Prepare Your Living Room for an Evening of Entertaining with Our Best Tips
With a few simple adjustments, your home will be party-ready and safe, too.
If you're having a get-together at home, the food and drinks aren't the only things you should prepare. Think of your guests' comfort (and safety, too): Is there enough seating? Is the bar in an accessible spot? Have you eliminated as much contact as possible? Take a look around your home to assess, and then take a look at the tips below. Ahead, how to prepare your most trafficked room for a night of careful entertaining.
Turn Your Backyard Into the Living Room
The pandemic has changed lots of components of the entertaining process—including where the entertaining actually happens. If you're planning on hosting people outside of your immediate circle, an outdoor celebration is a better choice for the health and safety of all. That doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice the comforts of your interior to host outside, though. Get creative: Bring out the living room area rug and your furniture (throw pillows and all), too, and set up shop in the open air; place distanced fold-up chairs around this main vignette for added seating. Turn the deck into the bar area and prepare meals in individual boxes for extra touches.
Declutter Your Space
And if you are preparing your living room for a small, just-family party? Remove anything that isn't integral to your celebration; it's an instant way to create more room, which some guests might want even if they are a close relative. The pile of magazines, those toys, the basket of knitting—store them in a room that no one will enter, like your bedroom. If your living room has doors that open onto the deck or patio, keep them ajar during the warmer months; this expands the space you do have and is better for air circulation (a must during the pandemic).
Repurpose Furniture as Food Stations
For cocktail parties, use your dining table to display the food (which has ideally been individually portioned!), says Jason Mitchell Kahn, a New York City event planner. In addition, "clear off any surfaces, such as a desk or low-height bookshelf, that can be used for food and drink purposes." To make sure guests understand they can utilize them, set out cocktail napkins or single-serving snacks on the tabletops. Place trays on ottomans to use as flat surfaces for food and drinks, too.
Create More Seating
Remove the dining-room chairs and repurpose them in distanced groups of two, which is great for conversation. Looking to create additional seating? Use lightweight, mobile seating pieces, like poufs or floor pillows, that are easy to move around. These mobile seating options also allow guests to establish their own closeness levels, leading to a more comfortable experience for all.
Add Better Lighting
"Lighting is everything" when it comes to setting your party's mood, notes Kahn. "If you don't already have your system on dimmers, you can purchase the plug-in types for every lamp." If your overhead lighting does not dim, keep it off, and bring in additional lamps and tons of candles. But be cautious about the types of candles you use and where you place them. "By keeping candles in glass votives or hurricanes, you can avoid spilled wax or the risk of anyone accidentally catching their clothes on fire." Since scented candles compete with food aromas, don't put any on food tables.
Make the Bar Accessible
Two sawhorses, an old table, and a pretty tablecloth are all you need to create a bar that is portable and can be put in a spot that's easy for guests to reach. Avoid a traffic jam by placing the bar far from the entrance; better yet, set out individual drinks to encourage as little contact as possible (no punch bowls!).
Free Up Space in the Coat Closet
Unless you're hosting an event in the summertime, guests will have coats and jackets that need to be stored away. The closet nearest the front door is ideal, so move out enough of your coats to temporarily fit theirs. Extra points for having matching hangers—preferably wood.