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  • Writer's pictureAnnamarie Stedjan

6 Party Planning Steps for Success

I love a good party, but then again…you doesn’t?!  Super Bowl, Birthdays, Backyard BBQ’s or even an more intimate dinner party with close friends. I look forward to spending time with the people I love, having some great laughs, eating some good food and just enjoying life!

Many people would agree that as much as they love a good party, they would much rather attend one then throw one.  It’s a common fear that I have come across in many a conversation, but the truth of the matter is, if you think it through and plan ahead, you can have a successful shindig without batting an eyelash!

Give yourself at least a week to plan any party or dinner you are having.  A week is a great amount of time to think, plan and execute.  Follow these 6 party guidelines in your planning phase and your get together will be a fantastic success!

1. Pick the Vibe

Are you looking to have a more formal sit down with a few close friends?  Maybe you are thinking of doing multiple courses for dinner, or a simple lunch.  Are you thinking about doing a brunch or buffet with a more relaxed feel?  Either of these options are great.  Which ever you choose, make sure you have the room.

A buffet; where will the food be set up? Is it open to a another room where people can sit, gather and mingle?  If its a sit down dinner, how many people can you comfortably sit at your dining room table?  Anything over 12 people, a buffet may work in your favor for multiple reasons.

2. Know Your Crowd

This might sound funny, but this is probably one of the most important of all the steps.  Now, I know the people you invited are not strangers, but think about them on a more organic, foodie-type level.  Are the people attending this party allergic or food sensitive to any specific ingredient? Are they vegetarian or do they LOVE meat?  Are there more men than woman or vice versa? What about the average age of the group? Are most of the people coming couples or singles?  All of these specifics greatly effect not only what you are going to serve, but how much as well.  It is a fact that parties with older crowds and/or couples tend to eat less than say a houseful of 20 or 30 year old singles.

3. Count Your Heads

So this is kind of a self explanatory step, but nonetheless super important.  If you know how many people you are entertaining, than you will know how much to buy and subsequently, how much to make.  This cuts down on having WAY too many leftovers and/or on the flip side, running out of food (aaaah…could you imagine!  this would never happen in my

4. Set The Menu

Now comes the fun part… Be imaginative! Be experimental! Get those creative juices flowing!  Think of some foods that everyone loves or a special recipe you may have that people look forward to eating.  Start with the basics and build on it!  Taking care to think of Step 2, make sure you have a little something for everyone.

Also, at this point, you get to make the decision on how many courses you will be serving if it’s a sit down, or what your buffet will look like.  Are you doing all cold salads and trays of meats or grilled veggies, or some hot food as well as some cold salads to accompany the stars of the buffet?  This step very easily runs right into Step and 5 and 6.  They all kind of work together….

5. What’s Cooking Where?

Sometimes you can think of this awesome menu and be so happy with it but logistically it doesn’t work.  I know…super frustrating, but you don’t want to drive yourself crazy the day of the party and you would like to have your meal timed right, so think about the following.  How many ovens do you have?  How many things can you fit in each?  Remember, the more food you have jammed in the oven, the more you have to play around with cooking times and temperatures.  If you have a couple of things in the oven at the same time, make sure they can cook at the same temperature.  Same goes for your stove top.  How many burners do you have?  Are any of them simmer burners or power burners?  Picture your pots with your food on the stove, almost like a little map of what fits where.  This makes life so much easier!!

6. Make Ahead

Last but certainly not least, my two favorite words in the cooking/party planning world….make ahead!  YES!!!  Anything you can make ahead of time…do it!! Dressings, chopped veggies for a platter or side dish, hard boiled eggs for deviled eggs, crispy chorizo bits, baked items like breads or muffins…the list can go on and on.  The more you can make ahead the easier the day of will be for you.  You will have close to everything prepped and ready to go.  You will feel confident and most importantly won’t be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying the night.

Plan ahead, make ahead and party hard!

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