a checklist for the hostess

A Hostess Checklist: How I Get Our Home Ready for Entertaining

I love to host and this is hosting season! Sharing my personal hostess checklist from a few days out to the day of on how I prepare every room in my house so I don’t forget a detail when it’s time to host a party or dinner.

a checklist for the hostess

H
oliday hosting is upon us and if you are planning on hosting, way to go you! I know your friends are appreciative of hostesses and the work put into it. I have a saved list of things I do on a Word document as a checklist I print out before every party to make sure I’m checking everything off my list!

I’m sharing it with you in a blog post!

Another thing I want to stress is being a calm, happy, gracious host when guests arrive. Often we can feel frazzled or kind of have this attitude of wow this is so much work and I’m kind of overwhelmed but if your guests feel that tension or stress it makes them feel less welcome. So no matter what is happening, just be happy they showed up and are taking the time to show up! Time is so precious and being together is such a gift.

Let me know if you have other ideas or thing you do before your guests arrive.

If you’re a shoes off home (I keep shoes on if it’s a big party like the shoes go with the outfit), then offer guests slippers – Amazon has some disposable ones like hotel slippers or cozy socks from TJ Maxx. I like them to go with my decor so either white, gray or blue.


WEEKS/DAYS BEFORE

  • Plan menu, check with guests for any allergies or food intolerances.
    • It is your job as an excellent caring host to accommodate with additional options if someone cannot eat gluten or has allergies. You don’t have to accommodate the entire meal but that there are alternative sides or choices.
  • Book window cleaners
  • Buy ice

NIGHT BEFORE

  • Set out big platters/serving dishes with Post-its in the bowls or platters for specific food
  • Set the table
  • Dust and clean off patio furniture
  • Arrange fresh flowers in bud vase or put new orchids around the home (like the powder room)

MORNING OF

  • Blow off or sweep leaves by the front door
  • Clean the glass, in the door, and the front light
  • Take out all trash in house
  • Light candles (unscented by food, scented in other rooms)
  • Clean microwave
  • Fill water pitcher or water put in fridge to chill, cover with Saran Wrap
  • Take photos for blog or IG stories (if applicable)
  • New toilet paper roll in guest bath
  • Arrange florals for tablescape

1 HOUR BEFORE

  • Play music on entertaining rooms Google or play TV
  • Start slideshow or program on TV (Easter, I mute an Easter cartoon for the kids in the room they will be in). Or Christmas, old Christmas movie in black and white or the Fireplace on Netflix.
  • Turn on string light in backyard
    • Dim indoor lighting
    • Turn on string lights or battery lights on mantel
    • Turn on battery operated candles in all rooms
  • Fluff pillows
  • Spray counters and linens with spray – this is my favorite
  • Check sink and toilet is clean
  • Replenish disposable cloth and new hand towel, soaps
  • Light candle in kitchen
  • Turn on oven warmer for food
  • Spray room spray in rooms (laundry room too)
  • Open windows and skylights
  • Place “Please do come in sign” on front door
  • Ice drinks
  • Turn down temperature

15 MINS BEFORE

  • Light candle in dining room
  • Plate food or put in warmer
  • Fill water glasses
  • Restart playlist on Spotify (my early 2000s playlist, acoustic hits, chilled instrumental)
  • Google Home – play on specific room
  • Turn on TV (if that type of party you want guests to gather there too): photo slideshow, themed movie on mute.
  • Light fireplace (not for warmth but for ambiance, if it gets too warm crack a window)
  • Light a candle in powder room and throughout the house
  • Bathroom, slightly cracked or closed

AFTER THE PARTY

  • Lysol spray surfaces, couches, and doorknobs
  • Refluff pillows
  • Take out trash
  • Start the dishwasher before bed, or wait for morning!

the hostess party checklist

DOWNLOAD PDF VERSION

ADDITIONAL TIPS

  • Use a place card or seating card to tell guests to be seated. Usually if it’s under 6, no need for seating. Some debate if 6 even needs it, but I like to have them!
  • Keep a scented candle burning in the powder bath or make sure there’s a spray so guests feel comfortable.
  • Disposable powder room towels is encouraged! Use a towel tray like this.

If you want the PDF version of this list, click here.

Like these tips? I share more on Instagram. Follow me on Instagram! @dianaelizabeth_

Photos by Kate Nelle, Makeup and hair by Lizzy Marsh


Diana Elizabeth is hosting three things in December which is less than the 4 in 2020, but her parents are coming out for the holidays soon so that kind of counts too! 

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in her garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party.

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