Entertaining and party planning are some of my favorite things to do in my home. Today I wanted to share some of my go to tips for throwing a successful party without losing your mind! You can have a welcoming, beautiful, and delicious party with just a little planning ahead!
I usually do my grocery shopping in the beginning of the week (and usually entertain on the weekends) so my menu and food is bought days in advance. Midweek I start to clean up things around the house and mentally plan if there is any type of extra items I might need for a special theme or event.
Though most people would not recommend this, I often try new recipes when we have a party. I do make sure that the new recipes I consider are all made up of food that I love and so it usually is pretty safe. It may not be the best thing I ever made but it is usually good enough for someone who is hungry to eat!
I do about a 50/50 ratio of new recipes to my go to recipes. If one thing is a total bust there is other food to pick from. I would not try as many recipes if I did this only because I try to feed my husband and I fairly healthy food on a regular basis. Indulging with a new recipe is better rationalized when there are others there to enjoy it. And in most cases, there are not too many things that a little salt and pepper can't fix!
When I throw any type of get together I try to pick just a few areas that get extra focus. I decide what is most important--the food, activity, or the decor. I spend time on all of these but I only try to go above and beyond on one. For my birthday this year, I wanted to put together a DIY photo booth. Since my focus was on an "activity" I did not spend as much time on the food and went with tacos that could sit in a crock pot until ready to eat.
For my husband's birthday (will share about his party tomorrow!) I put the focus on the food. I made two different styles of gourmet burgers with lots of side dishes because I knew that would mean the most to him. I did end up decorating but most of it was last minute and because I had some extra time to put things together.
So if you were to run out of time, what is the most important aspect to your party? Focus on that first and plan ahead to make it happen.
USE REUSABLE PARTY SUPPLIES
I am able to put a party together with everything I have at home except for the food. By having supplies on hand there is less to buy before hand and I can put the party together the day of knowing I have all my key supplies.
I have a collection of white dishes that is used for many of our parties. I have about 50 white dinner plates that have been collected from the Dollar Tree, thrift stores, and hand me downs. We also have our nicer everyday dishes/china that can be used if we needed extra plates. The same goes for silverware.
I use canning jars to drink out of and we serve water and lemonade (that I always keep stocked). We rarely serve any other kinds of drinks (besides coffee and tea in the colder months or girl's get togethers) and it has saved us a lot of money and planning.
There is the argument that sometimes it is nice to just throw paper plates away (which I agree with!) but the money it saves for how often we entertain, I prefer to use the real thing as it feels nicer to eat off of and I don't mind making sure the dish washer is empty before a party.
I also have a supply of small appetizer and salad plates that get used for cake and appetizer style eating (like at our holiday dessert party).
Sometimes I need a second large size crock pot so I will borrow one from my mom. Storing another crock pot would take up too much room for something that rarely got used so borrowing for us makes more sense. Don't be afraid to ask and borrow from friends and family!
HAVE SUPPLIES HANDY
Storing your supplies deep in your cupboards or under the bed (I have been there, don't worry!) makes your supplies less accessible and less likely you will actually use them. All of my serving supplies are out of the box (one more reason to not get it out!) and stored either in our kitchen or dinning room. I used to have more items stored elsewhere until I realized I had too much. So I purged only to the items that I used most often.
Storage space is also something to consider as bowls that nest or large plates that can be stacked are much easier to store. The same goes for keeping a few cake stands that can be stacked versus a cupcake stand that does not fit anywhere!
I make sure all of my serving pieces get used multiple times a year. This means swapping my turkey platter with a big ol' turkey on it for a large rectangle serving dish instead! Especially for large serving pieces, investing in ones that you can use in multiple entertaining situations will cut down on what you have to store.
The biggest serving items we have are our drink dispensers. Though they take up a ton of space, we use them at almost every party we have. They are worth the extra space they take up.
You can read here and here about where I store everything.
GET AS MUCH AS YOU CAN DONE BEFORE YOUR GUESTS ARRIVE
At the end of the party my heart is most full if I feel like I got to enjoy my company and not whether or not the decorations were perfect. In order for me to be more present for my guests I have to have the majority of the party together by the time the first guest arrives.
We utilize our oven, toaster oven, very large microwave (we purchased our microwave with the consensus that a casserole dish had to be able to fit in it!), and crock pots to keep food warm so that food can be cooked before hand and that I did not have to stress about food getting cold if guests were running late.
MAKE SOMETHING FEEL SPECIAL
It is the small details that make your guests feel special. We have a collection of flavored Torani syrups we like to put out to add to cold or warm drinks. Letting guests pick out their own flavor concoction makes their drink that much more fun! We have also served a popcorn bar on a movie night where guests got to pick from a whole range of popcorn toppings to personalize their bowl. Another easy version of this is ice cream sundaes which always seems to be a hit! Sometimes giving your guests a choice of what they want to eat on their ice cream makes more of statement than a gourmet cake!
Other ways you can make your guests feel special is adding some decorations or a pretty candle in the bathroom or putting up some balloons at your front door. Wherever your guests may wander, having a little something special there will make them feel welcome and excited to be there.
MY MOST USED SERVING DISHES
The following is a list of all my most used serving dishes that I recommend for entertaining:
1. White nesting bowls--used for prepping food and also serving dishes in a variety of sizes.
2. White stacking cake stands--these make your food look pretty but also add height that can be used for food or decorations to make up your table.
3. Trays--trays can be used to collect similar items that belong together like cups, silverware, or even condiments for a certain food.
4. Cold weather drinks in a basket--I store my hot teas and hot cocoa in a basket so that it can be grabbed and put out for guests to look through and pick their drink of choice.
5. Drink dispensers--both of my drink dispensers are made of glass and were purchased at Sam's Club or Costco. We use them to serve water, lemonade, and iced tea. I like to have two so that water is always an option. Your friends who are trying to watch their weight or do not love sugar as much as I do will appreciate this gesture!
6. Basket of napkins--even if I set each place setting with a napkin, I still put out a basket of napkins. Someone will eventually need an extra. I use the same basket that I leave out on our table that we use everyday. This way I can just grab it and add it to the party spread.
7. Pitchers and vases in a variety of sizes--these can be used to serve drinks, creamers for coffee, but can also be used as vases for flowers.
8. Rectangle or square plates in different sizes--flat plates can be used to serve appetizers, desserts, or for laying out condiments like lettuce, tomato, and cheese for burgers.
9. Grow flowers and greenery in your yard---okay, so not a serving dish but once I started cutting from my own yard, I know longer had to worry about what would decorate the table.
// What are some of your go to party tips?
Check out all posts from the 31 Days of Creative Homemaking Series here.