Have you seen posts on my blog that have to do with entertaining? I couldn’t execute them without the help of my friend and party planning extraordinaire, Julie. She is usually one of the main people behind the scenes helping me to make everything perfect for my guests.
As time passes, I realize more and more that our time with others is the best gift we can give, especially in today’s crazy, busy world. As we get older, we become more selective about who gets our attention, but the ones we choose are cherished.
If you’ve been wanting to entertain a few guests or host a party, don’t wait! You can do it with a little planning. And it can even be fun, not stressful! Julie shows us how to do it.
Now, don’t let your eyes glaze over as you read this. Just skim it for now, and plant it in your mind you will host something. Then come back later to look more closely at the details. The purpose of this post is to inspire you to entertain!
This is a contribution post by Julie Sinai, Manhattan Beach resident, mom and all things hosting.
You CAN host a party
When I met my husband 31 years ago, I was clueless on the importance of gatherings and parties in the Persian Jewish community. But I learned quickly that gatherings are a main theme in the Persian culture. Imagine Thanksgiving on a monthly basis… that’s pretty much my life! Sometimes, they’re intimate family dinners of less than 10 guests, and other times they’re big bashes with hundreds at the party. Over the years, I’ve learned that planning is the key to a successful event.
Two things all of my entertaining events have in common are 1) elegance and 2) an abundance of delicious food. After hosting hundreds of functions, I’ve gotten the hang of this entertaining world I live in, and I’ve come to value gatherings and parties as a way to bond and connect with family and friends. What started out as a duty has become my expression of love!
Join me in this planning process to plan YOUR next hosting event.
Planning for a Party
The most important thing about entertaining is to plan well, with enough lead time to get things done without stress. After-all, the process should be as fun as the party itself.
Below is my timeline to get ready for an event. Personally, I like to take my time. But most of this can be done in a shorter period if you are in a crunch.
Also, if you want to save as much time as possible, a lot of the preparation can be purchased. For example you can buy prepared food and buy pre-arranged flowers. And depending on the party, I like to use disposable plates, napkins, utensils and cups. The beauty of being the host is that you can make things as easy or detailed as you want!
4-6 Weeks or more before the event:
- Hire a caterer, if needed.
- Hire servers and bartender, if needed
- Hire or plan entertainment, if needed. TIP: Karaoke can be a fun ice breaker for your guests! For a classier option, hire a local high school musician to play an instrument in the background.
- Have a theme. TIP: Even if it’s just color, it’ll help you to stay focused.
2-4 weeks before:
- Send out invitations- Evite? Paperless Post? Paper? These days, unless it’s a wedding or more formal event, online is the way to go.
1-2 Weeks prior:
- Buy wine, beer, liquor and other non perishables like toilet paper, napkins, garbage bag, mixers, soft drinks, condiments. Keep your receipt as you may be able to return any unused, unopened items like the liquor.
- Place rental orders such as chairs, table, linens, outdoor heaters, coatracks and other party equipment you may need. Renting wine glasses are nice as you can rent them for a dollar and can return them unwashed (but rinsed). TIP: You can also buy glasses and other party materials at places like the Dollar Tree for just $1.
- Plan a menu. This can be a first draft (unless you are catering it, you’ll have to get it set in advance).
1 Week prior:
- Bring out and clean (or buy) party supplies from storage such as Linens, Serving Platters, Trays, Vases, Decorations
- Place your food order with stores, restaurants or bakery. You can make any changes as you get closer but I like to get this out of the way.
- Prepare a music playlist. Spotify is the most efficient.
- Decide on the place setting, if needed.
3 Days prior:
- Buy and prepare flowers by cutting them down. You can use potted flowers and herbs if you’re having an outdoor party. TIP: I buy flowers 3 days before the event to give them time to open up to show them in their prime. What’s more beautiful than a fully bloomed rose?
- Buy groceries – have as much delivered as possible or delegate this chore if you can.
- Set the table, especially if you don’t need your dining table for a few days. Your family may have to eat in the kitchen or elsewhere for a few days!
2 Days prior:
- Start preparing food like salad dressing, cutting and peeling certain vegetables, begin making soups, casseroles.
- Clean the house
1 Day prior:
- Prepare the guest bathroom. Make sure it is stocked with toilet paper, napkins or towels and some sort of air freshener whether it’s a candle, diffuser or spray.
- Prepare the entrance. It should be welcoming and clean.
- Rearrange the furniture.
- Decorate the house.
- Put out flower arrangements and candles.
- Set the table or have the plates, flatware, glasses and napkins ready to be set.
- Set out trays and platters.
- Decide where people will place their coats and purses and set up that area.
- Prepare foods that can be made in advance such as stews, casseroles, etc. Many dishes and desserts can be made most of the way the day before and finished the day of the party or even reheated.
- Set up the bar and a beverage station. I find that people are happy to serve themselves drinks. In some cases, it may be less embarrassing than to ask for that 5th glass of wine!
THE DAY OF THE PARTY:
6 hours before:
- Prepare any cocktails or punch.
- Set out any nuts, uncut fruit, chips
- Make sure the dishwasher is empty and everything is put away. It’s nice to start with a clean kitchen so that you don’t have this chore to do during the party.
3 hours before:
- Set out the cheese.
- Buy (or preferably have someone buy) Ice.
2-1 hour before:
- Start cooking and baking.
- Put out any food that can be left out for a few hours (like condiments)
- Primp and get ready
½ hour before:
- Finish cooking and baking
- Uncork the wine
- Make ice bath for the white wine, beer and sparking wine. Also, make a separate bath for soft drinks.
- Finish mixing the house cocktail and put it in a pitcher or punch bowl.
- Throw away any trash. Another chore you don’t have to worry about during the party.
15 minutes before the party:
- Put on your party shoes, lipstick and make yourself a drink!
Print this checklist out before your next party and use it to plan! Time is the best gift we can give to others. Why not host a gathering to share in laughter and cherished memories with those you love?
If you enjoyed this post on entertaining, check out these other posts:
Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt.