Soiree season is about to make your home's busiest room a lot crazier. A few tweaks and your kitchen will be a stress-free zone.
Party Ready Kitchen

Spread out. Park a folding table against the wall for more food prep room, and add a "busing" area, like a plastic tub by the sink. It'll keep guests from piling dirty dishes on the counter, says Michael Jennings, coowner of San Francisco's Small Potatoes Catering & Events.

Add ambience. It'll draw you to the kitchen even after an app-making marathon. Put a collage of photos on the fridge. Place a lamp on the table or atop the fridge, says Rebecca Moses, author of A Life of Style: Fashion, Home, Entertaining, to cast a glow on the kitchen, and a weary host.

Breathe, literally. A cookie- or pie-baking blitz can keep the oven cranking all day: "Let air into the kitchen," says Craig Thompson, owner of Shandaken Bake in Shandaken, New York. Cracking a window or stepping outside will refresh you and head off a too-much-dough crash.

Hold court. Since you know the party will end up in the kitchen anyway, set up barstools in a corner and let folks loiter while you chop crudités or whip cream. Better yet, says Sharon Juergens, a chef and caterer in Royal Oak, Michigan, put friends to work with small tasks between cocktails.