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Throwing a party can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you nail the basics, people will just assume you are a pro. As for the rest? You can fake it till you make it. Here, the top eight things to master before you send out dinner-party invites.

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How to open a bottle of wine

Sure, it looks simple when your waiter opens a bottle at Al Biernat’s, but when all of your thirsty friends’ eyes are on you, you feel the pressure. We love this easy-peasy tutorial by Texas-based blogger Camille Styles. As for recorking? We got you, girl (as if there will be any left over).


How to set the table

Let’s be real. There are million ways to set a modern table, but you only need to memorize one. We love this diagram by Colin Cowie that makes it a snap to deck out your dining-room table. Don’t have extraneous salad forks or bread plates? Use what you’ve got—just be consistent with each setting and you’ll look like a pro.


How to arrange flowers

Flowers are pretty by themselves, so your job is just to make sure they stand up straight in their vase. Here’s a super-simple trick requiring some Scotch tape, your vase and whatever gorgeous blooms you brought home.


How to create a playlist

Spotify has made creating playlists easy as pie if you don’t fancy yourself the ultimate DJ. The only thing you have to do is consider what mood you’re going for—chill, relaxed, upbeat—and there will be a playlist to match.

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How to build a cheese board (under $25)

Some hostesses wear their cheese-board abilities like a badge of honor, and we can’t blame them. But it doesn’t have to be complicated or pricey. Really, it’s all about variety of color, consistencies and crackers. Adding nuts, meat and a veggie of some sort never hurts, either.


How to prep the bathroom

It’s the little things that make your guests feel comfortable. You know, like stocking the bathroom with plenty of toilet paper and paper towels. You can’t lose if you also light a wonderfully scented candle.


How to work ahead

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the perfect party. If you’re serving dinner and drinks, try using recipes (like eggplant parm) you can make ahead of time so that you can enjoy mingling with your guests. (We just love these infusion cocktails that require minimal effort but feel extra special.)


How to outsource

Don’t forget to be realistic. If cooking isn't your forte but you still want to entertain, Central Market makes delicious and elegant ready-made meal items. Want to impress your guests with dessert? SusieCakes would love to take your order. At the end of the day, your guests don’t care if you made the food, they are just happy to be your company (with a great glass of wine).

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