So you bit the bullet and finally decided to host a party at your place—you’ve been meaning to show off your new crushed-velvet chaise longue for a while now. The date is set…but now what? If you’re not quite sure where to even begin, we’ve got *the* six most important things you need to host the best soirée ever.

party invitations
Twenty20

A Detailed Invite

We hate the feeling of showing up to a party not knowing what to expect. Don’t make your guests wonder. Instead, send an invite (yes, a simple email will do) that details your fete so your office buddy doesn’t show up in athleisure 30 minutes late to a structured dinner party. Also, lay out what will be served. Just apps? Only cocktails? A 23-course meal? Sharing the deets means fewer questions for you to field and no low-blood-sugar fainters.

Sponsored coke with swirled straws
Photo: Michael Marquand/Styling: Erin McDowell

No-Fail Beverage Bar

When it comes to serving drinks, simple is usually best—and classic is even better. For a fun, personalized touch your guests will love, stock your beverage area with single-serve bottles of Coke. Fill a cooler with ice and Coca-Cola and plenty of paper straws for a truly Instagram-ready party.

 

katsu bites with chipotle sauce
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Plenty of Food

Show of hands: Who’s been to a party where the food offerings were such an afterthought that you beelined to Steak ’n Shake immediately after? Yep, us too. Well-fed guests are happy guests, so make a point of having enough food—and good options—for everyone. First, decide what vibe you’re going for. If you want to have appetizers only, try these crowd-pleasing katsu bites with chipotle-gochujang sauce and a well-stocked grazing board (aka a “fruicuterie”). If you’re going for something more substantial, like a dinner party, build your menu from surefire make-ahead recipes. Now all you need is some table talk.

iphone with speaker
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Reliable Entertainment System

Sure, you can play music from your phone, but to really create an enveloping atmosphere, you’ll need a set of speakers. Don’t worry, you won’t have to spend your entire paycheck on a sound system. There are plenty of affordable options. Opt for a portable Bluetooth speaker rather than one with a phone dock so that you can control the music without being directly next to the speaker. Oh, and don’t forget to put together a killer playlist.

woman setting dinner table
svetikd/Getty Images

One Thoughtfully Decorated Corner

Would you like your entire abode to look like Martha Stewart was your roommate? Of course. But for now, focus on where the center of the party will be—whether that’s the dining room, kitchen island or living room—and make it pop with your favorite tablecloth, candlesticks and decor. As for the rest of the house? Do a quick run-through and tidy up. Put away random toys, fold the laundry that’s been sitting in the basket for the past week and wipe down the countertops. See? A party doesn’t have to be intimidating.

bathroom counter with flowers
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Fully Stocked Bathroom

To avoid having guests rummage through your cabinets looking for more toilet paper or hand towels (guilty), put the essentials in plain sight. Assemble a small basket of necessities that your guests might need when using the restroom and display it where everyone can see it. This way, guests can help themselves to whatever they need and won’t have to feel embarrassed asking.

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