps them in the freezer).”

If you are crunched for time, the one thing that you should *definitely* do:

“Buy ice. At a good party, your freezer will never keep up, so stock up on plenty of ice to keep cocktails cool and glasses full.”

One thing to never forget:

“Turn [up] the AC. When all that body heat is in one place (add several cocktails and all those candles), the temperature of your space will rise! No one wants an overheated guest until the late-night dance party, so plan for it and turn down the thermostat at least 15 minutes before guests arrive.”

 

On the most important thing to consider when entertaining at your home:

“Lighting (dim) and music (a little louder than usual)—when people have to slightly raise their voice to talk with each other, it instantly creates a fun, buzzy atmosphere.”

On the quickest way to decorate your space:

“Light tons of candles and set up all the drinks and glassware on a bar cart or side table. Around the holidays I love to make a festive spiked punch and serve it old-school in a punch bowl with a big fruit-filled ice ring.”

On the best quick and easy cocktail to have on hand:

“Champagne with pomegranate seeds.”

 

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