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In theory, we’re all about entertaining. That is, until the dreaded party management begins. Who wants to clean up after guests? Spend countless hours making arrangements for their arrival? Rush through the day of the event to the point where the event is over and you don’t even recall attending? No one, that’s who.

But before you go bolt-locking your front door, just think for a moment that “unforgettable” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “complicated.” People entertain because it’s fun, so evidently there must be a way to make the process hassle-free. To put things in perspective, start by figuring out what your expectations are when you go to somebody else’s get-together.

Guests will always have the same needs: hunger, thirst and the desire to have a good time. If you have a working bathroom and simple snacks and beverages ready to go, it leaves you free to focus on the actual entertaining aspect of the event. In fact, successful entertaining has everything to do with being able to preemptively avoid complications.

  1. Make meals ahead of time. Don’t stress over food! Food is simple. Even if all of your plans fail seconds before your guests arrive, there is always pizza. Now, if you’d rather host a party that features your culinary skills, then do a quick search for make-ahead meals. Everything from appetizers to desserts can be made weeks in advance. For instance, prepare an almost-ready-to-go dessert and pop it in the freezer. By the time your guests arrive, all you have to do is throw it in the oven.
  2. Prepare for the worst. Things will always go wrong. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be fixed immediately. Your toilet might get clogged, wine might spill, dishes might break. For this reason, be sure to have backup dishes, keep a plunger around and be proactive about the wine stains. If you think about it, odds are you already have all the means to deal with such crises.
  3. Have an action plan. You don’t have to do it all on your own. Your guests can be relied on for bringing wine, dessert, helping you set the table, setting up the audio system, bringing a movie, etc.
  4. Enjoy yourself: After the first 15 minutes when you’re welcoming your guests and making them feel at home, you should then proceed to get comfortable as well. Kick back, relax and start enjoying your company. After all, you didn’t invite over friends to have a meltdown.