When planning a party, for some of us it can be more stressful than others. As we send out our party invitations party invitations Custom Invitations, Cards, Stationery & Personalized Gifts – PurpleTrail for some , we imagine ourselves stress free, floating around the room making sure all our guests are happy and having fun. For others, the anxiety rises and we can’t figure out how we are going have 30 people in our home and have it run smoothly. In reality, we typically find ourselves somewhere in the middle. We are often caught running into the kitchen cursing the ice maker for jamming up or realizing that you just ran out of cups in between being a gracious, collected host. I really believe entertaining is an art. Like most everything in life, it is about balance. Here are ten tips to help you prepare yourself and your house for an event so you really can be the ultimate host(ess) with less stress.

1. Make Friends with Time

The old adage of failure to plan is planning to fail can be true when throwing a party. An impromptu dinner party for 4 is a lot different than birthday party Birthday Invitations, Kids Birthday Invitations, First Birthday Invitations or holiday gathering. So, as with all rules, there are exceptions. Generally, if you want to create less stress learn to let time work for you, not against you by allowing adequate time to plan for the time of party or even you are throwing. Don’t try to throw a baby shower tomorrow. Give yourself time to shop for supplies, create any party favors or activities, and time to clean your house. Also, don’t try to plan too many things in a short time span. You can’t be everywhere or everything to everyone all the time (yes, I am talking to you). You’ll find that there is so much you can do ahead of time (food prep, decorating etc.) that there is no need to be stressing once the party begins.

2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Use your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your friends and family keep telling you they are always here for you, so call in a favor. Get your kids to help with household chores, send your spouse to the store for last minute items so you can continue cooking (not that you’ll have any because you allowed adequate time; see #1). If you are struggling with decorations, ask your artistic, creative friends to help. Think about who you know and what their strengths are and as them to lend their expertise. They’ll be touched that you think so highly of them and will enjoy helping you create a fabulous party experience.

3. To Gourmet or Not to Gourmet…

If you aren’t a really whiz in the kitchen, pick easy, make ahead recipes. Even if you are a French trained chef, it’s still a good idea to select menu items that can be prepped ahead of time. That way all you’re doing the day off are finishing touches, not creating something from start to finish. There are so many recipes that portions of can be made ahead of time. Lots of chopping can also be done a day or so ahead. Also, dust and wash all your serving ware the night before and lay it out on the table. Pitchers and platters often collect a layer of dust even when stored in the cupboard. If you prep the dishes the day before, you’ll find it much easier to get things plated and ready to go for the party.

4. Ambiance

People’s moods are very affected by their environment. Choose appropriate lighting (low light for a cocktail party, ample lighting for kid’s party with arts and crafts etc.) Use music to help you out too. If you want the tone to be soft and mellow, playing the new Metallica album probably isn’t a good idea.

5. 911 Stash

911, it’s an emergency – we are out of crackers. It’s a good idea to keep snacks that you would serve to guests in the pantry in case you run low on food or burn one of your dishes. Things like gourmet cookies, biscotti, muffins, nuts, even popcorn could do in a pinch. Also keep plenty of beverages on hand in case you run low.

6. Circulate

You know how at weddings, the happy couple works to make sure they talk to each guest, embrace this idea at your own party. Once you’ve set the last dish out, circulate the room. Be sure you introduce people so they feel more comfortable. Your guests made an effort to come and see you and celebrate, not brush past your backside as you work in the kitchen.

7. Fill ‘er Up

Keep an eye on people’s beverages. Offer to fill them up before they are completely drained. It keeps people from having to leave conversations or activities the might be enjoying at your party. Be sure to offer a place to “rest” before guest’s who may have over indulged head home. It also helps to keep a local cab company’s number handy.

8. Strategic Seating

You don’t have to have a seat for everyone that attends (unless an activity you are doing requires it). It’s better if you don’t so people are constantly shifting around and mingling. Do keep in mind any friends or family that require special accommodations and have those ready ahead of time so that they immediately feel comfortable at your party. Things like rugs that slip should be removed for guests with canes, walkers or wheelchairs. Also, make sure there is ample space for assistive devices like wheelchairs and walkers. You don’t want to be fumbling to find a spot for guests.

9. Separation of Food and Drinks

Don’t set the drink station right by the food. Otherwise, everyone will stay in the same spot so they can graze. If you put the drinks across the room, they have to move around. If you have a large space that people will be in, set up mini food stations around on end tables and coffee tables so people don’t have to leave there conversations too much if they want more food.

10. Go With The Flow

Your demeanor will greatly affect the tone of the party. So if someone spills red wine, even if you are searing on the inside, handle it with grace. There are very few things that could happen that are really worth worrying about so relax and enjoy. If you come off as being stressed, you may create a tense environment and that’s not fun for anyone.
Happy party planning!

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What additional tips do you have for planning a party?