I'm a lady and so are you. . . .

Ahh, back to the dinner party. . . .

It's here, the night of the event. What do you need to think about? Perhaps it's just me, but I walk through my house, considering each of the rooms, and then I walk through the sequence of the evening, and contemplate what I might need at each step. Here's the highlights.

The House
1. Is it clean? No really, I'm serious. Not sparkling, not eat off the floor, but it should look neat. Yes, it's perfectly permissible to pile everything in your master bedroom, and close the door. I will point out, from sad experience, at the end of the night, when you are completely exhausted, you are going to have to move all of that stuff. Struggling to deal with this, I'd take a look at this lady. I'm a fan.

2. The kitchen - look dear readers, here's my take on it. If you have an open plan house, your kitchen better look clean. Obviously there is food prep going on. But honestly, I have been seriously turned off by more than 1 12 foot high pile of dishes in the sink, and a garbage can overflowing.

3. The front entrance and hall - want to know a secret? Clean this really well, and tidy up the rest of the house, and your guests will think that you are a Martha wannabe. Seriously, inviting front entrance, people fill in the blanks in the rest of the house. Also, in the front entrance, do you have space for coats and shoes? Clear off the coat rack, clear off the shoe rack, or make your spouse responsible for taking their coats to a (clean!) bedroom.(1)

4. The bathroom. Is it clean? Under the seat too? Have you hidden away anything you might not want other's to see?

Here's the thing. Guests should never open a closed space. Never. And if you happen to see something, out in the open, or in a closed space, that, shall we say, perks your interest, YOU DON'T SAY A WORD. I mean it. Go home and tell your husband. Tell your dog. Under no circumstances do you make comments about medication left on the counter, or pregnancy tests in the waste basket, or what have you. I assure you, if they wanted to discuss it with you, they would have. Having said that, stop this horrible situation by simply looking at your bathroom as a guest would.

Provide soap, a clean hand towel (I don't want to use your possibly used bath towel, I'm picky that way), an extra roll of toilet paper, deodorizing spray, and a garbage can. No really, I can't emphasize the garbage can enough. My mother is a type one diabetic, and there is nothing that horrifies her more than to have to locate her hostess to dispose of her needles (they are safe for garbage disposal) and her testing strips. Put a garbage can in there.

4. If you aren't heading right into dinner - the room you are stuffing your guests in.
Is this room clean? Are there enough seats? Coasters for drinks? If dinner is going to be a bit, do you have some nibblies for your guests? Having nibblies can stave off rioting guests (and I guarantee Uncle Fester is more cheerful with some food in his tummy.)

If you have pets, do you have a plan for them? Any pet might get nervous with multiple people around them. They might cope best if they are in another room.

The Sequence of The Evening:
Have you thought about what is happening, and when? Walk through the evening in your mind, from the guests arriving, to seating everyone, to toasts, serving dinner, dessert, conversation afterward.

Think about each step, and what you will need. Do you have all of your place settings, do you have a place to hang coats. Do you have the centerpiece, and have you taken the buns out of the oven? (2)

Your Homework
Next Column will be on December 31, and it's all about sticky situations with guests.
Your homework is to tell me about a sticky situation(3)

(1) No really, about the clean - at the end of the night, they will want to go and fetch their coat, and you will be too tired to throw yourself bodily across the door to stop. them. from. going. in. there.
(2) Not that I have ever done this and needed a fire extinguisher. Nope, not me.
(3) Because Mrs. Spit has no experience with difficult guests.