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6 Items You Should Always Have in Your Dining Room When Guests Come Over

You don't want to be caught without this piece of furniture, experts say.

Whether you're hosting a dinner party or a simple gathering, you'll want your dining room to be in top condition. While many consider the kitchen the heart of the home, the dining room is where people sit, mingle, eat, and linger. On the day of your gathering, you should clean the space and ensure it's well-stocked with everything your guests might need. Not sure what those things are? Here, we tapped hosting experts to learn the key items you need in your dining room before guests come over. From food and entertainment to serving supplies and decor, these things guarantee a great event.

READ THIS NEXT: The 6 Best Things to Ask Guests to Bring—If They Offer.

A Game


Even if you never use this item during your gathering, you'll want to have it on hand.

"You're simply never too old for some games, and when you invite unfamiliar guests, it's the best possible icebreaker," says  Xanthe Steer, food writer at Foolproof Living. "Keep it simple with something that's social and doesn't require too much explaining."

Your "game" could be as easy as a pen and paper for charades or a guessing game or trivia game on your phone.

"It offers a simple way to get everyone acquainted until the drinks start flowing," says Steer.

Extra Seating

woman pulling chair out from table

If you're hosting guests in your dining room, then you need a place for everyone to sit—even if you don't plan on serving a sit-down meal.

"If you're short on chairs, consider using benches or ottomans that can double as seating," says Cristy Stewart-Harfmann, founder of Happy Family Blog.

To account for any unexpected plus ones, have a few extra seats on hand. You can keep them in another room until the need for them arises.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Items You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen When Guests Come Over.

A Table Runner

winter table running with dinner set

It doesn't take full place settings to create a polished dining table.

"You might not have time to fish out the good china; however, draping a simple table runner down will give your dining room a put-together look with very little effort," says Steer. "It really takes your table from day to night and adds an accent to plain crockery."

If you don't have a runner, you can make a substitute with a scarf, wrapping paper, or a piece of scrap cloth.

A Cylindrical Vase

pink flowers in glass vase
Shutterstock/Africa Studio

Keeping a cylindrical vase in your dining room is the simplest way to guarantee you always have a centerpiece.

"You can fill them with ornaments or pine cones, and you've got an instant holiday centerpiece; walnuts and fall leaves and it's Thanksgiving; water, a floating candle plus a bloom and you've got a universal centerpiece; ditch the water and the bloom, add a pillar candle, and you've got great light, buffet decor, or even light for a dim pathway," says Marley Majcher, CEO of The Party Goddess.

We're excited just thinking about the endless options!

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A Cheese Board

Cheese plate with different arts of cheese grape and nuts served on wooden board.
nerudol / Shutterstock

Of course, you'll want to have snacks for your guests to nosh on, and a cheese board is universally well-loved.

"It's an accessible food item that requires minimal preparation yet can still impress your guests—you can include a variety of cheeses, such as cheddar, brie, and gouda, along with some crackers, nuts, and dried fruits," says Stewart-Harfmann.

If your guests have any dietary restrictions or preferences, make sure to take those into consideration.

In addition to keeping them satiated, the board also creates a makeshift centerpiece.

"You can arrange the cheeses and accompaniments in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and adds to the room's overall ambiance," adds Stewart-Harfmann.

Serving Supplies

Female hands pouring water from the decanter into a glass beaker with lemon and ice.
Andrii Zorii/iStock

Finally, you'll need to ensure you have all your serving essentials ready. Greg Jenkins, event and party planner at Bravo Productions, suggests classic white dishes since they go with everything.

"If you enjoy entertaining, consider adding a caterer's boxed set of extra dishes that can easily be pulled out at a moment's notice," he says. "A set of nice glassware and carafes are also essential."

Cocktail napkins and cloth napkins are also necessary, as are a good wine opener and an ice bucket with tongs. With those supplies, you'll be able to cater to every guest's needs.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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