Last night, I hosted a cocktail party for 40 people at my home. For someone with my catering and event experience, pulling it off was second nature. Through years of practice, planning a party has become an instinctual process. Because of this, I tend to forget why so many people avoid entertaining like it’s the plague. After all, entertaining at home is more intimate, less expensive, and certainly healthier than going out all the time. I love having people over to my home; it makes me truly happy. I want to share this happiness with you too!
So, why are people so turned off by entertaining at home? I hear the same excuses over and over: TIME AND STRESS! There’s nothing worse than pouring time, money, and work into throwing a party, only to be miserable the entire time. What’s the point? Aren’t parties supposed to be fun? Well, my friends, stress is the grim reaper of fun. The secret to eliminating stress is to think like an event planner, so let me show you how. Read on for 5 simple tricks to enjoying your own party from an event planning pro!
1. MAKE LISTS
Make a guest list, a grocery list, and a prep list several days in advance. Get yourself organized so you know how many people are coming, how much food and drink to buy, and when you can make all necessary preparations. The prep-list is an event industry essential; it breaks down everything that needs doing into a timeline of individual tasks. This can include table setting, cooking, drink-mixing, and so forth.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU CAN PULL OFF
If you’re not a professional chef, stick to what you know you can do. Don’t try out a fancy recipe for the first time the night of your event. If you’re a novice, feature one or two of your tried-and-true recipes, but take it easy with the rest. There’s nothing wrong with setting out trays of lovely store bought items like olives, crudités, and cheeses.
3. PITCHERS ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS
Unless you’d like to hire a professional bartender, forget shaking drinks to order. There’s nothing wrong with serving simply wine and beer, but a signature cocktail is always a nice touch. Sangrias, punches, and other pitcher-friendly drinks let your guests serve themselves. Bonus: Most pitcher-style drinks taste better when you make them in advance! A good chill in the fridge allows the flavors to marry.
4. TAKE INVENTORY
Know what glassware, cookware, and other equipment you need for your party. If you’re inviting over 25 people, you better make sure you have at least 25 glasses, forks, plates, and so forth. Think beyond just the eating utensils, too. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to find a makeshift serving spoon when the food hits the table.
5. KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP
It’s okay to admit you need help. People love to lend a hand! Overwhelmed by all that cooking? Have friends bring over some appetizers. If you have a big group coming over, think about calling in an extra hand. Hiring a waiter or bartender for a couple hours can be surprisingly inexpensive. Or better yet, simply mention to friends or family that you may need help!