Pigs in a blanket are in the oven. The latest Now That’s What I Call Music bumps on the stereo. A pack of IPAs chills in the fridge. But once again, no one showed to your casual party! Well, instead of putting yourself through this social disappointment, learn the simple ways to become the host or hostess with the mostess.
We’ve compiled a collection of easy tricks and trends to make your events memorable. Even better, most of them can be a achieved from a trip to the dollar store or by repurposing common products. Transform your party hosting game from an inbox full of “maybes” to a bunch of texts asking “can i bring a friend?”
1. Themed Movie: It’s not strictly for themed parties, though it works just as well. Put on an old film that matches the occasion of the event. It gives unacquainted guests a launchpad for conversations that you can’t quite achieve with a curated playlist.
2. Stovetop Potpourri: Save the candles for the duration of the party. To get your home smelling Martha Stewart-level incredible, simmer a pot of your favorite aromatics. Apples and cinnamon are a popular fail safe.
3. Creative Ice: You’ve gushed over fruit-infused water or delicate frozen floral cubes. Get ready for the multifunctional brilliance that is the water balloon cooler. Fill your balloons and freeze ’em for a splash of unexpected color. When they melt, that’s when the water war begins.
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4. Streak Free Surfaces: For goodness sakes, clean that toothpaste off your mirrors! Then, for your windows, simply use water and balled up newspapers for the perfect cleaning. The dense fibers of the materials eliminate streaks. Plus, it’s totally eco-friendly.
5. Upcycle Wine Bottles: Who knew a recycling bin holds all the tools to make cute party decor? Remove the label and adhesive from an empty wine bottle, and you’ve got a timeless vase. Give it that little extra pizzazz with paint, sequins, or a rustic twine bow.
6. Can Lanterns: Twinkle lights are played out. Meet their replacement, the aluminum can. Wash off the adhesive, and mark the desired design with a sharpie. Power drill holes into the can to control how much light you want to escape, then pop it over a candle.
7. Set Table Last: If it’s an outdoor party, be sure to make your final task setting up the tables. Otherwise, pollen or other uninvited guests from nature can end up on the surfaces where we put our food. Keep your event (and your teeth) bug-free.
8. Bar Cart: If Don Draper taught us anything, it’s that everyone loves a bar cart. All events seem elevated with the background noise of clinking decanters getting wheeled across the room. Not to mention it’s a visual signal that your guests are encouraged to drink.
9. Bamboo Dishware: Compiling all the odds and ends of a party can give you an eco-conscious guilt complex. Forego unnecessary waste while still saving yourself unneccesary dishwashing by using bamboo cutlery and dishes. They are recyclable and higher quality.
10. Washi Tape Everything: If you aren’t familiar with washi tape, please, let happiness in. It’s masking tape that comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and it’s easy to remove. You can decorate items by wrapping them in washi.
11. DIY Speaker: To keep that mood music at an audible volume without shelling out big bucks on a new electronic device, head to the bathroom. A toilet paper roll makes an excellent sound amplifier. Cover the outside with washi tape or fabric to conceal its, ahem, alternative purpose.
12. Rehab Your Tea Towels: Plain white towels are fine. To be a cut above fine, move into “wow look at those” territory. Using a cookie cutter, potato, and paint, you can design your own patterns and prints on tired cloths.
13. Natural Lighting: When the drinks are flowing, music’s bumping, and people are mingling, the worst possible mood breaker is flipping on a fluorescent light. Tea light candles are flattering, inexpensive solutions. Wrap them in washi tape for an added decorative touch.
14. Table Setting: The challenge of table setting triggers a specific kind of dread. No longer do the secrets of proper table etiquette belong to the finishing school crowd. Work your way inward, salad fork on the outside. If the pressure gets to you, copy any online guide.
15. Cutlery Holder: Casual, buffet-style parties deserve flair, too. Incorporate an extra decoration in an area all eyes will have to find — the cutlery jar. Mason jars are easily transformed, and not as costly as purchasing a premade vase, while still a step above the red solo cup.
16. Cloth Napkins: This one’s a given. No one can resist the fanciness of a cloth napkin, and in most cases, they’re expected. Level up your linens with some customizations. By adding acrylic paint (or nail polish) to shaving cream, you can create a swirled doily fit for any fancy lap.
17. Custom Citronella Candles: Mingling is impossible with a mosquito buzzing in your ears. Citronella candles at an outdoor party make a massive difference. Try and tackle a DIY, because many stores carry citronella scented as opposed to the real deal.
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18. Fruit Place Cards: The trappings of a magazine-quality tablescape are simple to recreate. Instead of average cards, go a step further by attaching place cards to pieces of fruit. Guests can snack on the fruit to hold them over until dinner is served.
