While you may love throwing a good party, you always feel overwhelmed by the planning and cleanup. There’s no need to stress out the next time you throw a party. Here are some secrets to perfect planning, execution, and cleanup. These tips will have you spending less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying loved ones. That’s what parties are all about — bringing people together.
Make Paperless Invites
Even if you are old school, digital inventions are the way to go. They are beneficial if you are inviting a large group of people. Paperless invitations stay neat and tidy since you won’t make a mistake or mess up your handwriting. They also make it easier to send reminders and updates to your group.
When making digital inventions, keep the design simple and the message to the point. Include all the information that your guests need. There are plenty of free and paid websites that create digital invites that have the look and feel of paper invitations. Avoid the desire to send a text invitation, which is too informal.
Center Your Theme Around Food
A stress-free way to throw a party is to center it around food. This is a good time to look through your favorite recipes. Plan your meals around a theme — such as taco night or international potluck. Sharing your favorite meals and appetizers from one of your favorite cookbooks make your guests feel like they’re part of something special.
You can even include them in the experience by allowing them to cook and prepare food from the cookbook, which will make them feel as if they’re paying homage in some special way. If you don’t know what to make, then enlist the help of a catering company or a party & event rental service.
Cook What You Know
To reduce stress, it’s better to cook what you know. This reduces distractions and unexpected things that get in the way of planning the perfect party. Create a menu that can be given to your guests ahead of time. Toss a salad and heat rolls in the oven before your guests arrive.
If your party doesn’t work out as planned, admit that you can’t do it all. There’s nothing wrong with a little vulnerability. Ask some of your family and friends for help. Or, ask your guests to bring something from the menu. Crossing one or two items off your to-do list will reduce stress and allow you to spend more time out of the kitchen.
Mix and Match Your Tableware
Use your own dishware and tableware to play around with the different centerpieces, bowls, dishes, and linens in the weeks leading up to your party. Mismatched tableware and dishware makes for a unique tabletop. If you need a new set of dishes, settle for neutral dishes that will go with what you already own. Be on the lookout for assorted flatware, mismatched salad bowls, and antique salt and pepper shakers. If you’re on a budget, borrow gravy boats and cake platters from your friends and family.
Use Florals to Your Benefit
The best kind of florals is wintry and wild florals. They’re easy to arrange, last longer than other flowers, and are visually pleasing. Buying the perfect floral arrangement doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Most big-boxed stores and grocery stores carry these types of flowers. Don’t forget to include berries, branches, cedar, grass, and textured greens from your local farm or store.
When it comes to the centerpiece, keep it simple. You want to be able to see your guests from across the table. Play around with different flowers and stem lengths. Use a vintage pot instead of a glass vase, for that added appeal. Remember that your arrangement will be viewed from all points. A string of lights can add a special element without detracting attention.
Make Cleanup Easy
Clean while you cook so that most of the mess is taken care of before your guests arrive. Keep a handful of empty bins around for guests to dispose of their food and drink during a casual party. If it’s a formal party, clear off the table before dessert and the main course. Make sure to stack the cups, plates, and tableware to save counter space.
Since allowing your guests to clear the table will make for awkward conversation, only allow one or two to help. Assign one to load the dishwasher while you prepare cocktails, coffee, or tea and bring out dessert. Remember to accept help with grace. Enjoy the conversation in front of you instead of the rush of getting everything cleaned.
Create Thoughtful Favors
Your favors don’t have to be difficult. Create small, unique gifts that they’ll want to use. Mason jars can be used for almost everything. Use them to store a recipe card, tea bags, or more. Top off the jar with a card with their name on it for that added touch.