So you're about to have a dozen or so people over to your house. We know you've done all the usual things -- your refrigerator's full, your signature cookies are cooling -- but let's clue you in on a couple of things you may want to take care of before the doorbell rings.
- Strip the bathroom: I don't mean clean, I mean strip. Pack away all those medicines and the cream for the strange rash you had last summer in a box and bury it in the back of your closet. People will look through your medicine cabinet. Things you might want to stock it with instead: Advil, cough medicine, a thermometer, band aids, extra rolls of toilet paper that are easy to locate, disposable toothbrushes (someone will have forgotten to bring theirs), a stack of guest towels, tissues, female products. And if you haven't made the switch already, try a pump soap. A stool is handy if you have a lot of small children coming.
- Extra dishtowels: Hopefully you have a dishwasher. Not everything will fit into it. You will say yes when guests offer to help you with the dishes. Dishtowels can dry pots, they can serve as makeshift dishracks for the extra large platter, sopping up the water so your wooden credenza isn't ruined, they sub for potholders or trivets in a pinch.
- A clear place to put trash and recyclables: Don't be afraid to label what goes where otherwise you'll have food in your recyclables.
- A place for coats and bags: For us, it's usually the bedroom, which means that room gets a extra clean sweep, with all surfaces cleared. Put away any knickknacks you're worried about. If you don't have a mirror in your bedroom, it might be nice to stick one in there so guests can take a last glance at their hair or check their lipstick without having to duck into the already popular bathroom.
- Label your platters: If you know that Aunt Beth is bringing her famous biscuits, have a platter already set up, with a card labeled so you're not searching for platters and figuring out a place to put the food just at the moment when everyone arrives, which they invariably all do.
- Matches or a lighter: locate them now because when you need them to light the candles, they will have disappeared from the junk drawer.
- Extra spoons or forks: If your family's like mine, everyone always ends up in the kitchen, picking at the food. Keep fingers out of the food by offering spoons or forks so that everyone's fingers are not in the food. Even better: set aside a little bit of the food just for people to pick on.
- Throws and pillows: Often it's chilly in the house, with people banging in and out, or someone curls up for a nap after dinner. Make it comfy by keeping throws and pillows in easy reach.
Image: The Dunaway's Winery Inspired Retreat