Whether a Birthday Bash or Christmas Corker – These think-ahead steps will help you enjoy your party as much as your guests.
Three Weeks Before
- Make an invitation list.
- For a large cocktail party, invite 20 percent more people than you can fit, since typically only 70 percent to 80 percent of invitees attend.
- Decide on a theme, if you want one.
- Make, buy, or borrow any decorations or music you may need to fit the theme.
- Send invitations. These can be personalised to your theme as can matching custom thank you notes to send to your more generous guest s after the event.
- Plan the menu – Assemble the recipes (choose only those that can be prepared in advance, perhaps even frozen, with just warming and assembling required on party day). Make a list of how far in advance each can be made, and compile a shopping list.
- Line up any help you may need.
- Consider hiring a high school student or a professional to help with pre- or post party cleaning or to pass drinks or appetizers, replenish buffet food, tidy up, and generally take some weight off your shoulders.
Two Weeks Before
- Clean any crystal, china, and silverware you’ll be using.
- Come up with a playlist. The music should be upbeat and sufficient to last throughout the party. Do a first round of grocery shopping and cooking.
- Prepare any dishes that can be frozen.
One Week Before
- Clean the house thoroughly. This way, you’ll need only a quick once-over before the party.
- Arrange the furniture as you’ll want it for the party, making sure that guests can move easily from one part of your house to another. Tuck away things that will be in the way, precious items that might get broken and any clutter. Figure out the lighting: Using low-wattage bulbs or candlelight will create the right mood.
- Stock the bar.
- Plan three bottles of wine for every four people, three to four cocktails per guest for a two- to three-hour cocktail party.
Three Days Before
- Notify the neighbors to let them know you’re having a party
- Arrange candles, put up theme decorations, etc.
- Specify a place for coats.
- Make space in a closet and fill it with hangers. You could also choose a bed for coats or purchase an inexpensive portable garment rack.
- Finish grocery shopping.
- Make a detailed cooking schedule for your remaining dishes.
One Day Before
- Set the tables/set up the buffet.
- Buy and arrange flowers.
- Finish as much of the cooking as you can.
- Do as much prep (dicing, marinating, rinsing lettuce, etc.) as possible.
- Give your house a once-over.
Day of the Party
- Finish any last-minute cooking (This should be absolutely minimal!)
- Place chairs – Don’t worry about having enough seating for everyone; fewer seats will encourage mingling.
- Display food.
- One to two hours before – set out appetizers and snacks that won’t spoil. Wrap them tightly to ensure freshness; tear off the wrap when the first guest rings the doorbell.
- Greet guests as they arrive.
- Things should be organized so you’re free to mingle, not tied to the kitchen.
Finally – enjoy the fruits of your labour and PARTY ON!