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19. Free Up Hooks: A coat-filled guest bedroom can be a grim scene that’s nearly impossible to navigate. Help your tipsy guests leave with their rightful belongings. Free up extra hook space for coats and bags, or pick up another set of command hooks.
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20. Toilet Paper Cover: There’s no panic like the “I can’t find the toilet paper in this unfamiliar bathroom” panic. An easy way to make sure people see those squares requires a bit of tissue paper and an open mind. Wrap your extra roll and leave it on the counter.
It’s the little things that guests notice. Your house will be the designated party pad for all future friend functions. Luckily, there are ways to cut corners when it comes to cleaning like a hospitality pro, without the expense of the cleaners.
1. Use Bar Keepers Friend to clean glass shower doors and mirrors in your bathroom: Capable of cutting through the grime from a bar top, this stuff easily tackles trick soap scum.
2. Use a lint roller to pull off dust and other gunk from screens: There’s really nothing more tedious and annoying than trying to pick out dust from a window or door screen. So why not make it easy? Simply use an adhesive lint roller. (You’re welcome.)
3. Use mineral oil and a cloth to clean grease from your oven and other appliances: It can be difficult to scrub grime from your oven and oven hood, but luckily for you, mineral oil and a cloth will have it spotless in no time.
4. Use a microfiber mop and some all-purpose cleaner to avoid streaking your floor: If you’ve ever wondered why your mop typically leaves streaks when cleaning, it’s likely because of your cleaner. To remedy the issue, try using a little bit of all-purpose cleaner.
5. Use an old pillow case to properly dust ceiling fans in your home: Not only is this much more efficient than using a traditional duster, but the dust will also be trapped inside instead of floating down onto the ground.
6. Use Bar Keepers Friend and a scrubby pad to make burn spots vanish from your pots and pans: Just be sure that you’re only using this multipurpose product on cast iron and stainless steel pans; it will completely ruin non-stick.
7. Rid your shower of mildew by using isopropyl alcohol bleach and a scrub brush: This combo—plus a little elbow grease—will nix that stinky, slimy mildew in no time. Just be sure to wear protective gloves!
8. Rub your shower curtain rod with a sheet of wax paper to help your curtain glide better: If you step into the shower and notice your shower curtain fails to slide open, worry not. This simple fix will have it opening and closing with ease.
9. Use cream of tartar to clean your Keurig machine: Anyone who uses their Keurig on a regular basis knows about the grime build-up at the top. By mixing cream of tartar with water and giving the machine a scrub, you’ll wash all that muck away!
10. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, vinegar, and Dawn dish soap to clean excess grime from your bathtub and shower walls: Coat the entire bathtub and walls in this solution. After 15 minutes, simply scrub it away with your magic eraser.
11. Don’t forget to wash your sink once you’ve finished your dishes: Your kitchen sink can be about as germ-filled as a public toilet, so be sure to clean it once you’re done with your dishes. Best of all, it only takes a little soap and hot water!
12. Use mold-killing primer to nix unsightly and dangerous mold in your home: It’s recommended that homeowners use rubbing alcohol before anything else, but if that doesn’t work, try switching to this product to finish the job.
13. Clean chrome faucets with a sheet of wax paper: Not only does this hack remove tough water spots on your faucets, but it simultaneously gives them a brand new sheen in the process. It’ll look like you got all new fixings every time you clean.
14. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to wipe grime from your oven: It’s pretty easy to just leave that hard-to-remove grime in your oven and continue baking. But with a magic eraser and some elbow grease, getting rid of it won’t be such a daunting task.
15. Rid your bathtub of built-up soap scum by using a sponge and Whink rust remover: Are you embarrassed by the hard water stains on the bottom of your bathtub? This powerful cleaning agent will get rid of the unsightly spots in no time.
16. Remove crayon marks from your walls with Windex and a dishcloth: If your children have been drawing all over your walls, a little Windex, a fresh dishcloth, and all the elbow grease you can muster can make it disappear—until they draw on them again, that is!
17. Clean an electric kettle using water and vinegar: First, you’ll want to bring the solution to a boil. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then pour out the solution and rinse thoroughly. Now you’re ready to make all the tea your heart desires!
18. Fill your toilet brush holder with Pine-Sol to keep it smelling fresh: Many people don’t realize, but one reason their bathroom seems to perpetually stink is because the toilet brush is dirty. It’s quite an easy fix, so long as you have some Pine-Sol!
19. Use hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and a scrubby pad to clean grime off the surface of your porcelain sink: Get rid of that unsightly scum in your bathroom sink with this easy cleaning method. It’s cheap and super easy to pull off.
20. Make a large batch of your own all-purpose cleaner by putting concentrated cleanser, like Simple Green, in a reusable spray bottle: Once you learn this easy way to make your own cleaner, you’ll never have to spend money on it again!