When you host a party at home, …
We like hosting dinner and barbecue parties at home … I really feel like there’s no point decorating your house nicely and keeping them spotless if you don’t share it with other people. So, below are the things that my husband and I usually do before hosting a party, for your reference:
Two weeks before the day (or one week before, if it’s a small party)
1. Decide a theme
People host parties all the time, and one way to make your party unique and memorable is to theme it. The most recent barbecue party we hosted, for example, was an “Indonesian Barbecue Experience”, held between 4pm to 8pm so that the guests can enjoy the sunset view from the poolside barbecue, making the experience a wee bit similar to Jimbaran beach in Bali, where people enjoy seafood barbecue while enjoying the sunset.
2. Decide who to invite
Look at your venue (house, barbecue pit, or park, or restaurant) to see how many people will fit in that space. Don’t overcrowd the space … you want people to be able to walk around and mingle with different groups. Decide if you are only inviting the person, or can they bring a partner. Do you want the party to be family-friendly (people can bring kids), or an adult-only party.
Note that if you want to make it family-friendly, you may have to tweak the menu and hours a bit to cater for their sleeping and eating habit (kids don’t usually eat spicy food and drink a lot of juice!). Kids require space to run around or they will be restless and cranky, so I usually make my parties family-friendly only if I hold it outdoors or when I have a large indoor space where they can play board games or video games. Making the kids sit by their parents around a dining table for two hours is just cruel, I think 🙂
Make sure you specify that they need to RSVP at a certain time, so you know how much food to cook / order, and what to cook (again, menu will be different if you include kids).
3. Decide the menu
We have used Italian, Japanese, Indonesian, western grill, and Chinese food as the menu of our parties. Think about the parties that have been held recently which invited some or most of the people you invited. Some questions you need to ask yourself (and your guests too, some times):
- Would there be anyone requiring vegetarian food, halal food, no beef, no starch, no spicy food?
- Think about parties held recently which invited some or most of the people you invited. What kind of food was served? Did people like it? What was the items that was popular / unpopular? You may want to serve 1-2 items that are familiar, and serve something different for the rest
If you are cooking for the party, make sure you only serve what you know you can cook. If you want to try out a new recipe, please don’t make your dinner party a “food-tasting for new menu” event for your guests. Make sure you try out the new recipe two weeks before so you know that things won’t go wrong on the day.
In a recent party, I was determined to serve chocolate-covered banana for the kids, but I only started making them the day before, while I didn’t have any idea how to make them. The choco banana was a total flop – the chocolate refused to freeze, the bananas too mushy and kept falling off from the skewer, and after three hours, spilling chocolate all over the kitchen, my husband had to run to Coffee Bean to save the day with some cheesecakes!
4. Delegate, if you can
If your friends offer to help with preparation (e.g. buying drinks, making dessert, bringing a CD for background music, etc.), it can provide you with much-needed relief 🙂 The key to successful delegation is to know what they can do and assign something specific to them. Once you assign it to them, don’t duplicate their effort. Don’t make cheesecake when you already have a friend who would bring brownies 🙂
One week before the party (or 2-3 days before, in a small party)
1. Check your final RSVP list
If there’s anyone in your list that hasn’t confirmed or declined, call them to know if they would come. You don’t want last-minute surprises!
2. If your party is outdoor, start checking the weather forecast
By this time, you might want to make contingency plan just in case it rains or you see signs of thunderstorms. If the day is going to be hot and humid, make sure you prepare more cold drinks than usual 🙂 If chance of precipitation is high (like … more than 80%), you might want to use your apartment/house / function room in your condo complex instead.
Or, like me, you can start praying that God would bless you with the perfect weather for this party. It worked on me every single time! My wedding, my most recent birthday party, my honeymoon, all was blessed with beautiful weather 🙂
3. Start shopping, or confirm your final order to the caterer
If you’re cooking, this is the time to start shopping for ingredients and extra supplies (plates, cups, spoons, forks, etc.). If you’re ordering, confirm your final order to the caterer.
The day before
1. Clean up
If the party is at your house, or a function room / barbecue pit in your apartment complex, chances are some guests want to look around your house. Make sure it’s presentable … tidy it up, clean the floor, and (if you want to go the extra mile), order fresh flowers 🙂
2. Do last-minute shopping for fresh items
I wait until the last day to shop for vegetables and fresh fruits to make sure they’re freshly served on the day. The only exception would be avocado, which is usually pre-ripened and require 2-3 days before they’re ready to eat.
3. Think of final touches
This can be fresh flower arrangements, background music, different table arrangement, tent cards for each menu item, which plates and bowls you will use, candles, napkin folding, etc. that will make your party extra special even though it’s the same venue, the same guests, the same hosts, or even the same menu!
On the day
1. Clean yourself up
Even if you cook, don’t look trashy in front of your guests. Dress properly for the occasion and comb your hair. Put an apron over your clothes so they don’t get any marks.
2. Set the table, room, decoration and music (if any) before the guests arrive
If the guests help you with cleaning afterwards, that’s their choice. But don’t let them come to see a table that hasn’t been set up or a messy house. It gives an impression that you don’t really want to host them …
3. Enjoy the occasion
A happy, relaxed, host will make the guests feel relaxed. If the guests eat and all you do is running around serving them something, heating the soup, making extra ice cubes and cleaning, trust me … you make the guests feel guilty!
It looks like a lot of steps, but it’s not actually as hard as it sounds. A bit extra effort for a much better party …. definitely worth-trying, I think! 🙂
~ by elinski on March 9, 2009.