6 Last-Minute Things to Do Before Having Guests Over, Experts Say

They'll remember these thoughtful details long after they're gone.

Inviting guests over—either for a party or for a stay in your spare bedroom—is an exciting experience. You get to welcome them into your home, decorate to your heart's content, and offer all your favorite foods, drinks, and desserts. However, playing host can also be somewhat stressful. Obviously, you want all of your invitees to feel comfortable and relaxed—and accomplishing can sometimes feel daunting. That is, until now. Here party planners, interior designers, and cleaning experts tell us the last-minute things they always do before guests arrive. Follow their lead and your next gathering will go off without a hitch.

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Freshen up the powder room.

New Africa/Shutterstock

The powder room or guest bathroom is a place all of your guests will likely visit at least once. Because of that, you'll want it in tip-top shape. In addition to scrubbing it from top to bottom, you should ensure it's ready for heavy foot traffic. "Our tip is to have extra linen hand towels ready to swap out throughout your event," says Elizabeth Copeland, founder of Houston-based event planning company Swift + Company. "Hostesses sometimes forget to refresh this simple amenity and are left with a soaked hand towel at the end of the night." A swap or two during the party could make all the difference. This tip also applies to leaving extra toilet paper in a place where guests will easily be able to spot it.

If your guests are staying overnight, you can make a toiletry station to welcome them. "I stock this with things like bobby pins, hair ties, dry shampoo, face mist, essential oils, body spray, and anything else that gives someone that hotel amenities feel," says Hannah Michelle Lambert, interior designer and blogger at Homey Homies. Those little touches are the things visitors will remember most.

Set the A.C. to 67 degrees.

air conditioning help the earth
Kwangmoozaa / Shutterstock

There's nothing worse than being at an event that feels stiflingly hot. Help your guests avoid that by setting the A.C. to about 67 degrees an hour or two before the party, suggests Copeland. "More bodies in a home make it warmer," she explains. "Dropping the temperature will make sure your home stays at a pleasant temperature throughout your soirée." Yes, this might even mean turning on your A.C. in the winter if needed.

Make it smell amazing.

candles in glass jars

You can do this in a variety of ways. If you're feeling crafty, Copeland recommends a simmer pot. Simply put your ingredients in a pot of water on low heat and your space will be filled with a cozy aroma. In the warmer months, she likes to use lime, ginger, mint, and cucumber. In the colder months, try apple cider with cinnamon sticks, almond extract, fresh ginger cloves, and orange rinds, or pine branches, juniper berries, and lemon peel.

If simmer pots aren't your thing, a candle works just as well. Copeland likes NEST New York's Bamboo candle for warmer months and Jo Malone's Orange Blossom for cooler months. "We like to blow the candle out about 10 minutes before guests arrive to leave the smell lingering for an effortless scent," she says.

Do a final sweep.

man vacuuming carpet and adjusting height of attachment, vacuuming tips
Shutterstock/New Africa

If you're having a big party, you've probably spent days sprucing up your space. But just before guests arrive, focus on the big picture. "Go through each room that your guests will visit and stare for a few seconds," says Steve Evans, owner of Memphis Maids, a house cleaning service in Tennessee. "Try to concentrate only on what you are seeing and what stands out visually as out of place, and not what you 'know' is dirty or unorganized but that no one else will see or pay attention to." Take these last few minutes to fix those spaces.

In addition to those problem spots, Evans suggest focusing on large, flat surfaces, such as floors, countertops, tables, and desktops. "For floors, vacuuming and/or mopping with a steam mop would be really helpful because the tool is doing the cleaning while you just need to go through the entire floor a few times," he says. "If you're on a very tight time schedule—regardless if you have guests coming soon or not—this is really helpful." The room will look refreshed in no time.

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Prepare a platter.

people touching charcuterie plate

Whenever inviting anyone to your home, you'll want to offer them something to eat. "Many times, I have guests over for coffee or cocktails, so I'm a big fan of serving small finger foods like tea sandwiches or cakes, or small, bite-sized foods that you can easily load up on a plate and go back for more," says Jen Stark, the founder of Happy DIY Home. Fortunately, compiling these foods doesn't have to be complicated. If you want, you can whip up some hors d'oeuvres in the oven. Or, simply place a few store-bought cheeses, crackers, veggies, and desserts on a platter.

Offer fancy water.

lemon lime water

The easiest way to make a strong impression is with fancy water. "Lemon, basil, and (or) cucumber water is a perfect way to make guests feel welcomed and not have to ask for water, which is something that I find myself doing all the time while visiting people's homes," says Devin Shaffer, lead interior designer at Decorilla Online Interior Design. "Investing in a stylish carafe will make all the difference and will double as a decor element, visually zestful, seasonal, and fresh." Guests will be ready to settle in and relax at your gathering as soon as they take a sip.

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