This season we have enough to think about: decorating houses, buying gifts, hosting guests from out of town, cooking, and keeping kids busy while on break from school. In between all of this, we also have home parties to plan too! To help get organized, we created a quick do it yourself holiday party checklist to help make your party flawless and fun!
5 Days Before Party
Revisit your guest list. This is great time to take look at who is coming and double check to see if there are any guests who have dietary requirements, as many people do these days. If so, take a close look at you menu and see if there is already an alternative for them. If you are confused about what they can, or can’t have, the individuals with restrictions and run the menu by them if there is nothing suitable for them, ask if they can bring a dish, or if possible modify your menu. For a formal sit-down dinner, make your seating chart.
Now is also the best time to decide on a final menu and make any further adjustments. If you are hosting a potluck, make a list of who is bringing what and make sure nothing is missed. If you are cooking, make a detailed shopping list, then go through your kitchen to see what you already have, checking off what you will need at the store.
Whether you are hosting a potluck, a cocktail party, or a formal gathering, five days ahead is also a great time to get a jump start on decorating! Many of us have holiday lights and trees up just after Thanksgiving, but if you are adding any extra sparkle, or flare (aside from fresh flowers) set it up early. This way you can see what works and re-arrange as needed. Keep the “flow” of the party in mind and also if guests will need to set food or drinks down, make sure you have enough clear table room. Move furniture if necessary.
2 – 3 Days Before Party
Grocery shop and buy any needed wine, beer, or spirits. As a rule of thumb, plan three bottles of wine for every four people, three to four cocktails per guest for a two to three hour party. Place any special orders with a florists or the bakery while you are out.
When home, set up your bar area with glasses, cocktail napkins, straws, corkscrews, and the all of the needed mixers, uncut citrus, unopened olives, etc… (Also can leave out red wine and liquor, just chill beer and wine in fridge.)
Clean your house, or at least the area where your guests will be, and make sure the walk way to your entrance is clear of snow and ice!
If you have time, try to make a play list for the evening. Think of starting with mellow and familiar tunes for early cocktails, quiet, or classical for dinnertime, and end with lively festive music for after dinner – this could lead to dancing!
1 Day Before Party
Do any last minute shopping!
Begin on any food preparations and recruit a few friends over to help. Finish any day-ahead recipes and chop, marinate, or mix any foods that need to be cooked on your party day. Try to get as much done in the kitchen the day before!
Put out any needed utensils, plates, or napkins. For formal affairs, set the table and arrange fresh flowers.
Day of Party
Finish any food prep as early in the day as possible. Many foods can be warmed back up at party time.
Two hours before, put finishing touches on your bar area, cut the citrus, open the olives, and make sure you have enough ice and water. (We like to dress-up water with seasonal fruits and herbs.) Also, set out any food that will not spoil, like nut bowls or, popcorn.
One hour before the party: Put on your party dress! (Having a cocktail while you do this is optional!)
Thirty minutes before guests arrive, place hot food in desired locations wrapped tightly with foil. When people arrive take foil off dishes.
Light any candles and turn on your music.
Relax and have fun with family and friends!