If you’re planning a party, you may want to follow my friend Betty’s guidance. She calls it her “Do-Ahead Party Preparation” and comes from her marvelous cookbook Celebrations So Fat, Low Fat, No Fat, printed by
Fireside, Simon & Schuster, Inc. in 1999. We were neighbors in Strayhorn Heights, Lake Tenkiller, Oklahoma, for seven happy years, during which I benefited greatly from her recipes and excellent cooking.
You may already be behind schedule for your Christmas party, but you’re right on time for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Wish I could write as well or colorfully as Betty does, but since I don’t, I’m giving full credit to her for this holiday party planning guide (see below):
“4 to 6 WEEKS AHEAD:
Decide on the type of party you are considering.
Consider the space available.
Consider the number of guests.
Make lists of decisions—listing guests—be able to glance at your notebook and know exactly what you’re doing at all times. No room for guesswork or depending on your memory.
3 TO 4 WEEKS AHEAD:
Send out invitations. You can make your own, especially if you have a computer. If not, print on pretty paper, using the theme of your party for the design, such as Easter bunnies and so forth.
Check your kitchen for equipment. Be sure you can handle whatever you have decided to do.
If you have friends or someone to help you, make arrangements early. If you wait until the last minute, you may find them already busy with other arrangements.
If you plan to rent serving dishes or glasses, etc., make the arrangements now.
Plan the menu. Make your grocery list. Pick up items along the way as they are on sale. Be sure to check your list off as you do. Keep the party items in one designated place for convenience.
Start your decorating plan. Do related shopping, or check your after-holiday shopping stock. I keep my holiday items in separate boxes. When a new item is picked up during after holiday sale, I add it to the box. Maybe you already have all you need.
2 WEEKS AHEAD:
Buy wines and other beverages.
Check your menu items for things to do ahead. Bake or cook and freeze as many things as possible.
Check your linens—make sure they are freshly cleaned and ironed.
Start storing extra ice—empty ice compartment into zip-lock bags and place in freezer.
Consider your outfit—make sure it is clean and pressed.
1 WEEK AHEAD:
Shop for remaining food items.
Do as much advance food preparations as possible.
Set up party tables and chairs. If you need to borrow folding chairs, do so at this time.
2 DAYS AHEAD:
Set up table—do decorations.
Do any advance food preparation possible.
Make sure your glasses are sparkling clean. When they are hanging in a wine rack or displayed outside or even in a china cabinet, they can get a film on them. Don’t forget the little extra touch of a tiny satin ribbon tied on each stem.
ONE DAY AHEAD:
Do any last-minute shipping, for dairy items, for example.
Be sure to set up trash containers conveniently and visibly located if entertaining with paper products or outside.
Check your outfit for last minute pressing.
As early in the day as possible, finish food preparation.
Leave time for yourself. The key is to look comfortable, happy and not stressed out. If you look stressed, you make your guests feel uncomfortable and stressed. If you look relaxed and happy, so will your guests.
The key to this entire program is PLANNING.”
Please call, e-mail, or snail mail my invitation to your party. I’m looking forward to the event!
Annie Ambles gains wisdom from Betty