Planning a Party: Martha’s Checklist

Hosting a Sangria party in a couple weeks! My guest count is around 15-18 guests.

Planning for family and friends can be stressful, but keeping a list and prepping ahead of time will bring you a peace of mind. Staying organized is key to enjoying your party and being a great host!

This checklist is for a small scaled event such as a house warming or dinner party. The great Martha Stewart has created a Party-Planning Checklist which I will walk you through. Also check out the additional posts where I go into more details.

One month before:

  • Set your theme
  • Set the date
  • Finalize Date
  • Mail, Email, Evite, or Facebook you guests an invite

Three weeks before:

  • Finalize menu
  • Food Prep
  • List ingredients to cook/bake
  • If you really want to impress your guests with a recipe now is the time to test your cooking/baking skills.
  • Take inventory of serving tableware and glassware, know what menu items will be served on platters, bowls, or serving trays
  • Decorations

How much time are you willing to spend in the kitchen? Be realistic and know your limits.

Serving platters can also be rented or borrowed so don’t feel like you have to spend big bucks to serve your appetizers.

How and who will be serving the food? Think about where the food will be setup in your home. Do you really mind if everyone just helped themselves from the kitchen or will setting up in the dinning/living room will be more effective? If you need help serving food, ask your significant other or friend to help you out.

Who will be making cocktails? Is it fair to have someone stationed at the bar during the party? If not, look into hiring a bartender for a few hours. If that’s out of reach, make a batch of Sangria or Margaritas and have guests serve themselves.

Decorations should be considered far in advance. Depending on the details of your party decor, DIY projects should be given plenty of time to prevent any midnight craft projects the night before the party. Nobody likes a tired host.

Two Weeks Before:

  • Buy the alcohol
  • Buy decorations
  • If guest offer to bring food, let everyone know what they can bring
  • Go over your tableware and silverware again
  • Start cleaning out refrigerator
  • Decide on music play-list

The Day before:

  • Start setting up the food/bar stations and arrange furniture
  • Decorate the designated rooms
  • Buy fresh flowers
  • Buy perishable foods
  • Begin prepping foods
  • Make sure all your serving platters have been washed
  • Make room in refrigerator

Prepping as much as you can the day before is the key to being the gracious party host. The day of the party, the less you have to do the more time you’ll have to solve last minute blunders.

Don’t feel overwhelmed. Your house does not have to be decorated like a scene from Downton Abby.

If you can manage to get the rooms clutter free, there’s nothing more easy then placing flowers in a vase to create a warm ambiance. Arrange flowers in small vases and place them on coffee tables, side tables, bar area, anywhere guest are likely to congregate.

The goal of prepping the food simply means that all carrots, celery, grapes, and strawberries should be washed and ready for arranging the day of the party. Dips can also be made the day before.

Again look over your serving plates and bowls. Have extras in case someone decides to surprise you with a dip when they arrive. The less scrambling around the kitchen = less stress.

Set up the bar area, have wine openers, shakers, and glasses out.

Day of the party:

  • Arrange fruit/vegetable platters and store in fridge
  • Complete the bar setup with bottle and mixers
  • Finish decorating or arranging flowers
  • Setup food stations with napkins and utensils

Four hours till guests arrive:

  • Chill wine and mixers

Hour before guests arrive:

  • Place food platters and dips on food station
  • Pickup food from caterer or arrange for food to arrive around this time
  • Play music list
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