As the host for a social gathering, like a dinner or birthday party, you want to be able to enjoy the celebrations as much as your guests. But planning and hosting an event can get overwhelming with its seemingly endless to-do lists. Luckily, we have some great tips for planning a get-together without the stress. Put on your party planning hat and read on for five of the best ways to plan your celebration with ease.
The sooner you start planning your get-together, the better. Scrambling to put together a party in a week’s time is no easy task and can produce a lot of undo stress, not only for you, but possibly for your guests who might get caught up in your frazzled energy. Make it easy on yourself and start planning the party at least one month ahead of time. That gives you plenty of hours to think about the theme, create a menu, invite guests, and get everything together.
Nail down the details by creating lists for each party planning task. Make a to-do list with things like “decide on a theme,” “invite guests,” “create the menu.” Real Simple has a party planning checklist to help you get started. Create a separate list for everything you need to shop for including food and decorations. Lastly, make a guest list with the names, a place to check off their RSVP, and any food restrictions or other requests they might have. Jotting down the details will help keep your head clear and focused.
Ideally, you will want to send your guests the invitations about three weeks before the event. This gives them plenty of time to check their calendars and respond. Whether you want to send an electronic invite or opt for good old snail mail is up to you and how you think it is easiest to get in touch with your guests. Electronic invitations are available through places like Evite and Paperless Post. If you want to send paper invites, check online stationery shops like Minted and Etsy or create your own with paper stock and embellishments that can be found at your local craft stores.
Whether you are having an intimate backyard gathering or a summer soiree for 15 guests, you will want to keep things as simple as possible. That means creating an easy menu so you are not locked away in the kitchen. Think one-pot meals of chicken and roasted vegetables and a small side salad. Even a three-course meal can be simplified with easy appetizers, an entree with side dish, and a simple, but delicious dessert that can feed a crowd. For drinks, stock up on beer and wine so no one feels obligated to play bartender.
When it comes to decor ideas, the easiest way to plan what to use and how things will look is by deciding on a theme for the party. A theme gives you just enough boundaries to work within so you do not feel overwhelmed by all the options. For example, the party could be Fiesta themed, with a colorful Mexican table setting, a fajita plate, and margaritas. Or it could be a birthday tea party where you dress the table in traditional tea fare and serve finger sandwiches. A theme creates a focus, which makes for less-stress planning.
The more you can knock out the day before the event, the easier and smoother the party will flow. Decorate the space, set the table the night before, and prepare any food that can be refrigerated overnight. Make sure everything is stocked and in place so you are not scrambling to find or replace something on party day. Also, give yourself at least an hour before the party to freshen up, make sure everything is ready, and take a breath.
If you take these top five tips to heart when planning your next social gathering, you will be sure to enjoy the festivities just as much as your guests will. Not only will they enjoy it, they will be impressed with the sheer grace you used to put it all together and you will be a stress less, happy host!
Have you ever planned a social gathering? Share your best planning tip with us in the comments. Thinking about planning one? Let us know your ideas. We’d love to hear them!