If you've ever broken out in a cold sweat 30 minutes before guests arrive because your home is just off, listen up: These are the genius, last-minute tips pro designers use when they entertain. From how to get guests out of the kitchen to the only table linen color you need to own, they've got the answers.
Along with an outdoor fire pit to keep people warm. "This keeps guests out of the kitchen and in the fresh air enjoying fall weather," says interior designer . Bonus points if an impromptu football game starts up on the lawn.
If you're going to encourage guests to hang outside before dinner, Witt also recommends offering some kind of easy-to-serve stew in teacups or coffee mugs as a starter. Not sure where to begin? Try your hand at this delicious oyster stew.
"I love having a multi-layered Thanksgiving feast, using your finest china and crystal, but having everyone be very casual and comfortable in jeans," says Witt. After all, who says the crystal has to call for uncomfortable suits and ties?
Have a stack of single, mis-matched candle sticks floating around? "Consolidate and group them whether as a focal point in the house or on the dinner table," says interior designer . Or line them up to resemble a random runner down the center of your table.
Nothing's more uninviting than table decor that constructs conversation. That's why Bostelmann says to cut your candles in half, burn them down, or buy shorter ones. "That way guests across from each other aren't trying to look through a forest of candles sticks," he says.
Votives are an easy way to balance your tall candlesticks (even if they're chopped in half). And trust us when we say placing your tiny candle in a hallowed-out white pumpkin will impress guests to no end.
If you ask Witt, the perfect spread includes the following: "A white linen table cloth, your formal china, and crystal." She also recommends putting decorative troughs down the center of the table with fresh greens from your yard.
The more surprising, the better, says interior designer . "I found a vintage rattan elephant side table that had a lid on it, we put a bucket inside and filled it with flowers for a table setting recently," she says. Another simple idea is just a bucket with branches and berries.
Smell plays an important part of the season, which is why Bostelmann says not to underestimate it. "Nothing gets that feeling going quicker than a bowl full of clove pierced oranges," he says. Looking for other ideas? Here's our roundup on how to make your home smell just like a bakery ... no baking necessary.