You're not Ina Garten, but you've got this!
There's a lot that goes into hosting a party that you can enjoy, too. Planning is key!
Depending on the type of celebration you're having, you may want to start planning as early as 2-3 months in advance. For some parties, you just need a day or so.
Here's 8 tips on what to consider in planning your next event.
Don't forget to download and print our 3 free Party Planning Checklists!
Cleaning your House
Cleaning is the last thing on your list of "fun things to do" before getting ready for your party - but a necessary evil! Plus, it pays off in the long run.
Nothing beats having a clean house that you don't have to be worried about before people come over.
The most important places to focus your cleaning on are:
The entryway (or where ever people are walking in)
The guest bathroom
The dining area (or where ever you are eating)
The kitchen (worth cleaning last!)
Here are our top cleaning tips!
#1: Stock your bathroom. In your bathroom, wipe down all of your surfaces and then make sure you're stocked on all of the essentials. Be sure to have extra rolls of toilet paper, a clean hand towel, and a toilet spray - just in case!
#2: Provide space for your guests to set down their things. In the entryway, clear out the piles of coats, bags, and shoes you've accumulated. Put them away!
#3: Clean your kitchen last. Nobody wants a dirty kitchen, but don't stress the night before if the kitchen doesn't look spotless. You will need to tidy it up again the day of the party as you begin setting food out and putting finishing touches on your dishes.
#4: Wipe down your glasses, silverware & plates the night before. If you're having a more formal party and using china, use a dust-free cloth with just a little water. This will prevent any embarrassing mishaps of fingerprints and residue once your friends arrive.
Creating your Menu & Making a Shopping List
These two things are the most important parts of planning any party I've hosted. When Justin and I are making a menu for a party, we may or may not have experience with every recipe. Of course, you can trial-run your recipes, but we also have enough cooking experience, (and not enough time,) to do this.
Instead, we put a good amount of planning into our menu and shopping lists. Read more on how to design a party menu on the blog, but once you've determined what you want to make, don't just print of an ingredient list from any recipe online.
Do your research and find a few recipes for the things you want to make. Are there too many steps? Will the recipe take too much time? Will you even be able to find all of the ingredients?
#5: Find the recipe for each dish that makes the most sense for you. Make sure you understand each of the steps, and if you don't - find a different recipe or make something else!
Once you have the recipes all in order, think about how you want to serve each dish.
Do you have enough bowls or plates? If not, add a few to your shopping list.
Do you need appetizer or dessert plates for your party? If not, add those too!
Would your dish look cuter if you put them in individualized cups? Again, we'll be adding those to the list…
Oh - and does that dish need a sauce? Now to find something pre-made or another recipe…
At the end of the day, remember that your shopping list isn't just a bunch of groceries. It's everything you need for the party.
Decorating the Space
I am a big fan of simple décor. However, when Justin and I first began entertaining, this was a subject I got hung up on.
Would my party still be fun if I didn't have a cute photo-backdrop or an fresh flower tablescape with mercury candlesticks and fresh eucalyptus?
Of course it will be!
Would my party look cute with some fresh flowers or a couple of candles around the house?
Yes - and that sounds much simpler and stress free.
If you're having a themed party, décor will absolutely help set the fun mood of your event and I've DIY'ed my fair share, but:
#6: Don't let decorations prevent you or overwhelm you from having people over.
The mission is to have fun, not stress out!
Cooking the Food
Our overall philosophy on cooking for our party is to prep as much as possible, and finish off the dishes the day-of.
Since you've already planned out your menu and gathered up everything you need to start cooking, this should be enjoyable!
With that said… before you start cooking:
#7: Take a few minutes and make a list of the order you want to cook things in.
For example, if the potatoes need to boiled for an hour, you can start on those, chop up vegetables for another dish in between, and then strain the potatoes and finish that dish. This helps you make the most of that time.
A good rule of thumb is to prep any side dishes that can be pre-made the day before the party. The day before the party is also a good time to wash, cut, season, and mix anything that can be prepared for your appetizers and main dish(es). This will also open up the many pots, pans, cutting boards, and bowls - free for use the next day as you finish things up!
On the day of, you'll just have to cook your main dish(es) and assemble your appetizers. The rest you can reheat as needed and set out when the rest is ready!
Stress. Free. Cooking. *
My most important tip!
If you're anything like us and accidentally plan to make way too much food:
#8: Stop while you're ahead and don't go overboard!
Whether you realize it as you're running out of time for cooking, or if you realize it while you're grocery shopping and your cart starts to overflow - give yourself grace. Stop the madness before it starts and stick to the staples!
PS: Don't forget to wipe down your kitchen at the end! (Tip #4!)