1. Don't worry about how your home compares with everyone else's.
We like to use the outside patio when we can, and each time we plan an outdoor event is a real gamble, winds, hail, a cold snap, and dust are all things that can rain on your parade.
2. Come up with plan b.
3. Use what you have.
I try to keep using paper plates & napkins and plastic ware down to a minimum. Okay, I admit, I have a goodly collection of dishes. But with a purpose (he he). My talavera is perfect for this event. And since I don't have 24+ of these plates - yet, I add a secondary collection of outside melamine in the same theme to the mix. Mixing it up is okay.
Yes, this plates is melamine. The silverware was the same on both tables so it all was very cohesive. Even when the round table had silver chargers and the larger rectangular table used silver placemats, the tables still "looked" the same and had the same feel.
4. Simplify your decorations.
I found these wonderful, large, turquoise, metal flowers at one of my favorite stores this past spring. Bringing three of them home at one time made my husband gasp, but I knew they would serve the absolute best purpose.. centerpieces AND candleholders for outside.
My dear friend Carolyn did bring over wonderful floral centerpieces and flowering plants the evening before. But even without them, the table would have been a success. Thanks Carolyn!
5. Have enough glassware.
Stocking up on Dollar Tree glasses has made a big difference in my life! I use these glasses for water, wine, punch, mixed beverages, etc. great size and at a dollar a piece.. well losing one is no big deal!
6. Plan our your refreshment center.
Yes. This is important. I always put my sweet husband in charge of the margarita machine if we are providing refreshments, or in charge of keeping the bar stocked if we are providing set ups. Days before the event I will place all items from a pre-thought-out list on a counter, as I plan on arranging the bar. That way the day of the party, I just tote things outside or set up inside. No thought process involved.
8. Make lists.
Especially if you repeat the same event. No need to think of everything again. Just print it out and check mark as you. I use this same strategy for Thanksgivings, Easter, Christmas meals. You see if you think about it before you are frazzled with last minute issues, then the big things are taken care of. I use a mind mapping software that is sooo easy. Click HERE to read more.
Your lawn service, sons or husbands to take care of the yard at least two days before the event.
Carpet cleaner early in the week of the event.
Plan a bit of cleaning each evening (if you work) or each day and then the day of is ready for you to take care of the last minute details.
Grocery/beverage shopping 3-4 days before. It takes flowers at least that long to open properly.
10. Do a walk through beginning early in the day.
I start at the back end of the house (this group is inquisitive). Make the bed, put up the towels, put up the clothes, the room is already clean, remember? Turn on lights for the evening. I do this as each room is complete, that way if I don't get back again, the house is ready.
11. Do not use operating room strength lights!!!!
Either put your overheads on dimmers, or change out lightbulbs for lower wattage. So much better ambiance. Who is going to want to read the Wall Street Journal anyway? If they do, give them a flashlight. ;-)
12.Set up your buffet.
I love having the tapas party at our house. I make a few dishes and every couple/one brings an item to share. How easy is this. I used to have to keep track as to who was bringing what, but we've all gotten past the idea of bringing Pedro's tamales now. Provide warming trays and power outlets and ice.
13. Keep a picture file.
Record what you used and how you set your table and the guests that attended. So easy to make a few changes the next year to keep things fresh and new.
Aren't the flowers Carolyn brought wonderful. She knew the theme, she knew that I would be using serapes and just went with that.
14. back to back events make entertaining easy.
Don't shoot me just yet: 1. the house is clean. 2. the flowers are fresh. 3. you didn't really cook for the first one. 4. the weather is still just perfect. 5. everything is already out. 6. it really is fun to entertain, really! We hosted a family event the next evening.
We did light all the candles along the fence! And it was all okay. And they were a big hit!
In the end, everything turned out fabulously. I really even had time to sit down and enjoy myself before the party. And then just as I expected, the crowd around the large table grew and there was plenty of room. Seeing this picture makes my heart sing. Friends enjoying themselves, that is what it is all about.
15. And one final tip: I do not allow my guests to do dishes. It's a personal thing. So provide deep busing tubs (check out rubbermaid tubs) into which guests can place their dirty dishes. You can then carry them to the kitchen yourself after everyone leaves and everyone can enjoy the party till the last minute.
Linking up to Cuisine Kathleen's Let's Dish,
Stone Gable's Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits,
Susan's Tablescape Thursday.
Hope to see you there!!