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Hospitality comes easy to some, others not as much. Regardless of the occasion, a party in your home is a great way to get everyone together at the table to enjoy a wonderfully-cooked meal. But there’s more that goes into this besides the menu.
If you have a small gathering coming up, whether it's close family or a few friends, you’ll want to be prepared. Though you’ll do much of the work in the kitchen, your home should be ready to host. Here are a few tips to help you plan the perfect party.
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1. Write Down Your Plan
With any successful party, it always starts with a plan. Write down your guest list and make note of who will be in attendance. You’ll also want to include any dietary restrictions such as vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free. Be sure to make accommodations in your menu, including these options.
Begin to write down what you’ll be making and each ingredient you’ll need. It’s a good idea to have at least one main course, a vegetarian option, a few sides, appetizers and desserts to complete your dinner party. This may sound like a lot of food, but I have no doubt your guests will be coming over hungry and ready to enjoy. Don’t forget the non-food related items too! Plates, utensils and even décor can be included on this list.
Next, you’ll want to make a numbered list of tasks to complete
- Food preparation
Mark them in order from top priority to least important. That way, if you’re not able to make it to the end of the list in time, it won't jeopardize the success of your party.
2. Clean Your Home
Having a clean home is probably one of the first steps in preparing for a perfect party. While you may not have to clean every room in the home, consider areas where people may be gathering. This can include the kitchen, bathroom, dining room, family room or basement. Spend extra time in these areas, especially if you plan on using any of them as alternative dining areas.
“Moving clutter off of any furniture in the dining area such as bills or the kids’ homework will not only create an attractive atmosphere but can also clear up serving space,” said Emily Hoefler, kitchen and bath specialist at Renovations Group Inc. “Also, moving unnecessary furniture to another room can open up more room to put the leaf
If you’re feeling pressed for time, you may want to consider hiring a cleaner to help out. They can make your home look party ready and give you one less task to stress about. The average cost to hire a maid service is $157, with most homeowners spending between $122 and $167.
3. Stock Up On Kitchen Essentials
Avoid running out of the one small ingredients you may need. Make sure all your spices are full and you have some extra garlic in the fridge. Don’t forget about condiments too! This is a must if you plan on grilling for your dinner party.
4. Prep The Party Area
It’s likely you may have to rearrange certain parts of your home to make it a place where people can easily gather and not feel crowded. “Have a flow to the area in which you’re hosting,” Hoefler said. ”Know where you’ll put coats and shoes as guests come in, such as a front hall closet, and then have an area set up, whether a bar or a space on the counter, where you can easily offer guests drinks.”
Much of the arranging will be done in the dining room. You’ll want to be sure you have a plate and place setting for everyone. Name cards at the table not only help guests figure out where to sit but can also be a unique touch to the décor. I love these fun ideas from Brit & Co that you can DIY!
5. Create A Beautiful Centerpiece
While you may have décor in other areas of the home, your table centerpiece will surely be the focal point. Depending on the occasion, you’ll want to decorate based on the theme. If you plan on crafting the centerpiece yourself, read DIY Table Centerpiece Ideas for more inspiration!
6. Determine How You’ll Serve Food & Drinks
As mentioned before, the flow to a party is extremely important. This is especially true when it comes to serving food and drinks. A good place to start is if people will be getting their own food, like a buffet, or family style, where it’s served on the table.
“For easy preparation, I suggest staging the food in a way that makes it easy to serve whether buffet or sit-down style,” Hoefler said. “Investing in a stove top cover is a great way to convert the cooking area into extra serving space.”
For a casual gathering, sometimes a buffet is best. However, you’ll want to arrange food in a way that makes it easy for people to start filling their place once they enter the room. Start with utensils in the front with any salad or cold foods next. Then place the main course right in the middle followed by any sides. Finally, if you’re including some small desserts, the end of the buffet is a great place to include those.
7. Sit Back & Enjoy
With all the party planning and hosting, it can be difficult to remember that you should take time to sit and enjoy the gathering. It might even be helpful for you to write a reminder down in your initial planning to sit and enjoy. Hoefler even suggests planning for easy clean up to do once guests have left.
“The most important thing about having guests for a dinner party is to enjoy having them there,” Hoefler said. ” Make preparation easy on yourself so you can enjoy the company of friends and family while it lasts. Save the cleanup for after they go, and have a good time with your guests.
Make your home a truly welcoming space for your next party. Having a plan will help! Start by writing items down and tackling them one by one. But don’t forget to enjoy having friends and family nearby.
Looking for more party preparation ideas? Read How To Prepare Your Kitchen For A Party.