You’ve just finished wiping the spaghetti off the walls and picking up all the dirty dishes that were in the dishwasher until your three-year-old took them all out again, and suddenly, you remember. You’ve got good family friends coming for dinner on Friday night and Mom and Dad arriving Saturday morning to stay for the weekend. There’s no way you can entertain four additional people with the state that you’re kitchen is in – you don’t even have two mugs that match. But where do you even start? The essentials? How do you make it look like your kitchen has been entertainment ready for weeks, months, even years, and you’re the last person people think has children? Here are three must-have kitchen items for entertaining those guests, whether it’s coffee, lunch or dinner, no matter how fussy they turn out to be.

The first must-have kitchen item to have in full supply when entertaining guests, particularly if you’re somebody that enjoys putting on a bit of a show, is linen.

A tablecloth is essential for turning a quickly put-together meal that’s spilled a bit being transported from the kitchen bench to the dining room into a lavish spread that gives the appearance you’ve been slaving away at it all day. The age old dilemma with table linen, however, is the color – do you go big and bold with a color that stands out, or do you rely on the faithful neutral palette, keeping it classy and tasteful? White is almost always one to stay away from, for obvious reasons – those kids will do their best to paint it another color by the end of the meal. Sticking to neutral colors means that it’s guaranteed to go with everything, plus you can dress it up a bit by getting creative with the napkins.

The second must-have kitchen item to keep well-stocked and in good condition – and out of the way of those sticky little hands – is coffee and espresso cups.

When you’ve got your new colleagues coming around for a bit of brunch on the weekend, and you want to impress them by making bruschetta with eggplant and parmesan, you know in the back of your mind that they’re also going to be looking for a good cup of coffee to finish it off. Keeping a good, quality set of coffee and espresso cups means that you can accommodate any guest, no matter how low or high maintenance they might be about their hot drink. My Demitasse is an excellent review website with a wealth of information about the very best coffee and espresso cups out there, setting you up for success.

The third and final must-have kitchen item that will make or break your dining experience and help immensely with getting that delicious food on the table is a good couple of serving dishes.

Serving dishes are often the last thing we think of when cooking food, but they are the perfect combination of practical and aesthetic. Having a couple of beautiful dishes to complete the ambiance of your classy table arrangement will make all the difference when serving up your guests. From stainless steel to ceramic and china dishes, to dishes that come with lids for those foods that will cool down quite quickly, there’s a fantastic range out there of options that will best suit your décor. Remember, if you go for a neutral linen arrangement, you can mix up those serving dishes, perhaps going with stainless steel for one and ceramic for the other – they don’t have to match.

When it comes to entertaining guests from the kitchen at home, there’s no end to the possibilities you can come up with when perfecting your dining table masterpiece. Your guests will love the effort you’ve put into making sure that their experience was enjoyable as possible, and you’ll enjoy a morning or evening of role-playing the host. You can just pretend that you haven’t hidden all the cracked mugs and stained linen away for the evening. Relax the night away knowing that your guests were thoroughly impressed, and very much entertained.