Make The List – Check it Twice!
Starting from the beginning with a well thought out entertaining plan will determine everything from your menu to your choice of music.
Once you’ve determined your menu, take a few moments to write down each and every ingredient you’ll need for each course. Any event planner or caterer will tell you – staying organized is key! You’ve got a lot of things to think about: cooking, decorating, invitations, seating arrangements, games. It’ll be far easier and less stressful if you take a deep breath and take the time to organize. The last thing you want is to run back to the grocery store two or three times because you forgot a small ingredient!
On a separate document, make a list of every decor item you need. Put a checkmark next to any items you already own.
Most event coordinators will tell you: Begin planning early. Give yourself at least a month to plan. Here’s a simple checklist of your timeline for planning a dinner party.
A Month Before Your Event
- Check Pinterest for unique themes
- Brainstorm desired atmosphere and decor items
- Create guest list
- Begin planning menu
Three Weeks Before Your Event
- Design and send invitations
- Determine theme
- Create a shopping list of required decor items
- Begin shopping for decorations
Two Weeks Before Your Event
- Guests RSVP; finalize the list of attendees
- Check dietary needs for guests
- Create seating arrangements
- Finalize menu
- Create a shopping list for ingredients
One Week Before Your Event
- Choose music; begin creating a playlist
- Create name cards if needed
- Create ice-breaker question cards if needed
- Deep clean house – Baseboards, lighting fixtures, etc.
Three Days Before Your Event
- Use finalized shopping list; buy ingredients
- Purchase alcoholic beverages – wine, champagne, beer, or cocktail mixes.
- Purchase bottle-openers and corkscrews for opening wine.
The Day Before Your Event
- Prepare as much of the menu as you can, so you can easily heat and serve the next day.
- Trash out, restrooms clean
- Begin decorating and laying out centerpieces, tablecloths, candles, flowers.
- Hook-up playlist to make sure music plays
- Go ahead and set your table as much as possible — one less thing to worry about tomorrow.
The Day Of Your Event
- Prepare any remaining menu items
- Warm-up previously-prepared foods
- Layout hors-d’oeuvres and drinks for cocktail hour
- Arrange all dishes for the prepared courses in the order you’ll need to serve them
- Set the mood by lighting candles, turning on your playlist, and staging your home for guests.
- Finally, get dressed for your holiday gathering
Ideally, all of this early-preparation will leave very little work for you to do on the actual day of your holiday gathering. Be sure to take some time for yourself. Drink a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, and take a few moments to enjoy your space before your guests arrive.