No, my hair isn’t on fire – A Guide to Party Planning

Every year, Mathlete and I host a Christmas party.  It almost always falls on the second Saturday of December (so mark your 2012 calendar!).  After over 9 years of hosting this party, I have gotten in a semi-rhythem that really helps me stay on track {Insert Mathlete laughing because, even with all this planning, I still run around like a headless chicken come 6pm on party night!}.

The first step to any party is invitations.  Yep, CAPT Obvious here today.  In the past, I have sent paper invitations along with an evite for people I don’t have a physical address for.  99% of the time evite gets more responses.  People with the paper invites still come but they just don’t always RSVP.  Not a big deal really.  This year, I embraced the digital world and went evite only.  Yes, I know that I probably broke some major party ettitiquette rules but my pocket book is a little heavier because of it.

[Tip Junkie]

Ok, our invitations are sent so I move onto the next biggest thing: food.  I like to think that people come to the party to visit with us but I know a big part of it is food and drink.  Heck, that is a big reason why I go to parties!  Knowing this, I spend quite a bit of time planning the food aspect.  We have a few standard items you will see each year (meatballs, cheese platter, etc.) but I always try to bring in a few new items too.  Some highlights from this year’s menu:
Bacon herb cupcakes with cream cheese “frosting”
Chicken Satay bites
Pancetta, pear and goat cheese bites
I am sure you notice that the word bite is in a more than one of those descriptions.  We try to keep most things bite sized to limit the flatware we need to provide/wash.

[12 Ways of Christmas]

Of course, you can’t eat without having a drink.  So, cocktails are part of the planning too.  We usually offer beer, wine and one holiday themed cocktail.  This year, I am leaning towards Sparkling Pomegranate Punch.

[Design Mom]

 Once I have the menu set, I put all of the recipes into a folder.  Then, I use them to build my shopping lists.  This usually involves multiple stores.  I am totally in love with the online shopping my grocery offers now so I am using that to save a ton of time!
Also in the folder is my timeline.  This is a breakdown of all the tasks that need to be completed prior to the party such as setting out platters, cooking food, setting up drink stations, etc.  My timeline typically starts on the Monday prior to the party.

[Mocha Mom]

On the Thursday prior to the party, I buy most of the groceries.  The only thing I exclude on these shopping trips are bread, any seafood and chives/green onions.
Then, for the next 2.5 days, you can find me

I try to choose several recipes where the bulk of the work can be done in advance.  Sauces can usually be made up to 2 days in advance.  Meatballs can be mixed, formed and frozen months in advance if you choose.
On my party day schedule, I try to leave an empty two hours.  This is especially helpful in case I need to make an extra trip to the store or I get behind on a task.  If everything goes as planned (what is it they say about best laid plans?), that two hours can be used to relax before the party.
Ding dong…it’s 8pm.

[Lipstick Alley]


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