Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How to Stage Your Home When Hosting Guests

*This post may contain affiliate links.

Hosting season is upon us!  Football parties, Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas gatherings, New Year’s Eve soirees… these next four months will be packed with opportunities to host. 

I for one have always adored hosting and I’ve done my fair share throughout the years – wedding showers, bachelorette parties, baby showers, birthday parties, random game nights, poker nights, Christmas dinners, Sunday dinners… I’ve done them all!  Since we are now in our 30s, wedding and baby season is pretty much behind us, so I don’t get the opportunity to host as much as I used to, but I still love to host when the opportunity arises.  In the words of Monica on Friends,

I’m a big believer in setting the mood/tone for a party, and in my opinion the ambience is just as important as the people and the food.  I like for our home to feel warm, inviting, and fun… a place where people can feel comfortable, kick back, and feel relaxed.  I typed up a checklist years ago containing all of the things that I do before we have people over, and I’m going to share it with you today.

Tidy Up Your Living Space

This one pretty much goes without saying… it’s obvious that you don’t want your guests tripping over the kids’ toys or sitting on old magazines.  I always do a full sweep putting all of our things where they belong before we have company.  Just remember, everything has a place and everything in its place.  It’s a good motto to live by.  ;o)

Hide Things No One Should See

This may sound a little strange, and it also might not be something that you would have even thought of, but I’m sure that everyone has something that they don’t necessarily want their guests to see.  A baby gate?  Prescriptions?

For us, there are two things I can think of… first of all, there is a toy basket that has a permanent home in our living room.  I typically put it upstairs in the play room for the evening to give the room a less-cluttered feel.  Second of all, Maui sleeps in our guest bathroom, so her crate and bed are always in there.  While having them there doesn’t bother us on a daily basis, when we have guests over I do like to hide them to make the bathroom look like, well, a bathroom and not a doggie daycare.  I just stick the crate and bed in the bathtub behind the shower curtain and nobody ever even knows it’s there!  Unless, of course, they’re nosy and they look behind the curtain!  To which they will also find the plunger and a couple of other odds and ends.  Hehe.  #NobodyEverShowersInThere  

Clean All Surfaces

In addition to making sure that everything is tidy, I also make sure that everything is clean.  I scrub the toilets, dust and wipe down all surfaces, sweep, mop, and/or vacuum all floors.  Your guests probably won’t want to come back if they have to use a filthy toilet.  ;o)  I totally love this as an all-purpose cleaner.  It's fantastic!

Turn on Ambient Lighting

You can never have too many lamps or twinkle lights.  And I do mean any time of the year, not just at Christmas.  Ever since I moved out of my parents’ house I’ve had a ficus tree carefully wrapped in white twinkle lights somewhere in my house.  In our old house, it was in the dining room, but in our current home we have one in our dining as well as front and center in the living room where we spend the majority of our time.  I cannot stress how much a simple strand of twinkle lights can transform a space. 

Our ambient lighting includes all lamps (we have a ton of them), the light over our mantle, the twinkle lights in the ficus tree in the living room and the dining room, my marquee letters in the kitchen, and the string lights on our back porch.  It sounds like a lot, but it only takes a matter of minutes to turn them all on and have them shining brightly!

Open the Blinds

Opening the blinds and/or shutters makes the house feel more open, it lets natural light in (if the party is during daylight hours) and in my personal opinion, it just makes the house look more elegant.  Plus, that allows your guests to see your beautiful string lights on the back porch!

Light Candles

I burn candles pretty much year round.  I have a signature spring and summer scent (Limoncello), a signature fall and Christmas scent (Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin), and a signature New Year’s scent (Champagne Toast).  I also love this candle during the early months of the year.  It is seriously one of the best scented candles ever. 

These scents all make our home smell divine and that really adds to the overall ambiance of the room.  I typically light one in the kitchen so the scent wafts through the entire downstairs level, and I also light one in the guest bathroom. 

*Just be sure to keep them out of the reach of little hands if you’re hosting a party where kids will be present.

Comprise the Perfect Playlist

Music is powerful.  So very powerful.  A song can transport you back to a specific time and place in a split second.  It has always been at the forefront of my life and I play it constantly in the house, in the car, and at work.  Y’all all know that I have a very eclectic taste in music, but if I could only listen to one genre for the rest of my life it would be standards and jazz from the 40’s.  Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday… What a fantastic decade for music.  It is definitely my go-to for dinner parties.  There’s just something about a piano, a saxophone, a trumpet, and a bass combined with a sultry voice that just exudes relaxation and contentment.

My play list does vary based on the event, though!  I tend to love folksy music (think Ray Lamontagne and The Lumineers) during the spring, country music during the summer, old standards in the fall, and then, of course, Christmas tunes pretty much any time after November first. 

Music is everything and a good playlist can really set the tone for your party.  

Decorate for the Occasion

I am all about a good party theme.  All about it.  Decorations just add to the fun in my opinion, so I love to decorate – fun plates and napkins, adorable paper straws, a good table cloth, maybe even a festive banner over the fireplace.  I also love to tie-in my chalkboard in the kitchen with the theme.  So fun!

Create a Signature Cocktail

I know this is not really a part of house staging, but I thought that I would mention it because it is also something that I love for setting the mood at a party.  We are big drinkers in our family and B and I love to open a bottle of wine, try a new craft beer, or whip up a good cocktail, and I love mixing up something special for our guests.  Heck, we even have a fully stocked bar cart!  We hosted my entire extended family (30+ people) for Christmas several years in a row after we moved in our house and I always made a huge batch of Christmas punch.  Unfortunately I didn’t blog back then so the recipe isn’t already on my blog, but maybe I’ll have to remedy that this Christmas and get it up here!

