It’s party season. We host parties big and small just about every month. However, for most people December is the time that they may host a small gathering or large shindig. The key to a successful party is to make it as stress-free as possible so you can have as much fun as your guests. With December a month filled with holiday parties and family get-togethers, here are of our tips for it to be little easier. The key is to have a game plan and timeline for getting things done.
1. Set the date, time, place, and theme at least a month before. Choose something that might make your party unique – a special drink or all local wines, party favors, everyone wears hats, décor, or fabulous food theme. Remember you don’t have to make the food complicated but you should attempt to make it look good even if it is store bought.
2. Develop the guest list and send invitations. Many people do not understand the importance of responding to an invitation with a timely yes or regrets; so be creative if you want a response.
3. Think about the party flow – how people will mingle and move through the space will determine where you place the bar, put additional tables and chairs, or set out food. The party flow also ensures that people get to know one another better. Put someone in charge of monitoring the bar or food tables for you. Particularly someone that might not know many people because the job will give them an opportunity to talk to folks.
4. Music is important. Think about the atmosphere you want to create and the range of people attending. I might listen to country music, but the type of party atmosphere may be more contemporary jazz. Match the music to the party theme. Be cognizant of how loud the music is if you want guests to be able to talk.
5. One week before – decide on the menu, drinks, and determine what you might need to order or purchase (i.e. utensils, flowers, plates, chairs, etc.). Clean the house and declutter. Hint – put away things, even from medicine cabinets, that you don’t want people to see. You would be amazed!
6. Two days before, buy groceries and wine or liquor. Wash all glasses, vases, or serving pieces. Put sticky notes on serving pieces for the different food items. It makes platting the day of the event easier. Think about and prepare any take home favors.
7. Day before is prep day. Chop vegetables for salads, make dressings or marinades, and anything else that can be made a day ahead. Set the table if you are having a dinner party, prepare place cards for seated events, and arrange flowers.
8. Morning of the party – chill the wine, set up the bar with sliced lemons or garnishes, and make final food preparations such as meat marinades or peeling shrimp. Clean the bathrooms and ensure clean towels, soap, and plenty of toilet paper. Identify a place for dirty dishes out of view and ensure there are enough trash cans.
9. Two hours before – finish food that can be done before guests arrive, set out serving platters on buffet (if appropriate), and set out favors or guest gifts.It is a nice touch to send something home with the guests such as gift wrapped homemade cookies for the ride home.
10. One hour before party time – light candles, adjust overhead lighting, turn on music, get dressed,relax, and smile (or drink a glass of champagne like we do). Remember – they don’t know what you didn’t get done!