Between holiday celebrations and birthday parties for the kids, it seems like we are almost always throwing a party of some sort at our house. Also, with three kids running around, the task of keeping a house clean can often seem like an impossibility!!!
That’s why preparing for a party can be an extremely daunting task! But, no worries! I am here to share my fool-proof guide to throwing a party that you can actually ENJOY instead of stressing over.
The most important thing to remember is that you want to be able to enjoy your time with your family and friends while they are visiting. For this reason, make things as EASY ON YOURSELF as possible!!! Trying to do too much on the day of the party will have you exhausted and frazzled by the time your guests arrive. Trying to do too much during the party will take you away from your guests, and you’ll miss out on all of the fun!
So, how do you prevent yourself from being a stressed out, scatterbrained mess when your guests arrive? It’s simple with my step-by-step guide to party planning!
The key is to do a little bit each day so as not to become overwhelmed, and so you don’t run out of time to get things done. Here’s the timeline that I follow:
- 3-5 days before the party: DECLUTTER
- 2 days before the party: PREP THE FOOD
- 1 day before the party: CLEAN THE COMMON SPACES
- Day of the party: CLEAN BATHROOMS AND KITCHEN, BAKE OFF THE FOOD
Now, to unpack these 4 steps to the perfect, stress-free party! Let’s start at the beginning.
When we have a party, it is generally on a Saturday. I start sometime between Monday and Wednesday (depending on how messy the house is) to declutter the areas that will be used for the party. One of my secret tips is to always have AT LEAST one room of the house closed off to the party guests. That way, if you don’t get all of your decluttering done before party day, you can throw everything in laundry baskets and shove it in that room. (*Full disclosure… I have 2 rooms that I use for this purpose with each party! Ain’t no shame in my game!!!)
Now that the house is decluttered, let’s focus on the food. I have a SUPER EASY and SUPER QUICK go-to recipe that I serve at pretty much every party… Pulled BBQ Chicken.
This may sound like something that has to cook all day, but it honestly couldn’t be easier!!! I literally open a few cans of pre-cooked chicken breast meat, dump some BBQ sauce on top and stir. I place some sandwich buns next to it, and THAT’S IT!!! And, yes, you did hear me right when I said “canned chicken!”
Now before you start freaking out about serving canned meat at a party, take this into consideration… I will only buy canned chicken that doesn’t have any weird or unwelcome ingredients added to it. The brand that I buy only contains 3 ingredients: chicken breast meat, water and salt. That’s it, and I’m ok with that!
In actuality, I have gotten more compliments on that dish than on any other dish I have served at a party! Many of my guests assume that I spent all day cooking it because the flavor of the BBQ sauce is so rich. (I use KC Masterpiece hickory brown sugar flavor.) The point is, IT IS TOTALLY OK to take some help from the grocery store when throwing a party!!! No one can do it all, so give yourself a break!!!
As for the rest of the food, I try to choose a menu that can be prepped in advance for the most part. I get all of the food into these foil trays so that all I have to do the day of the party is throw the trays in the oven to warm them or bake them off. I have made baked ziti, mac n cheese, chili, baked beans, meatballs and many other dishes using this method. It makes party day so easy!
The foil trays also make clean up a breeze! You can actually pay attention to your guests instead of scrubbing a mile high pile of crusty casserole dishes after dinner!
I also prep the cold foods such as salads, veggie trays, fruit trays and meat and cheese boards in the same manner, although sometimes I wait until the night before the party to do those so that they stay fresher. You can slice and arrange these foods on the serving dish of your choice, cover them with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge until party time. (This is when having a second fridge in the basement really comes in handy!)
Doing most of the food prep in advance will also ensure that you don’t have an overflowing sink of dirty pots and pans to deal with on the day of the party! That stuff can all be cleaned up in advance.
Moving on to the day before the party, it’s time to clean the common spaces. This means dusting and vacuuming the living room, dining room, hallways, stairs and game room. I also use this day to plan how the food will be laid out on the tables and counters to ensure that I have enough space for everything.
Be sure to include space for plates at the beginning of your buffet line and napkins and utensils at the end! A fun little basket like this is perfect for keeping these things organized in a small space! I just use disposable cups to hold the cutlery and tuck some napkins into the sides of the basket.
I set out the bowls that will be used for chips and snacks, and I set the snacks (still in their original packaging) inside the bowls so they can be dumped into the bowls just before the party starts. Hint: Save the bags so that the leftover snacks can be put back into them after the party.
Ok, we’re here!!! It’s the day of the party! If you’ve followed my instructions so far, today’s prep shouldn’t be too time consuming or difficult. All you have left to do today is to clean the bathroom(s) for your guests, wipe down the kitchen, and get your already prepped food into the oven to warm it up.
Again, the most important part of any party is getting to enjoy quality time with your family and friends. Whatever happens, make interacting with your guests your first priority, and don’t get frazzled when things go wrong. Remember that most people do not attend parties for the purpose of judging the host. If they do, that’s their problem, not yours!!!
Your guests want to see you, laugh with you, talk with you and enjoy your company. Give them the chance to do so by following these simple guidelines, and ENJOY THE DAY!!!
Questions or comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to chat with you!