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To pull off a successful dinner party, you need to start planning days ahead.
One week out, plan your menu.
Make sure everything you need gets on a grocery list, including cleaning supplies. Get time-saving cleaning supplies, like wipes and scrubbers.
Put cleaning supplies in a special caddy so you can grab them quickly when you need them.
Two or three days out, start cooking dinner.
Make a dessert that will taste even better a couple of days later, like a moist apple cake.
Prep individual ingredients for casseroles and soups so they’ll be ready to stir together on the day of the dinner.
Instead of making bread at the last minute, make bread dough that will wait in the fridge until you're ready to bake it just before guests arrive.
One day out, set the table, everything but the flowers, and cover it with a sheet to protect it from dust.
On dinner party day, prepare salads, whipped cream, drinks, ice, everything you couldn't make ahead.
Tip: Clean as you go; if a dish or pan is in your hand, scrub it and put it away.
Save an hour for last-minute cleanup.