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10 expert-approved dinner party hosting essentials every good host needs on hand

According to the pros, these 10 dinner party hosting essentials are non-negotiable.

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You don't have to be Ina Garten or Martha Stewart in order to earn the title of the best dinner party host in your friend group. Of course, good food and drinks are a vital part of a great night in, but the secret to being a great host all comes down to proper preparation and forethought.

In fact, as long as you're willing to look beyond the obvious and anticipate the needs of your guests, then every cocktail night or dinner party will go off without a hitch. Hosting an incredible dinner party doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant either. It really comes down to little details—like ample bathroom essentials and non-alcoholic options—that will instantly make guests feel comfortable and at home.

Are you celebrating a dinner party or at-home cocktail night? We spoke to a handful of experts to get their insights on what you'll want to have on hand to ensure your guests have an unforgettable evening in your home.

1. An abundance of drink staples

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

Whether you're providing booze at your dinner party or not, there are some key alcohol accessories you should always have stocked up for your guests to help the night flow.

"Pick up some tonic water for mixer then grab some citrus fruit to add some zesty freshness," suggests Aysegul Sanford, food blogger and owner of Foolproof Living. "Don't forget to pick up more ice than you ever expect to need and maybe some mint if you're in the mood! These affordable ingredients will take your dinner party to the next level without much additional effort."

2. A smart speaker for keeping the party going

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

"​​When hosting a dinner party, my top tip is to invest in a smart speaker like an Alexa or Google Assistant," says Andre Kazimierski, CEO, Improovy Painters St Louis. "These devices make it easy to entertain guests and provide background music while also keeping track of timers for food preparation. Especially if you're hosting solo, they can really take the edge off some of the associated stress."

Music sets the mood of any event---but before you host, Andra DelMonico, lead interior designer at Trendey, suggests creating a couple of playlists that each have a particular mood or theme in mind. "Perhaps you have one that's relaxed, smooth jazz and another that's more upbeat summertime hits. There could be the classic playlist full of throwbacks or the perennial holiday mix. Having these prepped and ready to go makes it easy to set it and forget it," she explains.

3. Name tags and extra place cards

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

"Something I always recommend having on hand for dinner parties are name tags, especially when hosting people who might not otherwise know each other," shares Grace Baena, director of Kaiyo. "This is also a great and inclusive way to introduce new significant others or friends to a group! Having name tags available means avoiding potentially awkward introductions or making anyone feel singled out."

Should you be planning to set out name cards to direct guests to a specific seat it'll also be worth considering having a handful of additional blank place cards on hand. This will ensure you're always ready to pivot and make room for guests that might RSVP last minute or friends who show up with an unexpected plus one.

4. Extra wine bottle stoppers

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

According to celebrations and organization expert Stefan Bucur, keeping extra wine bottle stoppers on hand is not just practical---it's economical. "The right wine bottle stoppers will help keep any beverage clean and fresh," he explains. "This way you can open multiple wine bottles without having to worry about drinking all of [them]."

5. Emergency stain removing pens

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

"As an avid chef, I love to host events and dinner parties at my home to share my passion with those that I love most---and I have discovered one must have to hand whenever I have guests. It's not something to eat or drink, and it is not even fancy cookware to impress your guests, but rather it is a handy stain remover pen," says Christina Russo, creative director at The Kitchen Community.

According to Russo, at every single party she hosts, there is an incident where a guest makes a spillage and then looks stricken, thinking they have ruined a table cloth, a favorite cushion, or a shirt. "Thankfully, with a little oxidative bleach on hand, I can quickly reassure them no lasting harm has been done, and no one goes through the rest of the night feeling guilty and embarrassed."

6. Extra toilet paper and bathroom essentials

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

DelMonico suggests placing an extra roll of toilet paper in your bathroom if you expect to have a large number of people in your home. "This small gesture can prevent someone from having an embarrassing moment," she explains.

Corey Ashton Walters, founder and CEO of Here, also suggests adding bathroom accessories that guests can use throughout the night for a more comfortable experience. "A well-stocked bathroom might not be the first thing you think of, but it's necessary when hosting," Walters explains. "While guests could either be coming from a block away or a 30-minute subway ride, the option to freshen up will be appreciated amongst the guests."

Walters suggests stocking up with hand soap, sanitizer, and some mints, for example, for the ultimate hosting experience. "It's important for visitors to feel at home, and a positive bathroom experience will do just that."

7. Cute finger napkins

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

There's nothing worse than avoiding the snack table due to a lack of plates or finger napkins. DelMonico suggests arranging finger napkins specifically around the space where you are entertaining so guests don't have to look around or ask where they are. Finger napkins also come in handy for everything from wiping your hands to absorbing condensation on a glass.

8. A doorstop for creating the right flow

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

"If you plan to entertain people in more than one room, a doorstop is essential for keeping the traffic pathways open," explains DelMonico. "Not only does this create a more welcoming space, but it prevents people from opening the door on others and bumping into them."

9. Extra snacks and small treats

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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

According to Melissa Collins, food scientist and chef, if you are hosting your friends and family for dinner, it's best to have dried fruits and nuts---like almonds and cashews---on hand to snack on. They serve as a great munching option for the guests to enjoy before the food is served and you simply create an assorted dish of dried fruits and place it on the center table for guests to graze on throughout the evening.

10. Fun pre-made non-alcoholic beverages

box of green and white cans
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Expert-approved dinner party essentials.

Another item you must have on hand while hosting a dinner party is bottled or canned non-alcoholic beverages. "You may have wine bottles, but not everyone wants to have some. So, it's best to purchase non-alcoholic beverages in bulk and store them for unexpected requests," explains Collins. "This way, you will have something to serve to all your guests."

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