From time to time, I do something and I assume everyone knows how to do it. Well, I’m sure my experienced wife and mom friends *do* know, but I realize there are a few younger readers out there who would benefit from me NOT assuming they know everything I do.
How to plan a party (or other event): Plan backwards.
On the day of the party, you want to have the following:
- A clean house
- Fun appropriate to the occasion (presents, games, music)
I will let you sort #5 out on your own, I’m not so awesome at that.
Cleaning: you know how much dirt your particular house tracks in, how quickly it goes from “spotless” to “here we go again”. That’s going to determine your cleaning schedule. Generally you can do a deep cleaning a week or so before the party and come back the day or so before and do a basic re-cleaning, with day-of tidying up and perfecting. The less you leave to the day of, the better!
If you’re planning to have your in-laws stay with you for a week, do yourself a favor and clean the house from top to bottom a month in advance. Fold the off-season towels in the towel cupboard, wash the top shelf of your kitchen cabinet, etc. Most events won’t require that level of spotlessness. But get the bathrooms, the floors (hint: people DO judge your housecleaning on the state of your floors), the kitchen in good shape. Out of place objects don’t squick people out. Mold in the bathroom does. Don’t have a “shove it” room, unless you’ve decided to throw a kegger *tonight*. It will come back to haunt you. You can store stuff in a room, but there’s a difference between “I don’t want this in the way” and “I can’t deal with this!”. The voice of experience…
Decorations: This you’ll mostly do on the day-of. However, you want to have your decorations acquired and sorted out *before* the day of, unless we’re talking about an evening get together and fresh flowers. Figure out what you want to do and how much *before* you get to the party supply store. This will make your budget happier.
Food: A elaborate holiday party with lots of special baked goods? You can (and should) start baking a month in advance. This is why you have a freezer. Candy, likewise. Anything that can be made in advance, make it in advance. Do veggie prep, make dips, cut up fruit, bake your cake – the day before the party. (You may well wish to *ice* your cake the day of, depending on ingredients, storage, and space issues).
Beverages: The beverages that can be purchased, purchase a week or two in advance. The beverages that you’ll make are probably going to be day-of kind of things. (Sometimes you can make the concentrates before and just mix with water and ice on the day of – I’ve done lemonade this way. Saves you precious space in the fridge).
Things to keep in mind: Your energy level, how much space you have to store food & drink, how much space for people (and where they’ll eat if it’s an eating party), what people will eat ON, your budget.
Anyone can throw an amazing party if they’ll plan it out beforehand! Or at least feed people. 😉 I’ll leave the fun to you.