Thirty minutes until party time, and this is the scene we have: Kitchen counters are covered end to end with wrappers, dirty dishes, and an even dusting of flour. Drinks aren’t made, appetizers aren’t finished, and my hair is one frizzy mess. I begin doing my usual dance, running from one thing to another like a stressed out cartoon character when Steph finally shakes me (figuratively, anyway) and tells me to go and fix my hair.
Somehow in the five minutes before 7:00, we pull it together. Guests arrive, and soon we have a drink in their hands and apps on their plates. People are laughing, chatting, and chowing–signs of a good party.
But there are lessons to be learned here, friends, lessons we should have already learned with all the events we have. Here are my notes, written mostly for myself, but available to all crazy party-throwers out there.
- Serve what’s tried and true. You can whip up all the gourmet food you want, but the fact remains that people love their simple comfort food. We had three appetizers and three desserts, and guess which two plates were licked clean by the end of the night? 7-Layer Bean Dip and Chocolate Chip Cookies. My mini chocolate cupcakes with vanilla-salted caramel buttercream? Hardly a one taken. Steph’s beautiful individual mint cheesecakes? She packaged a dozen to bring back home. Even bruschetta and bacon-wrapped asparagus were jealous of the attention the dip was getting! Lesson learned: chocolate chips and tortilla chips never let you down.
- Get your nails done professionally a few days before. You say it every time: “I’ll just paint them myself the night before the party.” You never do, and you never will. And then you’ll be kicking yourself when your dress and make-up look great but your nails say that you’ve been living in the woods for awhile. It will undoubtedly be the best $15 you spend all week.
- Enlist a few friends to contribute a dish to the menu. You may not believe this, but sometimes it’s polite to allow others to help. For some people, showing up to a party empty-handed is just the worst. You know which friends love cooking and baking…let them in on the fun.
- Read the recipe–the entire recipe, beginning to end–and prepare your ingredients before you begin cooking. How many times must you go through the pain of realizing you’re out of eggs or low on powdered sugar before this one sinks in?
- You only have one oven. You seem to forget this each time you host a dinner. One oven.
- Prep everything you possibly can the day before. Chop veggies, mince garlic, sift flour, organize ingredients, set the music, swap tea-lights, make frosting, hang garland. You want to enjoy the party just as much as your guests, don’t you? Keep the day-of as easy as possible by doing 95% the night before.
- Stay away from Pinterest at least 72 hours before the party.
- Be nice to the people who live with you. Your party will be over in an evening, but you’ll see them the next morning.
- Life happens, and sometimes people have to cancel. They may even forget. Accept it. They still love you even if they don’t make it to your party.
- Remember: You are throwing a party for others, not for yourself. If you keep this in mind, then it becomes less about you (and trying to be perfect!) and more about creating a wonderful night for the people you love. Lighten up, have a cookie, and enjoy the evening!
|A few favorites from our Favorite Things Party!
We’re trying to take these lessons to heart in the next year! We know you may one or two to add, so please share!