We finally did it – our pre-party “hash it out” meeting. We’re just over two weeks out and figured it was finally time to get together (virtually) to go through the party plan again and assign out all the details for the day.
If you’re hosting solo, unfortunately a lot of this will fall on you. But, since my two sisters and I are equally hosting (with additional assistance from my adult niece), we’re able to divide up the work.
The Food: My recommendation is to start here. This is especially true if you’re a solo host. Knowing what you will need to make before the day vs. on the day, what you’ll buy, or what someone else is willing to bring will help you better plan how you’re going to tackle all of the other party elements.
- Multi-host parties – divide up food equally by cost and difficulty level. We have 3 mains, so each of us is responsible for one. We divided the sides and desserts up equally by level of effort to prep ahead of time. We also divided up the alcohol (since this is more expensive) vs. one person buying it all.
- Single-host parties – take advantage if someone says “let me know if I can bring anything!” (with caution… do this with reliable people you can count on to make what you ask, follow any dietary needs, and show up on time with it). And, remember that everything doesn’t have to be handmade from scratch with ingredients you hand-picked… A boxed brownie mix can taste better than from-scratch brownies that didn’t come out quite right. Make a plan for what you will assign out, buy, and make and then note down anything that can be made ahead. This is also a great time to make your grocery list for the party.
The Servingware: now that you’ve nailed down what you’re having and how you’re handling it, make sure to plan for plates, cups, bowls, cutlery, serving dishes and spoons, serving space, etc.
- Is your party inside or outside? – outdoor parties should always have disposable items. This removes any risk that something gets broken or damaged.
- Do you own enough servingware to use “real” stuff? – if not, get a disposible option that looks nice. Or, make the investment. I hosted Thanksgiving a few years ago and decided that an extra set of plates/bowls and silverware would probably come in handy in the future, so I purchased sets that matched what I already had.
- Do you have food that needs to stay warm or cold? – plan accordingly with crockpots, instant pots, chafing trays, or coolers. I once hosted a party outside where I kept the yogurt parfaits in the garage fridge and put a sign on the door to direct people to them!
The Decor & Details: this is basically “everything else.” The other posts in this series have touched on determining what these other items might include. But, what’s important to think about now is how, and when, you’re going to execute on all those plans. The most stressful parties I’ve hosted were stressful because too much was left to the day of. From that I’ve learned to plan ahead. It may seem ridiculous to start planning a party and creating decorations or activities months in advance, but it allows me to enjoy the lead up and actual event so much more.
- Everything that can be done ahead of time should be. – assembling the craft packs, making labels for the food, creating the Playlist, all your shopping for food and supplies, etc. Do it before the day. This includes any food prep that can be done early and putting up any decorations that won’t get in the way of everyday life.
- Anything that has to be done “day of” should be well-organized. – need to fill some balloons with helium? Pick out how many and what colors and set them out with any supplies (ribbon, scissors, a few extra in case any have holes) so that it’s quick and easy for you to do (or, to assign to a party helper to do!). Be sure to think about not only what you need to do, but what other materials (or help) you need to actually do it (tape, scissors, a ladder, two sets of hands, etc.) This will come in handy as you start to organize your “day of” activities.
Next week I’ll walk through how to put together a plan for the day of the event, including how to organize all of the activities you need to accomplish before your guests arrive, without having a total meltdown. Until then…