Some of my advice for hosting a group at home. These are things you can do the day-of (some could be done a bit more in advance); therefore, some early planning, including invites, isn’t addressed.
Preparing Yourself (and Others)
- Dress appropriately for the occasion—if you have a specific outfit in mind, you might want to change closer to the last minute to avoid any mishaps, especially if you’re doing messy prep work the day of.
- Take care of yourself. While it’s easy to let this slip, try to eat something and drink water, if for nothing else, to keep efficiency up.
- Try to put away your electronics and focus on the event when the time comes. You might want to find a way to monitor certain notifications, though, if people might be reaching out to you with last minute questions. If you have digital reference material, like recipes, that you might need: print it!
- Remember to check on any special needs/wants of guests. Polls are valuable.
- Make sure that any pets’ needs are handled, and keep in mind what your plan is for them during the event, if they’re going to be in a specific area or have free reign, etc. (and remember to warn guests in case of allergies).
Some General Prep
- Doors. Have the right ones closed, open, locked, unlocked, etc. If you expect to direct guests to a certain room, having the door generally open might help (like bathrooms).
- Lighting. Have guest areas lit as desired, and don’t forget pathways between them. Consider turning off the lights in areas guests don’t really need access to, to help highlight where things are going on.
- Do a quick thermostat check a bit before guests arrive, and set it to something comfortable. Consider the activities going on, the weather, etc.
- If there’s going to be music, get that set up—volume, playlist, etc.
- Label things if you think it will help—where certain supplies are, including food and drink, maybe rooms if people will spread out.
- If you have a guest manual or something of the sort, make sure it’s updated. At the least, have any house rules available, and the WiFi information if you’re handing it out.
- Keep an eye on certain supply levels close to the event—remember soap at the sinks, toilet paper, hand towels/paper towels, etc.
- Set up for any specific activities.
Clean, Clean, Clean
- Do the general tidying. Control clutter, straighten things up, especially picking up anything on the floor. Closing cabinets, drawers, and closet doors can instantly give a room a neater look.
- Clean floors and surfaces as needed; also check on windows and mirrors.
- Don’t forget any needed toilet cleaning.
- Run any couch pillows through the dryer for a quick fluff if you can.
- Get any dishes clean and put away; take out the trash (all of the bins if there are multiple, like little ones in the bathrooms), and don’t forget to put liners back in bins that have them.
- Make the beds if needed.
- Do any outdoor cleanup needed.
Food and More
- Don’t make something for the first time at/for an event. Pick recipes you have confidence in, and the right timing for. Consider if the food handles sitting out well if that will be an issue—if reheating methods are available, make that clear.
- Remember to set out anything guests might particularly want in the way of condiments, seasonings, etc.
- Set the table if that’s relevant.
- Try to at least have snacks, and if you’re hosting during a regular mealtime, serve something resembling that meal. Have snacks around even if you’re serving an entree, for the guest who shows up hungry before food is even close to ready, or the guest who gets hungry after the meal digests. Variety is always nice, and keeping snacks single-serve in some way can be helpful.
- Labeling things can help people out, and you might want to mark common allergens at a bigger event, especially if that allergen’s presence isn’t obvious.
- Drinks! Variety is your friend again. Ice is also your friend. Water and soda are always good. Consider coffee and tea depending on the time as well.
- Keep cups, plates, bowls, silverware, and napkins accessible. Consider offering chilled glasses by keeping some in the freezer.