Hosting can be overwhelming, add kids to the mix and it’s even more! Party planning and hosting is something I enjoy very much. Many ask how I have the time or how I manage between motherhood, blogging and well, life. Here are some tips I use when party planning/hosting to make my life easier and actually enjoy those I have over.
1. Venue / Guest List
Choosing a date, venue, and guest list is obviously one of the main points of hosting. Depending on your venue, you want to know the maximum capacity of how many you can seat and host. No one wants a crammed room where everyone is on top of each other. Also be sure to add yourself to the list and leave room for an additional one or two guests in case you forget someone or for that additional plus one.
2. To Do List
This is one of the only ways I can function when hosting. I use the Notes App to write down all my To-Do’s. From the guest list, to the important details like theme, and more. Having a list helps check off the major items like Menu, Groceries, how many adults and children, etc. This will help you fall back on tasks that may have slipped your mind.
3. Menu planning
This is my favorite part. As someone who enjoys cooking and is a major foodie this is totally my element. Remember that guest list we made earlier?! Well once everyone confirms I go ahead and choose a menu fit for the guest list. Whether it be catering or cooking it myself I be sure to note any dietary restrictions, adult to kid ratio, and amount of people when planning a menu. Also another major factor to take into consideration is, if you’re cooking at home, what are great make ahead meal items and sides? Making sure I distribute items evenly between the stove, slow cooker and oven are key points. You don’t want a full oven made menu and then due to the amount of people can’t fit all the food day of in your oven.
This is the not so fun part. If hosting at home you want to make sure your home is presentable and clean. But with all the prep for a party it may get overwhelming just thinking about the cleaning. Hiring someone is always an option but if that’s not feasible a week ahead tackle a room a day. I always leave the main powder room and sitting area for the night before because those are the two most important places the guests will use and see. Also I try to prep a few items in advance to allow the kitchen not to get so messy days before. Tossing out extra garbage, wiping as you go are all major keys in not getting burnt out while planning and hosting.
5. Grocery List/order
Once you’ve made your menu you want to have a grocery list made. Again I use the Notes App because it’s easy and quick to use and I can go through it as I shop. I take it a step further and under each menu item I write the ingredients needed. Then make a mass list of all the items I need. This helps me see if I need doubles of certain ingredients like cilantro and lemon and allows me to be aware of splitting the items once bought. Also for those with busy schedules, grocery delivery or pickup is such a life saver.
If you’re not wanting to be part of a delivery service you can always choose free grocery pickup. It will truly cut the time of scrambling around the aisles in a grocery store.
6. Prep Menu
I don’t like leaving things for the last minute. I try to prep items like condiments, chop veggies for stews, marinate meats, assemble pies or desserts so they are ready for a quick cook or bake. Try to limit the tasks for day of because we all know unexpected items come about. Condiments and meats are great items to prep or marinate days in advance. You can even freeze your marinated meat a week in advance to just pull out the day of and grill or bake. Items like burgers, kebabs and BBQ chicken all freeze well. Desserts or items that are better fresh can be assembled the night before and cooked or baked day of. Of course items like salads should be cut day of but you can always pre-wash, dry and have ingredients ready in the fridge you know you’ll be using. Make the dressing in advance and have dry toppings ready, mixed in the pantry for a quick toss. This works for cakes and baked goods too. Freeze your cookie dough, bake your cake the night before, frost day of for freshness. Again get all the dirty work out of the way to make cleaning a breeze day of.
7. Table Setting
I like pulling out all my serve-ware, glassware and utensils for the party the night before. Making sure I have enough seats and plating for all my guests. If you’re using disposable make sure you keep a few extras in case an extra plate or bowl is needed. If you’re using your own dishes, be sure to wash and make sure your plates and utensils are ready and prepped for guests to use. Also keep in mind factors like kids plates, kids table or bowls for items like soup.
8. Food station
This is another task I leave for the night before. I make sure to pull out the platters needed for food. Prep menu items that need to be baked in their platters and set in the fridge ready to go. Condiments and dressings dished into their bowls or bottles, ready for a quick serving. Pitchers pulled for drinks, serving utensils ready next to their assigned platters and table linens and mats readily placed. Also I look at where I’ll be placing the drinks and hot tea, where the food will be served or if it’s being served family style at the table or buffet style and the dessert.
9. Final To Do List
This is a final run down to make sure all things are in play and everything is set. Usually I go over this the night before. Things I know I’ll forget or still need to do, I make note of. I take little sticky notes and write down where each menu item will go on the table. This helps me in remember if I have something left in the fridge that I forgot to pull out day of, or simple tasks like take out the garbage, make sure bathroom is wiped down, set extra toilet paper. Usually it’s a bright obnoxious color in view or stuck on a mirror to remind me, and my kids know the drill, they search around looking for Post It’s and will come back and tell me if they find one like a scavenger hunt. LOL
And lastly Enjoy! You threw this event for your friends or family and prepped for this event to share the beautiful company. Using these tasks above can help ease the chaos during the party and allow you to socialize and enjoy your hard work. Things go unplanned but at this point just go with the flow and don’t let it ruin your mood. I’m sure your guests will appreciate all the effort regardless of the outcome.
Zakiya is a spice enthusiast, recipe developer, food stylist and lover of all things food. Shes best known for her East meets West fusions, where mixing her Pakistani heritage with her birth and upbringing in the States gives a fusion of what normally would not be paired. Samosa Pot Pie, Chicken 65 Pizza, Kashmiri Chai Cheesecake, Gulab Jamun Cheesecake and Ras Malai Cake are just a few names of her fusions and were truly inspired by the classics. Always being passionate about art may have helped with this new found medium of food, post becoming a mother to 3 wonderful boys, and has truly given her an outlet to continue creating. She’s paving her own way through life and well, blending her own unique spice!