How To Prepare for a Party and Entertain Your Guests

Updated 4/14/24

Bassett Beckham Sectional With Ottoman

Preparing to entertain guests is like preparing for that final exam (yes, the one that still wakes you up at night). How well you do depends on how well you prepare for it. So let's start at the beginning: Who will you invite? What's the occasion or theme? What's on the menu? Do you have a budget in mind? We know it's a lot to unravel! But don't worry; we've got insider tips on how best to prepare for a house party by utilizing your multifunctional furniture pieces.

Entertaining is drastically different nowadays. Invitations can be emailed or texted within minutes, and foods from around the corner or around the world can be ordered online and delivered to your door. And dining doesn't have to mean sitting at a dining table; it could be enjoyed al fresco by the fire pit. Rules no longer exist (which makes it altogether less stressful and more appealing to entertain), although a few key ingredients are required. 

Figure Out the Details of Your Party

Decide what kind of affair you'd like to have and think through all the details: who, what, where, when, and why? If it's a dinner party, determine the number of guests. Consider where you will serve guests and whether you'll have enough seating. Both informal and formal get-togethers will require some form of invitation (text, email, phone call, or snail mail) specifying the date, time, attire, and a way to RSVP. Remember, an RSVP is critical if you're planning a sit-down meal. The sooner you send your invitations, the more likely your guests will accept.

Pro Tip: When planning more formal party entertainment ideas for guests, a general rule of thumb says you should estimate 10 percent of invitees will be unable to attend. Invite a few more if that's a concern.

So What's on the Menu?

Next, evaluate your cooking abilities. You probably can't become Bobby Flay overnight. But you don't have to be! Your guests are coming for your company, not for a five-star meal. Plan your menu, and remember, a potluck is an easy and fun way to see friends and share the load. Shop our sideboards and servers if you need a convenient place to serve your meal away from the table.


Pro Tip: Never make a recipe for guests you haven't already tried out on yourself or your loved ones.

Prepare Your Home to Entertain

Whatever you can do ahead of time, do ahead of time. Things like cleaning the house, polishing silver, and taking out the good glassware can all be done ahead of time. There will be plenty of last-minute to-dos on the day before and the day of your event. Make your playlist, and add a few old Motown favorites. Make your grocery shopping list and prep or freeze any items you can.

Set the table. Do you have enough dining chairs, or will you need a bench or long ottoman? Tablecloth or placemats? Cloth or paper napkins? If you choose cloth, you better set up the iron too. Will your meal be plated (meaning, you serve a plate with food presented on it), a buffet, or family-style? If it's family-style, that etagere can work as a sideboard holding heavy serving bowls. Multi-functional pieces of all kinds can be your lifesaver. Now, think about the type of statement you'll want to make with your centerpiece … but hold off on buying flowers until the day of the party, so they're fresh.

If it's a holiday or themed event, get your decorations up. Be creative. Express your personality: group candles or sparkling tea lights. If one looks good, three will look even better.

And for Tonight's Entertainment...

If your party entertainment ideas for guests include playing games after dinner, check them beforehand to be sure all the pieces are intact and that you have the necessary pencils and paper ready. You can download games on your smartphone like Heads Up or go old school and play charades. Divide the group into two teams. Direct each team to develop categories (we recommend Movie, TV, Book, or Song) and work as a team to create 12 challenges (write them on slips of paper to be folded up). Taking turns each team member will take a turn acting out the challenge for their team within a three-minute time limit. (Your smartphone has a stopwatch too.) The team with the most points wins.


Before starting, make sure everyone's comfortable. Sectional sofas are great for bringing people closer; likewise, sofas facing each other would be perfect for game playing where teams are divided. Consider the Beckham modular sectional that can be moved around easily and reconfigured if you entertain a lot. Plus, it has a storage ottoman to hide all those games when you're done.

Last-Minute Dinner Party Entertainment Ideas

On the day of your event, do that last-minute grocery store run for flowers, limes, ice, or whatever. Check the bathroom to be sure the hand towels are fresh; toilet paper is stocked. Get your meal together as early as possible. Shower and dress at least an hour before guests are due to arrive. Light all the candles. Take a deep breath and relax. One of the essential elements to remember is to have a good time. If you enjoy yourself, your guests will enjoy themselves, too!

A few rules a thoughtful host follows:

• Greet guests at the door with a warm welcome and take their coats.

• Offer them a drink. Make a batch of one special cocktail ahead of time.

• Introduce guests who don't know each other.

• Have tempting hors d'oeuvres with napkins, toothpicks, or whatever's necessary.

• Don't rush to remove dinner plates after dinner – some of the best conversations happen on a satisfied stomach.

• Let each guest know how happy you are to see them.

• If there's a mishap, show some grace. Fix what you can and move on.

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