Now that you have a date and a guest list what do you do? I like having a party theme. While it is not necessary, I have found over the years if I have a general theme, it helps guide me making choices. A casual holiday get together? Keep invitations simple. You can find links to making your own invitations by searching google. There is no reason to spend a lot of money, but as I said yesterday the invitation sets the tone so don’t send formal invitations if the party is casual. I like to add a suggestion for how to dress. This way no one is made uncomfortable. Examples are casual festive dress, formal holiday attire, favorite ugly Christmas sweater etc.
I sit down and make a timeline. I begin with the date I began my planning and end with the party date, which is broken down by hours. I plan the menu. If guests are contributing, when they RSVP, I ask what they will be bringing so I don’t end up with 5 spinach dips. I make a list of what I am going to serve. Then I pull the recipes and make a grocery list directly from the recipes. This way I am certain not to forget a key ingredient. It also allows me to spread the cost out over a few weeks. I can buy non-perishable goods early.
Mail the invitations approximately 3 weeks before the party. You want to give your guests plenty of time to plan and save the date, find babysitters (if children are not included), etc. Keep a guest list handy so you can mark responses as they come in.
Depending on the guests, I make my beverage list. I try to keep it simple as to limit the space needed to serve. Wine, beer, water, soft drinks work for me. You can use large metal buckets to ice down the drinks. Be sure to have a wine and bottle opener handy. You can leave your buckets the grey metal color or you can spray paint them, adding lettering stating what is in the bucket.
**I have found over the years it pays to invest in inexpensive wine glasses. I would buy wine glasses that come by the dozen every time I would get a coupon from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I could get 12 for about $8. You can use plastic but if you begin to entertain on a regular basis, you’ll save money buying reusable items. I do use disposable flatware. I like the clear flatware that can be found in bulk at Sam’s and Costco. I also use mismatched china and glass plates too, but you can use disposable if it is easier for you.
A couple weeks out from the party, I inventory what I have for serving making sure I have enough. I add to my timeline to set the buffet table the night before the party. I also clean two days before the party with a quick once over in the bathrooms the day of the party.
So as of now, you should have your guest list, invitations, theme, menu, grocery list, inventory serving plates, glasses and timeline set. Tomorrow I will write about decorating and setting up the buffet table.