Consider whether you have enough time and skills to prepare the food yourself, or whether you should order some or all from a caterer.

• Decide what you are going to serve well in advance and make a shopping list.
• Iron the tablecloths in advance.
• Choose what tableware and serving dishes you are going to use and make sure they are clean. Polish any silverware.
• Prepare pastries in advance. You can put many pastries in the freezer without any ill effects. Defrost the pastries in the refrigerator and warm them up, if necessary.
• Make sure you have enough hangers, vases, rubbish bags and hand towels. Find a place for your guestbook as well as any gifts.
• Reserve enough time for the preparations. Tired and irritated hosts will not be able to entertain their guests.