I also love serving Moscow Mules in our frosty copper mugs or whipping up a batch of margaritas in our cactus margarita glasses, and I also really love this recipe for summer.  Ask my Momma… she loves it, too!

For kid-friendly parties, I love dumping bottles of lemonade in my punch bowl and lining the side of the bowl with fresh lemon wedges.  So simple, but it pacts a punch simply because of the way it’s presented.  When my mom and I hosted a baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law two years ago we even did a hot chocolate bar and it set the tone for a very cozy evening.

Well, I think that’s enough rambling for one day... I’ll leave you with a list of parties that I’ve hosted that are actually on the blog.  There aren’t many since I’ve only been blogging for a couple of years, but this should at least give you a taste of what I love.

Olivia's Pink & Gold Themed First Birthday (my most viewed post ever)
Jacob's Poo Poo Party (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like)

Also, if you would like to see the rest of our home, all links to all of the rooms including all of my holiday decorations are listed here.

And before I go, I thought that I would mention this because I found it pretty hilarious… as I was going over my list for this post, I saw that #6 said “turn on digital picture frame in kitchen.”  Haha.  That just goes to show you how old my original list is! 

Now to prepare for the football get-together that we are hosting this weekend!  Happy Tuesday, y’all!

And now it's time for the Tuesday Talk Link Up!

Hosted by:

Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Lindsay at Lindsay's Sweet World | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Sarah at Sarah E. Frazer | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram


  1. Eek. What a great list. I love hosting. We are hosting our Bulldawg Bash this Saturday. Can't wait.

  2. This is a really great list! I can't wait to order the candles you recommend.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you find it helpful. You will love the candles!

  3. Beautiful tips and ones I can use for staging the house for selling too. We put it on the market next week. I have a few signature cocktails up my sleeve. I just know your parties are the BEST!

  4. What a great list! I love the idea of creating a signature drink and creating a playlist. I love to entertain but I hate the prep work 😣

  5. I can think of a few things I always put away if someone is planning to come over - just makes things look a bit neater and put together!

  6. Dustin keeps our bills in a drop off spot on a counter when we come in the door and that's something we always hide when guests come over haha! And yes to a good playlist. I love hosting!
    Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  7. Oooo what a fun post and great tips!! We always hide the stuff that we clutter on our counters, bills, papers, reminders, etc!

  8. So many great tips! When we had dogs, I was big on putting them in another room when guests were here. Although most of them liked dogs, I'm not one to force my pets on people! A tidy up basket is my friend, too. Everything I don't want to be seen gets placed in the basket and put in a closet until the guests leave!

    1. Yeah, that's so true! And YES to a tiday up basket!! Such an easy way to wrangle everything!

  9. A great list. I always say don't come 20 minutes early, you never know what shape it might be in ;). My friend always is burning a candle when I come over and what a lovely smell to walk into! Xoxo ERIN

  10. You are totally the hostess with the mostest. I think I do a lot of these things subconsciously, but it is nice to see a list too.

  11. I love this! I love finding an excuse to throw a party, and these tips are great.

  12. These are great tips. We love hosting parties and lighting a candle is always a must. I'm always worried our house smells like our dog even though we try to clean it as best as we can. Beautifully Candid

  13. These are great ideas! I got burnt out on hosting parties after doing it for years, and now I only host about 2 per year. I wish my friends helped pick up the slack more, but I think they realize it is a lot of work!

  14. Love hosting! These are all such great tips!

  15. What great tips! Your house is so pretty. I love the playlist too.

  16. I love this list! And I totally agree-ambient light makes Such a difference! I always think how people feel walking into a party is as important as the food itself for sure!

  17. Can I come to your house during one of your parties?? Haha! Your gatherings seem so fun! I always stick things behind the shower curtain, too. I'm glad I'm not the only one haha! :)

    1. Yes, please do! And I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who sticks stuff behind the shower curtain either! Haha. Great minds think alike!

  18. I'd like to come visit your home, you make it sound so comfy cozy! I love all the parties you throw and the ideas you come up with, so awesome!

  19. You are so right about it being hosting season! Bring on the college football parties!! :) These are wonderful tips, friend!

  20. I love hosting, too!! It's so fun. I'd love to hang some twinkle lights on our deck :) I also think it's great to put away private things or clutter you guests could trip over. I always put away our pets when we have guests over. One of our cats is super friendly to guests (he crawled into one of my friend's purses during bookclub :) so I don't want guests to feel awkward around my pets.

  21. We really enjoy entertaining and hosting as well, so I was anxious to read this post when I saw it pop up in my bloglovin feed. Seriously love the tip about hiding stuff behind the shower curtain. Ha!

  22. These tips are great! I remember growing up my mom's motto was "just put it in the garage!" when we were having company. Everything went in the garage and we still laugh to this day because whenever they can't find something at their house my mom says "I probably put it in the garage!"

  23. I LOVE this post and everything on it! What a GREAT list! I also hide things in random places that you won't find unless your nosey! :)

  24. Great tips! When my boys were younger and had toys around in our playroom I'd let them put some toys away in their room that they didn't want to have to share with others (since I am ALWAYS the host we typically have lots of families over with kids and my boys didn't always want to share everything they owned with everyone and I wanted them to know it was OK). We often locked their doors to keep everyone downstairs too since many of their cousins loved to wander and explore. ;)

    1. YES! This is brilliant!! We had to start doing that, too, after some of Jacob's huge LEGO sets got torn up. I felt so terrible when that happened. He was crushed.


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