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5 Clever Designs that Come to the Rescue When a Dinner Party Looms

October 27, 2016

You've sent out the e-mail. You've haggled for a date that works for almost everyone. And now reality sets in. You're hosting a dinner party. Ok, don't freak out. You've totally got this. We're here to help.

The magic word (let's say it together now): Do it in advance! (Oops, magic words.)

You've heard it once, you've heard it twice, you've heard it a thousand times. But yes, prepping ahead of time really is worth it. And not just the food. The little touches around the house that make your guests gasp in amazement at your effortless hosting. And we've corralled 5 of the most helpful designs we have in our Shop to get you ready.

Photo by Alpha Smoot

Silicone Storage Lids

In an infomercial announcer voice: Food storage containers can be such a pain! [Shot of woman opening a cabinet and a mountain of plastic bases and lids cascading out]. Thanks to their amazing ability to suction, our silicone lids will top any kind of vessel and seal it up airtight. These. Babies. Are. Awesome.

So mix up a cookie batter in a ceramic bowl, throw a lid on it. Prep your mise-en-place in a small glass bowl, put a lid on it. Stack your mini quiches in the bottom of a plastic storage container (you lost the top, naturally), put a lid on it. If you can make it ahead, these lids can keep it covered. No Tupperware necessary.

Added bonus features: Deep fry appetizers on demand (though, why would you do that to yourself?) and you can use them as splatter screens. Drape one over your fresh-out-the-oven casserole to keep it warm (because timing is the hardest part). They can even be a makeshift pot lid—they're heat-resistant up to 484 degrees!

Mini Bowls

Here's an easy way to seem like you've got your shit together: little bowls for salt and pepper. Fill these minis with coarse Kosher salt and freshly ground cracked pepper. Your guests will think they're dining at a fancy restaurant. You might overhear them whispering to each other, "Ugh, I wish I was more like Susan*. She thinks of EVERYTHING."

*Name changed for anonymity.

Butter Keeper

There are tricks to soften butter fast, but you've got no time for that once the guests arrive! One day ahead of your shindig, fill the base of the keeper with a bit of water and fill the top with a stick of softened butter.

The water creates an airtight seal so the butter stays fresh, and fluffy-soft. You can serve it right out of the top—with yeasty rolls, absolutely. But why not get a little fancy-pants and try radishes and salt. Trés French.

Bread Bags

You grabbed your bread from the bakery a day early and now you're panicked about it going stale before the big night. One of these linen bags will do the trick—the naturally anti-bacterial linen keeps bread fresher for longer than paper or plastic (those can make crusts soft and damp).

Photo by Bobbi Lin

The lookers belong on your table, too. If you went the fresh baked bread route (good for you!), the bag will keep your loaf warm. Or pass around the bag with a Pain de Campagne inside and have guests rip off a hunk of the crusty goodness (everyone likes audience participation). Or lay it in a basket as an insta-chic liner.

Clear Tissue Case

Above all, don't forget the washroom! It should be a nice spot for guests to retreat to, so make sure it's fully stocked (TP, soap, fresh hand towels, maybe even a candle or two). And tissues, too!

Photo by James Ransom

We've got eyes for this clear acrylic case—transfer the tissues out of the neon flower-printed box they came in and plop 'em in here. It looks good enough to belong in a 5-star hotel (but let's hope your guests don't walk out with any of your toiletries).

You did it! You're ready!

Now you've just got to cook. We've got you covered there, too.

What do you do to get your house ready for guests? Tell us your secrets below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • lighthouse6
  • Pisanella
  • Dee
  • Alix
  • Catherine
Olivia Bloom

Written by: Olivia Bloom

Has a soft spot for string cheese.


lighthouse6 October 30, 2016
This was just one big advertisement - kind of tacky. Nothing helpful as I had hoped on party planning but now I know all about your lids...
Pisanella October 29, 2016
"Here's an easy way to seem like you've got your shit together"

How disappointing; I always thought Food52 a classy website...

Perhaps you could have (should have) used ACT, instead. Less vulgar.
Dee October 29, 2016
Ha! Ok, I like the sock in soup analogy. It really illustrates the way the word struck you when read.
Alix October 28, 2016
Its interesting, isn't it - how a word is different when it appears on screen or page than when it just rolls off the tongue ... I'm left undecided & kinda agreeing with both positions on this one!

Catherine October 28, 2016
Really? You used the sh-t word? And talking about food too. What's up with that?
Dee October 28, 2016
Out of all of that, the one take-away was one word? In fact, I would argue that the phrase has become an idiom and transcends the one word. It is my hope that we can collectively get to a place where positivity and offering encouragement comes as easily as criticism.
Catherine October 28, 2016
I've never seen that word printed in an article of this nature. My sense is it's as out of place as a sock in soup.