As many busy moms know, this is the season of party planning: graduations, sacraments, and in our family, birthdays. What a fun and hectic time of year! I always considered myself a bit of a party planner. I love a good theme party and I love to have friends and family fill my house.
Over the years I’ve become all about simplifying and efficiency when it comes to throwing a party. Too many cooks, as they say, spoil the broth so I like to keep the food & drink simple and make sure that we don’t have an overabundance that will go to waste. I’ve also learned a few other lessons like: if you let the crowd take over your house, something is bound to get broken. And if you can’t find the time to make all the food from scratch, there’s nothing wrong with using a local caterer or deli to save you time and stress.
So here are my 5 steps to simplifying your party planning this summer.
- Insist on RSVP’s a week in advance. – With electronic evites now there is really no excuse for not responding. I know schedules are hectic but really, if people can click on Yes, send a text or god-forbid pick up the phone and call you, I would consider “un-friending” them. They should take my class on time management. For those that don’t respond by the deadline, give them a friendly little reminder call.
- Keep the menu simple – If you are providing a meal, keep it to one or two entrees, a couple of side salads and a few snacks. That way, if people ask to bring something they can always bring a snack or dessert. Those are the items you can have a little or a lot of. But you want to control the main dish so you have enough for everyone. If there are kids coming, make sure you have at least one entrée that is kid-friendly and some sort of fruit or veggie dip to make the parents happy.
- Decide whether it’s an outside or an inside party. In the summer, many parties go both ways, but you can at least limit which rooms inside are going to be used. Close doors, put food and decorations where you want people to mingle and designate one bathroom for the guests. Put the liquor where you don’t mind the rowdy people hanging out!
- Invest in some re-usable party supplies – Every year our family has a Memorial Day picnic so it made sense to buy plastic platters and bowls with the red, white & blue theme as opposed to buying paper products each year. You can also stock up on some classic themes like Happy Birthday signs, Hawaiian Luau decorations, colored plastic table clothes and a utensil caddy for plastic ware. Store these in the basement on a shelf.
- Set up & straighten up a few hours before – I don’t advise doing a thorough cleaning before a party. Yes, clean the bathrooms that your guests will be using. No, don’t vacuum and dust. Instead, straighten up the whole house. Tuck away valuable items and delicate things that you don’t want children getting into or breaking. Motivate your family to help. With a few extra hands you can do this in an hour. Save the deep cleaning for afterwards!