Organize My Party
I was recently asked by a friend to help her organize a 4th of July party. I realized that although the party was not to be anything elaborate, what might be fun and easy for me may not be that way for someone else. In fact, this is the reason many people don’t like to entertain. It takes too much effort and then it's not fun for the host! So, here are some tips to make the party fun for you too.
1. Create your guest list.
Whether you are texting, emailing, Facebook messaging, or sending physical invitations to extend invites, know that at least 10% won’t be able to attend for one reason or another. The invitations should include the date, day, time, and an RSVP for "yes" or "no". This takes the stress out of who is coming and how much to prepare.
2. Decide on food and beverages.
In the Northeast and many places in the country, it is customary for people to offer to bring a dish to share. For example, in the summer I often plan a BBQ dinner and supply the drinks as well, but I will accept offers of salads or desserts. When guests ask what to bring feel free to be specific. A potato or pasta salad, a green salad, or a fruit salad. This way you know what is coming and don’t need to stress about having enough food or the selection that you hoped for.
3. Create a shopping list.
Think about food items, but also paper goods and beverages. You should do your shopping at least two days ahead of time.
4. Prep food the night before.
Marinade the meat, make the hamburgers, prep for salads, etc. Try not to do food prep on the day of the party. You don’t want to be exhausted when your guests arrive!
5. Do a quick pick up.
Pick up the house and maybe wipe down the guest bathroom but don’t do a thorough clean. Honestly, most people are not going to care if your floor is dirty or the rug isn’t vacuumed. You may have lots of people through the house and it will get dirty again. Save the big clean for after the party.
6. Set up.
Set up the outdoor space or house with extra chairs or tables. Maybe friends or neighbors have stuff to borrow. Consider setting up a beverage table that is self-serve and out of the way of the food table. Have a bin for trash and recycling out plus extra bags in the trash bin in case you have to empty once before the party is over.
7. Check the gas.
Make sure you have gas for the grill if it's a BBQ. It's no fun to run out of propane half way through cooking the steaks!
Plan on some yard games. Many people like to have something to do instead of just sitting and visiting. Bocce, croquet and badminton are always a hit!
9. Solicit help from your family or best friend.
Delegate jobs so you are not doing it all yourself.
10. Plan an hour to relax before guests arrive.
I like to put my feet up and have a glass of wine.
I hope that these tips help take the stress out of entertaining! I would love to hear your tips as well.