Cut Your Party Prep Time Down with These Simple Touches

A tablescape set for a party.
Disinvite complication to your next party.

A friend recently asked me, “What do you suggest to make your entertaining look like you spent all day preparing for guests but didn’t?” What a great question! Let’s be honest, who has the time or energy to spend hours in the kitchen, whipping up a homemade meal or creating the perfect tablescape? You don’t need hours—just a few, simple touches are all that’s necessary to welcome your guests.

I always start with my table, and my mind always defaults to fresh flowers, fabulous candles and great linens—nothing fancy. My go-to linen for my table right now is a navy/white pinstriped runner from Pottery Barn. I love its simplicity and the playful impact it creates on the table. Let the season suggest fresh floral selections, candles and napkins. There is always a fun selection of seasonally-inspired items at our favorite, local gift shops and markets.

I love setting my table buffet style, inviting guests to mingle around the table while enjoying small bites of the season’s favorite dishes. Lean on your favorite market for fresh salads, dips and a few main entrées. Stop by the local bakery for fresh breads, rolls and an assortment of decadent sweets.
Pull out a few serving trays for wine and cocktail glasses. Fill a nice bucket with ice and several selections of wine. Stock a nearby bar cart with a few, simple liquors and mixers. Don’t forget pretty bowls of garnishes.

With a smart fluff of the pillows, a quick vacuum, the placement of fresh towels in the guest bathroom and a flicker to light the candles, you’re ready for the doorbell with a warm welcome that didn’t take all day to create. Let the simplicity of a few go-to ideas help host great entertaining.