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1 Collect pre-ordered food
If you have work the first half of the day, get your helper or a family member to collect a few items for you in the morning and you’ll take care of the rest after work.

2 Decorate dining area and set table
Gather all the items you need for the table setting, and delegate someone to do the table arrangments while you’re out running erangs or at your grooming appointments.

3 Go for hair or nail appointments
Be punctual – it’s better to wait, than be late and lose our booking. Factor in an extra half-hour, at least, as a buffer for delays.

4 Air or scent your home
Burn some essential oils or spray a pine-scented air freshener half an hour before your guests are expected.

5 Pep talk with children
If you have young kids, it is essential to remind them about good manners and gracious behaviour before the guests arrive or when they leave a party.

This article was originally published in Simply Her December 2008.