Having successfully made it through my six hour drive on Thursday (read my tips for surviving long car journeys here) it's been non-stop preparation for the reason we travelled in the first place - a giant family party tomorrow! There will be about 25 guests from three different branches of the family, and it just so happens that it's my side of the family hosting this year's party!
Serving 25 people is quite a task, but I think we'll cope. It's at my aunt and uncle's house and my aunt (Jenny) is super organised. Spreadsheets and everything - I've never seen anything like it! All of the preparation seems to be going well so far and I think all of us are just really looking forward for the party to start!
Jenny's spreadsheets and recipe printouts
Anyway, as our planning and preparation seems to be going so well so far I thought I'd share some of my tips on how to host a party!
Number of guests
Knowing how many guests you have in advance helps when it come to planning food quantities (my dad is notorious for his extreme overcatering!). It also means you can figure out space and seating, particularly if you're serving food that needs to be eaten at a table. Having an idea of the number of guests also means you can have plans for how to deal with different weather conditions, especially if you’re planning on having a mostly outdoor party!
Contact details for guests
This seems pretty obvious and you'll likely already have a way of contacting all of your guests (how else would you invite them to your party in the first place?!) but it's always a good idea to double check. Email is a pretty traditional way of contacting, but group chats on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp also work too. Basically having some way in which you can share plans, timings, dress code etc is very useful. It also means your guests have a way of contacting you in case of a last minute cancellation!
Again, this one might seem pretty obvious, but is actually forgotten relatively often! Knowing the dietary requirements of all of your guests (whether their diet is by choice or due to allergens) makes it much easier for everyone involved. Although it might make food a little more complicated, it saves loads of hassle when you find out one of your guests, for example, is gluten-free and has a nut allergy. This keeps everyone happy so it’s definitely worth doing!
chocolate avocado cupcakes (old photo but I'm baking a new batch for tomorrow!)
Teamwork is dependent on if you're planning your party with anyone else, but if you are then teamwork is definitely crucial. Sharing tasks when preparing for and hosting the party can significantly reduce stress and make sure that everything runs smoothly!
Good communication comes pretty much hand in hand with teamwork. You need to be able to communicate with everyone involved in the party - guests, other hosts and anyone else who’s helping! Basically just keep communicating!
my outfit for the family party last summer
Knowing a basic dress code is good for everyone as it means there's less of a fear of overdressing or underdressing. Planning your outfit ahead of time when you're hosting a party can make things easier on the day as it's one less thing to worry about!
Whether or not you decorate for a party is optional, but simple decorations like balloons or banners can help to boost the party atmosphere and make it more fun. Decorations come down to personal preference but I think they can look really cute and it’s actually pretty easy to get relatively cheap decorations too!
From some of my previous posts you've probably figured out I'm quite a big fan of music! Again, sorting music for a party comes down to personal preference but I think it makes a major difference to have something playing (even just in the background)! Music breaks the awkward silences when the first guests arrive and can really help the party to get going by lifting people's moods etc (as long as the music is actually good in the first place)!
mini pavlovas with berries (another old photo but there's a giant pavlova for tomorrow)
Know your menu
Knowing your menu is vital when it comes to doing food preparation. First off, you need to know the volume of required to serve the number of guests. Then you can plan a few dishes and the quantities for those dishes (bear in mind any dietary requirements as mentioned before). After that, you've somehow got to create an enormous shopping list of all of the ingredients for your recipes compiled together (unless you order food all pre-made). If you're making the food yourself then you've likely got a ton of food prep to do before even cooking stuff on the day.
You’ve got to figure if any dishes can be made in advance and then frozen (remember to actually take the out of the freezer with time to defrost!) and which ingredients can be bought in advance (or alternatively need to be fresh and bought just a day or two before the event). So yeah, if you're doing a proper meal for your party there can be quite a lot of preparation, planning and cooking involved!
Particularly if your party is in the heat of summer, having sufficient drinks (and ice!) is really important! Having a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is a must (particularly with drivers and children) and it’s probably a good idea to have both still and sparkling drinks too. My main advice with drinks is that it’s probably better to have too many than too few!
a fancy drink with edible flowers from the family party last summer
So, it’s probably pretty obvious that the key for making it all work is organisation, as these tips likely won't work if you aren't a little organised in the first place. Even if your organisation isn't up to Jenny's level it still makes a difference - just do what works best for you! I’m so excited for the family party tomorrow and I hope it all goes well - we’ve been so busy the last few days with getting everything in place for the party. My plan is just to enjoy it as much as possible! Check back in a couple of days for an update on how it turned out in the end!
I hope these tips are helpful for you in some way or another. Good luck if you're hosting your own party any time soon and most of all, make sure you enjoy it!
What do you do to plan and prepare for hosting a party?