We're having a big party this weekend to celebrate our daughter's confirmation, and--get this--the weather forecast is 81 degrees and zero percent chance of rain! Woo-hoo!
I've learned many things from my extended family over the years, and because my aunts and mom are so good at hosting large gatherings, I know I'll be able to handle this one too.
Here are some of my tips:
- About 6 weeks before, prepare your guest list.
- 4-6 weeks before, purchase invitations and thank you notes. Send the invitations 3-4 weeks in advance.
- Write down a sample menu. Avoid the urge to go overboard on variety. If you're comfortable asking family or friends to bring a dish, call them a few weeks prior to verify what they're bringing.
- Plan easy, hearty food. Our menu consists of ham, baked beans, macaroni & cheese, a few cold salads, corn bread, and a sheet cake for dessert (my talented niece is creating the cake for us!). We'll be cooking most of the food on Saturday and warming it up on Sunday.
- Spread out the preparations. I shopped for beverages two weeks ahead. I purchased non-perishables the week before. Fresher foods are bought a day or two before the party.
- Your refrigerator will be stuffed with food, so rely on coolers for beverages. Fill the coolers with sodas, water, and beer (if you're serving alcohol), and place the coolers close to the main party area. Since the weather forecast is calling for a gorgeous day, we're keeping most of the party outdoors. The coolers will be on our deck.
- Your close loved ones want to help during the party. There's no reason you have to do it all! Ask them to keep an eye on the food so you can mingle. Also, ask your spouse, an older child, a nephew, or friend to take plenty of pictures. You'll probably be too busy to take pictures and you're going to want photos.
- If the party is an open house style where people can drop in at any time and no RSVP is required, keep the time short. Two to three hours is plenty. Or if you're having a graduation party where the fun will continue well into the night, start the party later.
- If at all possible, do not plan anything for the next day. Reserve it for yourself. Throwing a big party is tons of fun, but it's also a lot of work. Go ahead and spend the following day in your pajamas. You deserve it!
What are your party tips for hosting a large gathering?
Enjoy your weekend!