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5 Entertaining tips you really can't ignore

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Your guests are scrutinizing your entryway

If you're going to entertain, it's important to do it right. While you may fuss over this detail or that, it's more important to put yourself in your guests' shoes. Prepare your home knowing what your visitors are likely to notice. Impress your guests by paying close attention to these five critical entertaining areas.

A welcoming, organized entryway

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Here is your chance to make a good first impression (and a lasting final impression). Unless you're providing a coat valet service, your entry is where guests drop coats, bags and shoes.

Make it easy for them: Add a hall tree or peg board for coats. An umbrella stand is a nice touch (and saves your floors). A stool or bench gives guests a place to sit while they fuss with their shoes. If you don't have much space, consider keeping all of the coats and bags in an area of the house in which you're not entertaining (like a bedroom or office).

Absence of clutter

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Clutter is funny: Guests notice it when it's there, but they don't give it a thought when it's not. Too much stuff is distracting; guests are more relaxed if they don't have to navigate around your stuff.

Make it easy on yourself: Instead of spending a giant amount of time deep cleaning and sanitizing your home before guests arrive, focus on corralling the clutter. Put away toys, piles of mail and out-of-place items. Only you will know that you didn't vacuum under the couch.

Comfy seating

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Some hosts prefer to provide fewer seats in order to keeps guests moving and mingling. But isn't it better if everyone can kick back and relax in a comfortable spot? If it's interaction that you want, then arrange your seating in conversational groupings, and don't shortchange anyone.

Make it easy for everyone: Keep all of the food and drinks in one area, and all of the seating in another. Guests can help themselves to munchies without getting too comfortable in the kitchen (and without getting in your way as you replenish trays and punch bowls), and then move on to the sitting area to chat with others while they eat.

Ample refreshments

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Speaking of food and drinks... be sure to have enough. Your duty as the host is to feed and entertain. If there isn't enough to eat and drink, your guests will remember.

Make certain: Get a final head count ahead of time. Call those who haven't RSVPd to get an answer. Prepare a bit more than you need, or have everyone bring something "for the good of the party."

A tidy, accessible bathroom

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Guests want to be able to use your bathroom without drawing too much attention to themselves. (And you shouldn't have to be interrupted every time someone has to go.) Point out the bathroom as guests arrive, and… 

Make everyone comfortable: A clean, fresh bathroom is a must. (Check out 10 ways to protect your visitors from bathroom embarrassments.) And check on it occasionally throughout the event to make sure no one has undone your efforts.

More entertaining tips

10 Tips to make entertaining less stressful
Quiz: What kind of hostess are you?
7 Ways to trick your guests into helping you clean up

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