The easiest way to throw a party? Break it down into steps and prepare a little bit at a time...
Party Planning 101: The Timeline
3-4 weeks before the party:
Send out invitations (call, email, snail mail).
1 week before:
Finalize your menu & make a list of everything you’ll need to buy or make for the party.
Two days before:
Load your CD player or MP3 player with a great party playlist
-Stick with the party theme if you want, Zydeco bands for Fat Tuesday, Mariachi on Cindo de Mayo… or collect a few of your favorite albums – anything you think would make nice background music.
Clean up your house. Clear off counters, make space in the fridge, hide anything you wouldn’t want your guests to see (dirty laundry, piles of mail, stacks of magazines, etc.).
Go to the grocery store, liquor store, farmer’s market, etc and get all your supplies.
The night before:
Set the table, put out your centerpiece or decorations, set out glasses & cocktail napkins and gather the serving dishes & utensils you’ll need.
Prep anything you can – chop ingredients, make sauces or dressings, cook anything that can be done early so all you have to do is assemble & finish it all off tomorrow.
Two hours before:
Shower & get dressed. Wear something comfortable that you can move around in and don’t mind getting a little dirty. It’s hard to be a good hostess if you’re secretly freaking because you spilled something on your great-grandmother’s lace shift.
Set up after dinner coffee so you can just turn it on when it’s time for dessert.
One hour before:
Put out appetizers that can be served at room temperature.
Remove ingredients from the fridge & start finishing your dishes.
As first guests arrive:
Greet them, take their coats & pour them a drink. Then put them to work! The early birds will appreciate having a task to do so ask them to start the music, open the wine, finish setting the table…something easy that will keep them busy and out of your way while you finish up in the kitchen.
Relax & have fun! Mingle with your guests and enjoy their company – that’s why you invited them over in the first place, right? Once everyone has arrived & had a chance to enjoy a cocktail (no more than 45 mins-1 hour) slip into the kitchen & do any last minute touches on the meal, then call everyone to the table or buffet.