Cleaning! Decorations! Invitations! Food! If hosting a party is on your agenda this month, you probably have a lot on your mind. But a little planning and organization, plus some helpful hints, will make your holiday event a merry success.
We’ve blogged about organizing your kitchen for the holidays, but how do you plan for a specific event? First, consider making a to-do list that will help you prepare your home. List-makers swear by the habit of organizing to-do tasks on paper. Items for your list might include:
- Guests: Who will be on the invitation list? Figure this out first, because the number will drive many of your other decisions, including which rooms the party will inhabit, how much food you’ll need, and whether you’ll require extra furnishings.
- Food: List the appetizers, entrees, and desserts you plan to serve, and the ingredients you’ll need to prepare each dish. And don’t forget beverages; you’ll want age-appropriate drinks for children, sodas for adults who prefer not to drink alcohol, and the alcoholic beverages of your choice for those who enjoy something stronger (of course, have the number of a taxi service readily available so that no one who overdoes it drives home).
- Decorations: Do you have a special tablecloth stored in a drawer? Are your holiday decorations packed away in the attic? List the things you’ll need to decorate for the party, and check off each item as you retrieve it and put it in place.
- Cleaning tasks: If you’ll need to call in professional cleaners before the party, set up an appointment now for a date just before the party (there’s no point in having the house cleaned two weeks in advance if it will simply get dirty again). If you’re planning to manage the cleaning on your own, set aside a few hours on the day before your party, and be prepared with the cleaning products you’ll need.
- Furniture: Will you need extra seating or fold out tables? Make sure you have the furnishings you need, or can rent or borrow what’s missing.
“Always Order Dessert”, a blog that features “inspired ideas for entertaining,” offers these added organizational tips (for more detail, visit the blog):
- Decide on the date early so that guests have the best chance of reserving the date. Send a “save the date” email or note as soon as possible to alert friends and family about the event.
- Be clear about the nature of the event and who is invited so that guests won’t be confused about what to wear, or whether they can bring children, a date, or a group of friends.
- High-tech tip: early in the day, during the middle of the week, is a good time to send email invitations. If you send invitations at a time when people aren’t accessing their email, your message could get lost in a long list of emails when they return. Many people use the website Evite.com to send online invitations.
- Ask guests to commit with a “yes” or “no” on the RSVP, so that you won’t be stuck with a lot of “maybes” that will make it more difficult for you to plan. Be firm about your RSVP date so that people won’t leave you hanging with non-responses.
- Contact people who respond with a “yes” to express your delight that you will be seeing them soon. Nice touch.
- If a friend or family member offers to help, accept graciously. People enjoy feeling like they are part of your event. The options are many; you could ask them to bring a special food item or beverage, to arrive early to help set up, or lend an extra table or tablecloth. Of course, be sure to return anything you’ve borrowed after the party.
- Offer easy access to needed information. If you’re inviting people by email, include links to directions or public transportation information, recommend a nearby parking garage or explain where there is on-street parking, and list hotels for out-of-town guests.
Once the invitations have been sent and the RSVPs are received, your house is clean and organized, your decorations are up, the food is ready to go, and the doorbell starts to ring, it’s time to enjoy the party. Have fun!
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