...family, friends, home and other tidbits of a blessed life

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Party Planning tips tablescape

We host two events a year for the local members of my husband's graduating class. The crowd can hover at 20+ people. I've finally figured out how to host an event and enjoy it too! So let's get on with the tips.

One of those events is our annual tapas party. Tapas are just spanish "little bites", hors d'oeuvres, or appetizers. Just google tapas and a whole world comes alive in the privacy of your own computer.

With a theme, it's really easy to focus on providing a wonderful environment for your guests. Our home is not large by any means, but that doesn't stop us from bringing over the whole crowd.
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.
7. Delegate.
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.

9. Schedule
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,

Hope to see you there!!


Babs said...

GREAT tips! and GREAT tablescape. Love the turquoise candle holders and the serapes for table covers. The idea for lower lighting is really a good one. Love the candles on the fence, too. Thanks for sharing these tips. We have a Christmas party every year,for my husband's high school friends,and I really need to start planning since I want to do something different on
the buffet table this year.

Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

Marlis, these are great tips! I love the festive setting that you've created. This is fabulous!

Pat said...

These are all wonderful ideas, Marlis. I just absolutely love those tables!

ellen b. said...

Great tips Marlis! Love all the twinklies, especially the candles on the fence. The colors are fabulous for a party, too.

Alycia Nichols said...

REALLY neat set-up, Marlis, and great tips on keeping your sanity when planning a party. I think it's too easy to get caught up in trying to make everything "perfect" instead of focusing on 1.) Simple enjoyment of r guests, 2.) Good food & drink, 3.) Good entertainment (even if it's just background music), and 4.) Not driving ourselves into the ground. I am guilty of having done said things on several occasions. That's why I now start doing everything as far in advance as humanly possible. I am just so in love with all those candles holders on your fence! Such fabulous ambiance!!! I'm also a HUGE fan of planning parties back-to-back so as to take advantage of all my cleaning/decorating efforts and floral expenses!!! Makes perfect sense to me! Everything looks great! Glad it all went well for you guys!

Red Couch Recipes said...

Marlis, your tapas party looked so festive and fun. I love the big turqoise flowers and the candles on the fence look amazing. Serapes make great table coverings! Love all your tips. I also don't let guests do dishes (I have lost some dishes when they help:). Joni

kitty said...

What wonderful ideas you've shared, Marlis! You're a great party planner and everything looks so colorful and fun. I love the candles lit on the fence.

Marigene said...

Great tips...festive table!

Debbie@Mountain Breaths said...

Great tips, and I especially agree with not using operating room strength lights. The candles on the fence are amazing!

Dianne said...

Hi Marlis,
This is wonderful. Those napkins are so beautiful. I want some! Fantastic tips for enjoying the party. I totally agree with not allowing the guest to do the dishes. It always ends the fun. I bought several used bus tubs from a restaurant supply store. Thanks for sharing. Dianne

Entertaining Women said...

Where did you find those glorious turquoise metal flowers....I LOVE them! We said many times, and I'll say it again....you and I would work so well together....someday, we'll figure it out. Cherry Kay

Lulu said...

Ah, you've got the fiesta theme going....makes me a little homesick, but it won't be long til we get back to Texas, Mexican food and a real margarita. Love the napkins.

Monica @ Texas Fiesta Ware Fan said...

Thanks for sharing all the tips. I love all the details.

xinex said...

Beautiful setting, Marlia. I cannot believe those are melamine. They are pretty, they look kinda Italian....Christine

Linda Primmer said...

Very festive tapas party. I love that is outdoors. Those plates are so pretty, who knew? Lots of wonderful inspiration. Those turquoise metal flowers are catching my eye...love them! Thanks for sharing

Jacqueline said...

Marlis, I bet people just swoon when they come to your parties! You do everything so perfectly. The details are amazing. Those turquois candleholders are wonderful. I know, we have had a little gasping around here and every space seems filled to the max. It is even more lovely at night and I love that you showed your guests too. You are an amazing hostess.

Meredith said...

Beautiful. I love the metal flowers. What a fun evening, I'm sure!

Mary said...

Wonderful tips Marlis for a great evening! I love you candlelit fence and colored lights~ perfect ambiance for your serapes on the table! Tapas are my kind of dining~ I think everyone loves small bites and variety! I know your guests feel welcome in your home and with all your attention to detail!

swedecollection said...

Marlis, Those silver placemats are 2Die4. Can you tell us more about them? Plates/napkins/tablecovers -- everything fit the theme perfectly. All your tips are spot on. Things we need to review periodically. I'm printing your post and keeping it. I'm with you on the final tip - I don't let guests do dishes either. Sometimes I've had to be VERY firm about that. Looks like you host a great party!!!!

Tammy Partin Spangler said...

Great post! I make my list for annual events as well and keep them to refer to the following year. It really helps me to remember what things my guests really enjoyed! For example, our first Christmas Open House, I had coffee, hot chocolate, hot apple cider and punch. My guests really only went for the punch. The following year I just had the regular punch and added a champagne punch which went over big as well!

laurie said...

What a fun party! The searape table coverings are so perfect with that china. I think it's better that the plates are all a perfect match. Makes things more interesting. Those votive holders on the tables are beautiful. You do know how to have a party. Will you do my next party? laurie

Sarah said...

Marlis, thanks for sharing your great tips. I took good notes! Love your colorful serapes and beautiful talavera..........Sarah

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Great tips to destress the entertaining! Looks like a delightful gathering.

Patti @ Pandoras Box said...

Lovely, colorful table and great tips! Love the candles on the fence, too!

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

You have shared some great tips here, thanks!

Those plates are beautiful! Very pretty and festive party!


Athena at Minervas Garden said...

Looks like you threw a lovely party--the tablescape is just beautiful, and how fun to be able to enjoy your pretty outdoor area!

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

Hi darling, what a beautiful festive setting, I can tell you all had a blast, thanks for all the tips. Sometimes we forget and let the process over whelm us instead of enjoying the process... hugs ~lynne~

NancyDaQ said...

I love this look, but then, I love them all! This would be a perfect look at my house too.


What a gorgeous party! They're all such lucky guests to be at an over the top hostess's house! The dishes are to die for, dear Marlis, just gorgeous. Great tips, I do always try to enjoy the process as the actual party and not get overwhelmed with work or hostessing..I love to make parties at home, as well as been a guest. Enjoy the weekend, lovely lady.

Maria C said...

You truly have mastered the art of graceful entertainment. I am getting better, although I still seem to run around a little frantic during the last hour before the guests arrive. I do agree with you on how important it is to make lists. Not only do they help keep me organized, but occasionally, a curious husband will take a peek at it and volunteer for a task.

Pat said...

What a beautiful table. I bookmarked your post, liking your tips. Love that flatware too. What is it? It looks Spanish...

Kathleen said...

They look like wonderful parties, and I agree with all your tips! No matter how much I plan, and I do, I still feel there's more to do, I never relax!
I love the colors, wish I could be there at one of your shin digs! :)
Thanks so much for linking to Let's Dish!


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