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Holiday Entertaining Check List

santa reading list

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
reading a book by a fire

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.