Hosting a dinner party is hard. You have to prep the food, prep your pad and prep yourself--all the while anticipating exactly which one of your friends will be the early bird. (Stupid Bev. It’s going to be Bev.)

As for the food, make it ahead and cook what you know.

As for everything else, here are 11 sanity-saving tips to help take the pressure off.

dinner1

SEND A PRETTY DIGITAL INVITE

It takes like two more minutes than an email and will make your friends ooh and ahh. (Even stupid Bev.)

dinner2

DO THE ALCOHOL MATH

There’s a science to calculating how much booze you should buy. On average, assume your guests will have two drinks per hour. This means that 8 guests x 2 drinks x 3 hours = 48 drinks (and a bottle of wine holds 5 glasses). This also means, when guests ask, "What can I bring?" You say, "Wine."

dinner3

SET THE TABLE THE NIGHT BEFORE

This is a major day-of time-saver. It’s also your moment to do a quick inventory check and figure out if you do, in fact, need to run that tablecloth through the wash.

dinner4

MAKE THE BAR SELF-SERVE

The last thing you need to worry about is whether or not guests have a drink in hand. Simply clear some counter space (or repurpose a side table) for barware, booze and all the fixings.

dinner5

BUY GROCERY STORE BLOOMS

They’re cheaper--and just as pretty. Stick to the same flower type and color scheme for easy arranging at home.

dinner6

BROWN BAG THE MENU

Grab a sharpie and map out the menu on brown paper lunch bags. Guests will love knowing what’s for dinner, and it’s a cheap and easy way to add some DIY charm to your decor.

dinner7

CREATE A PINTEREST-WORTHY CHEESE PLATE USING DENTAL FLOSS

Quickly and evenly cut delicate cheeses so they’re ready to display.

dinner8

MAKE A PAPER NAPKIN BOUQUET

Cut down on your cleanup time by using paper napkins instead of cloth. To be sure they still feel fancy, roll them loosely and arrange in a bowl for guests to grab easily.

dinner9

DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BATHROOM

Light a candle, clean the toilet and make sure you have enough TP. And if your bathroom doesn’t have a lock, use a blank notecard and piece of string to create your own “Occupied” sign.

Ice

...OR THE ICE

But if you do forget, throw wedges of lemon and lime on a baking sheet in the freezer for a colorful way to chill your drink.

GlobeLights

AND REMEMBER, GLOBE LIGHTS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER

You can’t beat instant ambiance--on the cheap. (Even Bev would agree.)

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