People often wonder how we can have parties and entertain without a) stressing out and b) being stuck in the kitchen the whole time while everyone else is having fun. There is one simple answer…we PLAN!!! We plan the menu, we plan the ambience, we make lists of things to do, we work those lists and make more lists, and we have fun while doing it.
Whether we know months in advance or just a few days, the steps are the same to make sure every event is a success. However, not only do we plan for those known events, we also plan what to have in our pantry, freezer and refrigerator at all times for any impromptu gathering that might arise. Check out our “Kitchen Essentials” page for a list of our favorites. That way, we are always comfortable with that spontaneous invite that comes out of our mouths during a casual conversation with a friend.
Ten Steps to Throwing a Perfect Party:
1) Think about your guests. Who are they? How do they interact? What kind of atmosphere do you want to set for them?
2) Think of your space. Where do you want guests to socialize? Is there a theme? Where will they eat? Do you want to start with appetizers and drinks in one room and then move to another to eat?
3) Stick with what you know. Now is not the time to go crazy and try a bunch of recipes you have never used before. If you want to try something new, make sure you have a back up plan. It’s also best to try new things on people that will support you (e.g. close family and friends). If you are not at ease with the grill, don’t use it! The same goes for the oven. Use appliances and foods within your comfort zone. You have plenty of other time to experiment.
4) Plan your menu. Your menu should fit how you want your guests to interact, the atmosphere you are planning, your theme and where your guests will eat. So plan accordingly.
5) Create and work your lists. Not just your grocery list but your preparation list for food, beverages, house cleaning, decorations, yard work, etc.
6) Don’t forget the beverages. Think about if you want to serve just beer and wine or if you also want to serve liquor. If you are going the liquor route, make sure you have enough mixers. Check out the Beverages link to help with quantity decisions and mixer information.
7) Color, color everywhere. Please, don’t forget the color (Denise’s aunt gets credit for this one)! If you look at your table or menu and realize it’s very monochromatic, throw in a splash of color where you can. Slice a tomato or red onion….throw some paprika on a bowl of hummus…top with some parsley or chives! (P.S. Don’t forget to add some of these items to your grocery list).
8) Expect the unexpected. You should expect something to go wrong. You will be hard pressed to find someone who entertains who has not had some sort of kitchen disaster – the oven starts smoking, you forgot a key ingredient, you cut yourself with a knife, people show up you did not expect – the list is endless. The important thing is not to freak out. When you start entertaining, it is important to have your close friends and family over (aka…your closest people as I can’t bring myself to call them “peeps”). They will understand if something happens and will help you fix it!
9) Last minute preparation. Final walk through of your space, food and you!
10) Have fun! Enjoy your guests and make them feel welcome. If you are not having fun, how can you expect your guests to? Have a glass of wine (or more) if that is what it takes to relax a bit. Know that what is done is done now, so relax and ‘attend’ the party with your guests.