31 Days of Creative Homemaking :: Day 26--How I Get Ready for a Party

how to throw a party

Today is my husband's birthday!  Happy birthday Brent!  But we are heading to a family wedding this weekend so we decided to celebrate with family and friends last weekend.  His birthday is usually the last of our outdoor entertaining for the year and sometimes we have to bring it inside when it rains.  This year we lucked out with wonderful weather but I forgot how quickly it got dark this time of year.  Trying to finish barbecuing in the dark I was unable to get as many pictures as I usually like to but I think you will still get the feel for the evening.

Like I shared yesterday, I plan the menu about a week before with my regular grocery list.  I then have a place to refer back to the day of the party to make sure I remember everything.  I also jot down page numbers of recipes in cookbooks so they are easier to find.

Depending on what I am making determines what time I start cooking.  Since we were making burgers, I made the meat ahead of time that morning and put it in the refrigerator until we were ready to cook.  I made bleu cheese and bacon stuffed burgers and they may just have been one of the most delicious burgers I have ever tasted.  Seriously.

Since we were having burgers I wanted some kind of outdoorsy theme that wasn't two feminine.  I ended up going with an outdoor bistro look and put together these little chalkboards with the night's menu.  Except they are not actually chalkboards!  I was lazy and just wrote with chalk on black construction paper and then framed it!  Sneaky sneaky!

A few hours before the party starts I set up the tables and table settings and put out decorations.

Since I wanted the party to feel outdoorsy and masculine, I cut greens without blooms from our yard and set out a few of my potted succulents. 

I set up the food table with varying heights of plants and serving platters.  This gave me an idea of how everything was going to fit on the table and what platters I was going to use for each item of food.

About a half an hour before the party starts, I light candles, get outdoor lights on, and start putting out drinks and food that can sit out.  This is also when I try to take pictures while most everything is set up but no one has arrived yet.

When guests have arrived and the food is ready, everyone serves themselves buffet style and finds a place to eat.

Along with the burgers we served oven baked fries, baked beans, caesar salad, and fruit.

It was so dark we even brought out a few lamps from the kitchen to add some extra light to the table.  We have electricity that runs from the back of the yard, that we put in when we put in sprinklers, that the back trees are plugged into.

Next year I'm thinking we should set the table on the patio as it is no longer hot on the open area like it is in the summer and plus we would have some extra lighting.  This is literally coming to me as I type.  Why did I not think of this before?  Will someone remind me of this next year?!

By request of the birthday boy, I made my famous ice cream cake.

And to end the night, here I am looking all psycho with my giant knife that is required to cut through all that cake and ice cream.

The aftermath is probably the messiest but my mom always is super helpful at helping me get things cleaned up after everyone leaves.  I am not a fan of leaving things until tomorrow so we get as much loaded in the dishwasher and the larger serving pieces rinsed before going to bed.

This is what the house usually looks like the next day or two after a party.

I sometimes leave out the vases until things die but other times it is just nice to throw it all away and be done with it.

In a nutshell this is how I throw parties.  It is never quite perfect and that is okay.  This time I forgot to put out the lettuce for the hamburgers so now we have a whole head of lettuce I do not know what to do with.  But that is okay.  As long as people leave full and happy, it was a success in my book!

I like that our life is a mix of perfectionist imperfection.  When it comes to setting a table or putting out decor I love spending extra time on the details.  But if we have a basket of laundry left out because I was so busy making construction paper chalkboards, I don't worry about it.  It reflects us.  We love a good pretty party but we are not so stuffy where people feel unwelcome.  This is truly an art in my opinion.  So don't feel bad about a room being messy.  It will make people feel more comfortable knowing you are normal!

Check out all posts from the 31 Days of Creative Homemaking Series here.


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