Here is where you will find our party planning checklist ebook and links to other pages where you will find some easy centerpiece ideas, tips for setting up your home bar and simple table arrangements for home parties.
One of the primary ways I stay organized and on track is to first create a folder for each event where I keep recipes and grocery lists. The folders you see in the image below are from actual parties I have hosted.
A welcome home event for my son, a graduation party for my daughter, a Fathers Day Brunch and an Annual Holiday Open House.
In addition to creating folders for each event, I have also learned that whatever you can get out of the way ahead of time do it! Things like decorating the house, picking out the music, stocking the bar, setting up the tables and arranging the centerpieces can all be done well in advance.
The more you can do ahead of time the better. You are going to be busy enough with last minute stuff, like mixing drinks and serving food, so don't add additional stress by worrying about easy things like what music you are going to play.
So how do I figure out exactly what needs to be done ahead of time? I am crazy about my lists! I simply could not host as many parties as I do, and would lose my mind, without them.
I create a party planning checklist, like the ones you see here, for several steps in the planning process. All of them are kept in an event folder along with the recipes I will prepare. The one on top is the actual handwritten checklist I used for the welcome home event for my son.
I have several out of town relatives and friends so it is quite common for me to have people staying at our house for several days at a time. You can imagine how difficult it is to prepare 3 meals a day plus snacks and beverages for multiple days and keep it all straight. My lists keep me sane!
Instead of using handwritten lists, I recently created an ebook to share with my visitors which includes a party planning checklist for each yellow highlighted topic below.
It is in PDF format and is immediately available. You can gain access to this free ebook in a number of ways.
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Below you will find the lists that I included in the ebook. For almost every get-together hosted, I use one or more of these lists.
Recipes by Category - Here's where I list out exactly what I am serving in each category to make sure I have everything covered. Depending on the type of party, I include Appetizers, Drinks, Entrees, Snacks, Salads, Sides and Desserts. Listing them out by category ensures that I have enough for the number of guests I am serving plus makes it easy for me to create menus with items that go well together.
Recipe Preparation Day - Once I figure out what I am serving, I decide what day I am going to prepare the recipe. I usually start cooking 2 or 3 days ahead of time so I need to know what I can make each day. Some stuff can be frozen; others are just better prepared the day before. This house party tip really cuts down on the stress level. Once you figure out what you are making each day, it's a no-brainer. You just refer to your planning checklist and cook!
Grocery List - This planning checklist is where I list the ingredients that I need to purchase to make each recipe. After all of the ingredients are listed, I use a highlighter to designate which store I will buy the items from. I almost always visit 3 stores: Sam's Club for bulk items, a produce store and a general grocery store. The highlighting makes it easy to figure out what I need from each store.
Table Arrangement - For larger parties, I need additional tables set up so I figure out ahead of time where I want each table and my husband takes care of the heavy lifting for me. Then all I have to do is get the tablecloths and centerpieces in place. This is a great example of something that can be done way in advance, at least for indoor table arrangements.
Beverage Coolers - For most of the parties I host, I need several methods for keeping drinks cold. I do not want to have to worry about this on party day so I figure out exactly where we are going to put each cooler, beverage tub and ice bucket. Then I decide what beverages are going in each cooler, and if I have time, I make signs on my computer and tape them to the top of the coolers so guests can easily serve themselves. Again, this is totally dependent on how big of a party I am hosting.
Garbage and Recycle Bins - This may seem anal but I have learned to get garbage cans and recycle bins set up whereever guests congregate. First, the more you have the less likely you are going to be wasting time emptying cans while your guests are there and second, it is just more convenient for everyone involved. I am very specific on my party planning checklist with exactly what rooms or where in the yard I want these placed and again, my husband takes care of it so I can concentrate on cooking and other things.
I keep these folders and planning checklists long after the parties are over so I can refer to them when planning future get-togethers.
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