Hosting a party can often feel overwhelming. From the prep to the after-party clean up, the whole affair can seem more like work than a fun gathering. However, hosting a party does not have to be an over-the-top event. In fact, with a few easy pre-party tips, you can have a fun, stress-free gathering that goes off without a hitch.

Here are six tips for easy home entertaining:

1. The Hostess Sets the Party Tone

As the party host, part of your job is to make sure everyone feels welcomed in your home. Regardless of whether the party is a casual gathering watching the big game via your Direct TV Sunday NFL Ticket package or a formal dinner party, it is important your guests feel comfortable and relaxed in your home. If you are panicked or flustered, your guests are going to feel like they are an inconvenience. By being relaxed and pleasant, your guests will feel at ease.

2. Party Lighting

One of the most important aspects to setting the mood of the gathering is the lighting set up. Try to distribute the light evenly throughout the room so that there is an ambient glow that feels calming rather than harsh. If having a dinner party, light a few unscented candles. Their light will offer an intimate glow while their scent won’t interfere with the food.

3. Be Prepped

To ease the party stress, prep ahead of time. The night before set out the wine glasses, coffee mugs, and other dishware. To simplify the party, keep the food simple. If possible, cook items ahead of time and give them a quick reheat before guests arrive.

4. Be Prepared

While you do not need to have everything ready as soon as the guests arrive, make sure to have the appetizers ready, drinks available, and music playing in the background. This helps create a friendly environment, immediately putting guests at ease as soon as they walk in the door.

5. Appetizers and Drinks

If the appetizers and drinks look too formal, most guests will not feel comfortable diving right in. While the food and drinks should look appetizing, they should not look to pretty to eat.

If you have a cheese platter, for example, make sure there is a slice or two of cheese pre-cut, giving guests the go-ahead to slice a few pieces and enjoy. Similarly, when it comes to the drinks, have the wine already open so that guests can easily pour a glass.

6. Clean Beforehand

One of the easiest ways to keep the party stress-free is to clean as you go. Because you will have dishware to clean after the party, try to have all other dishes cleaned and put away beforehand. While it does mean a little more cleaning during party prep, it will make the end of the evening much easier and more relaxed.

Having friends over should be fun and exciting rather than stressful and overwhelming. Using these tips will make your entertaining easy and enjoyable.

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