Laurey W. Glenn

Not only will you impress your guests—you’ll also make things easier on yourself.

If we Southerners are going to rest on our laurels of being famously hospitable, we owe it to our guests to be ready to jump into the role of hostess at a moment’s notice. Whether you’ve been hosting friends and family for decades or are in charge of your first big gathering this year, making sure you have the right tools and products to confidently entertain is crucial. All you should have to worry about is what food you’re going to make (and with so many great recipes readily available, even that shouldn’t be too hard). If you have these 7 products in your arsenal, you’ll not only impress your guests, but you’ll also make things easier on yourself.

A Large Serving Platter

Even if you happened to inherit grandma’s silver trays (and if you did, lucky you. Use them!), it’s good to have one or two extra serving platters that aren’t as formal. White porcelain can easily be dressed up or down, but no matter what, it’ll dress your food up and make a great presentation.

A Variety of Glassware

Even if you’re not a big wine drinker, you ought to have a set of 6 or 8 matching wine glasses if you ever anticipate serving it. Same goes for beer-appropriate glasses, and those for water, iced tea, and punch. Don’t want to invest in anything too fancy? Hit up T.J. Maxx for discounted glassware that won’t make you nervous for people to use.

A Cheese Board

Even the smallest and most casual of gatherings likely involve a small appetizer and probably: cheese. A wooden cutting board will do the trick, but there are so many pretty cutting boards out there—ones with marble portions, intricate wooden accents, and more. And to really complete the presentation, you should add to your list...

Cheese Knives

A regular ole steak knife is really not going to cut that brie very well. Invest in a small set of cheese knives that work for a variety of cheese types.

A Set of Linen Napkins

For day-to-day use, cloth napkins might feel like just an extra item piling up in the laundry basket, but if you love to host dinner parties, your guests deserve something a bit nicer than a paper towel or napkin. Want to really impress them? Get a cheap set monogrammed. 

WATCH: Things Only a Southern Hostess Would Do

Water Pitcher

If you have a bottle of wine on the table, or nearby, it makes sense to keep a pitcher of water around as well. For both your sake and your guests’, don’t create a situation where they have to go sneaking into the kitchen to use the sink or water filter in your refrigerator door. Which brings us to...

An Ice Bucket

There’s nothing more mood-killing than the grinding sound of a refrigerator door ice machine that’s clearly been overworked. A good ice bucket will always find a use at any gathering, whether you’re stocking the bar or chilling wine on the dinner table.