Planning a party is not only an art form, it is a science as well. The following is a basic schedule and with some helpful hints to make sure you have a “perfect landing” for your next event.
3 weeks before: Send fun/beautiful invitations to your prepared list of guests. Include an email address or cell phone number for techy guests to send a response for an RSVP. There’s nothing like a piece of snail mail in our busy, fast-paced world to make a person feel special. Be sure to keep a copy of the invitation for your own reference.
2 weeks before: If you will need special accessories or food that needs to be catered, be sure that you have ordered it by this time.
1 week before: Plan your menu and any activities you will have at the party. Gather recipes together, along with a copy of the invitation and guest list. Make placecards for the table if necessary. Develop a floorplan for the event. Be sure to count the number of guests so you have enough seating for everyone. Know if you will need to rent or borrow extra chairs or tables. Purchase candles, disposable tableware, napkins, etc… if you will be using them.
4 days before: Make your grocery list by going through your menu and each recipe step by step. Double check pantry items you need to have on hand. Know if you will need to buy ice.
3 days before: Buy groceries. Start to gather the serving pieces you will need for each menu item into your serving area. You may want to consider placing non-perishable ingredients in the serving dishes to organize and begin double checking your groceries to avoid last minute trips to the store.
2 days before: Today is cleaning day. Be sure bathrooms are clean and you have fresh towels and t.p. on hand. Consider adding a fresh arrangement or holiday decor to the bathroom. Plan a place for guests to put their coats if necessary.
1 day before: Prepare any recipes that can be made a day ahead. If you are having a buffet, set up the serving area with pretty linens. Lay out the actual serving bowls and utensils. I always put a post-it note or small card with the menu item in the empty serving dish so I know where everything will go the day of the party. Make an ice-ring of fruit juice or bottled beverage for your punch bowl. A large piece of ice will keep the punch cold for much longer than regular ice cubes and the juice or soda will not dilute the punch! Make an hour-by-hour schedule for the day of the party, estimating the time you need to complete certain tasks to be on time. Don’t forget to allow time to “look pretty” yourself!
Day of the party: Follow your schedule and then have fun! The details will fall into place, and if you still need a little extra help setting up when your guests arrive, they will be delighted to lend a hand!