The best gatherings aren’t always the most extravagant ones; they’re often the ones that don’t stress you out too much, allow you to really interact with your guests, and don’t even cost much. Walk into the best cheese shops here in Wisconsin, and you’ll already find the inspiration for the kind of food you’re going to serve; it’s not that complicated.

To help you ensure the success of your small home gathering, here are some easy tips to follow:

1. Plan Well Ahead of Time

It may be a small gathering of friends and family, but that doesn’t mean you can skip the advanced planning. It’s a good idea to take out a notebook and a pen for this, so you don’t forget anything. You’ve already got your venue – your home – but you may have to decide on which area around your property that you’d like to use for the gathering.

A back porch and a yard are a good idea. Will you need a tent, extra lighting, a music source, etc.? What kind of wines go well with that artisanal cheese? Logistics should be the first order of business.

2. Set a budget

It’s going to be a small gathering so it shouldn’t cost as much as a wedding in the most luxurious venue in town. While it’s easy to assume you won’t be spending much, it’s still a good idea to set a budget and stick to it. Planning should help you avoid unnecessary or surprise expenses.

3. Set a Date and Time for Shopping

You might be tempted to simply drive by the nearest convenience store on your way home after work, but that might also be one way to miss a few things. It’s best to set a specific time and date for your shopping, preferably a weekend, so you feel relaxed. Don’t forget to bring your complete list.

4. Pick Your Guests

Friends and family preparing lunch for gathering

You may already have people in mind. Write their names on your notebook. Think about everyone else you might be missing. It’s important to remember that you are planning a small gathering, so don’t be afraid to cross out the names of those you don’t really intend to invite.

Don’t forget that you’re on a budget and your venue has its limits too.

5. Invite People at Least a Week Before

This is why you should plan ahead, so you can also invite people ahead of time. A week is enough time for them to make up their minds. You can do this even through social media if you don’t have an opportunity to meet them in person.

You can also call them if you’re uncomfortable just sending them an online invite. Then remind them again two days before the gathering. This time, do your best to speak with them over the phone or in person. By that time, they can already confirm whether they’re coming or not.

Being a host shouldn’t be that difficult, particularly if you’re only inviting people over for a small get-together. Plan the work and work the plan, and your little home shindig should go well.