The Secret to Throwing a Successful Party
Six Steps to a Perfect Party
Whether you’re hosting a group for cocktails or a formal sit-down dinner, the preparation stages for all parties tend to be similar. These time-tested suggestions will help you manage all of the details beautifully.
1. Settle on the Style
When deciding on the type of party you want to throw, assess your budget and the occasion. Do you want to splurge on a few good friends with a four-course meal? Or are you more interested in inviting everyone you know for a spirited cocktail party to kick off the evening? Perhaps you want to meet in the middle, with an open house that friends and family can drop in on over the course of a few hours.
2. Make a Guest List
Once you’ve chosen the type of party, make a list of the people you’d like to invite. Drop invitations in the mail, or call or email your invitees, preferably a month beforehand. If you’re throwing a holiday party, you’ll want to let your guests know about the gathering well in advance (before they get booked up).
3. Choose a Menu
When creating the menu, consider how the food will be offered. A soup is great for a sit-down dinner, when it can be served immediately, while a room-temperature vegetable dish is just right for a buffet. To make the menu more manageable, balance items that can be made in advance with those that require last-minute attention. Also, this may not be the time to tackle more than a few new recipes — include some tried-and-true dishes for peace of mind. Once you’ve chosen your menu, assemble the recipes in a binder for easy reference.
4. Establish a Timeline
Plan the order in which you’ll make specific recipes by starting with the serving time, and then working backward. Be sure to include any components that can be made ahead (including those that can be frozen), noting how they are to be stored and what to do when you are ready to proceed with the recipe. This step should be done at the outset, as it may help you plan the menu — perhaps you’ll add more dishes that can be prepared ahead, or that allow you to cook them at the same time (say, one on the stove and another in the oven).
5. Strategize Your Shopping
Read through all the recipes and make lists of ingredients, organiz¬ing them by those that can be bought well in advance (or that you already have in your pantry, such as flour and sugar), and those that should be purchased closer to the event, including fresh produce and fish. Note the equipment and tools that are called for. Similarly, make a list of the serving pieces, glasses, flatware, and table linens you’ll need. Do this well in advance so you’ll have time to buy (or rent) any necessary items.
6. Consider Cleanup
Make a plan for clearing the table and holding dirty dishes during the party. Start the evening with an empty dishwasher, and designate a spot in the kitchen (or nearby) to store used plates and glasses; soak flatware and serving spoons in a large bowl (or other attractive container, if in plain view). This allows helpful guests to lend a hand without having to ask.
Visit MarthaStewart.com for: Hundreds of Party Menus