Now, it’s time for the next step, scheduling your tasks. Entertaining isn’t any fun if you spend the days leading up to the event stressing out about everything. And why invite your friends over if you’ll be spending the entire event running around? You’re the host, not the caterer!
The key to having fun at your own parties is to make lists. I make five lists for every party. It’s OK! Take a deep breath. Put your head between your knees. It’s not as bad as it sounds. You’ve already done two lists. The first list is the list of invitees. The second list is the menu.
My third list is the shopping list. There is nothing more stressful than starting to make the main course and discovering that you are missing a critical ingredient. Use the recipes to make sure that you haven’t missed anything. And don’t forget to include things like decorations, napkins, plates, cups, utensils, etc.
The fourth list is my task list. I write down everything I have to do, from picking up supplies to cleaning the house to cooking. Once that list is done, I divide up the tasks by day, starting about a week out. If you have help in throwing the party (a friend, spouse, etc.), divide the tasks between you so duties are clear. I try to do things as early as possible in order to reduce stress. For example, you can buy paper goods, beer, wine, soda, and non-perishable foods in advance. You need to allot sufficient time to defrost anything that needs defrosting. By tidying a little each day, there’s no need for a cleaning marathon the day before the party, leaving you too tired to enjoy.
My fifth and final list is the serving list. I look at my menu and I decide what bowls, platters, and serving utensils I’ll need for each dish. The night before the party, I set the table so that everything I need is right at hand. It keeps me from digging through cabinets at the last minute or from standing in the middle of my kitchen with a pot filled with hot soup and no place to pour it.\
It may seem pathologically organized to make so many lists, but it really will take the stress out of entertaining. Trust me.