So you've decided to have a few friends over for a fun, casual party. Formalities aren't necessary, but in order to enjoy this party as much as your guests, a little planning will go a long way toward helping you feel prepared and ready for fun. Here's a simple checklist you can follow to have everything ready (yourself included!) when the first guest arrives on your doorstep.
Two Weeks Before
Make your guest list. Issue invitations. Since this is a casual party, you can make phone calls, send out an email invitation, use an online invitation service, or mail out something in writing. The choice is yours. Take inventory of your chairs, tables, dinnerware, glassware, linens, flatware, serving bowls and spoons. If you don't have enough, arrange to borrow the needed supplies. Alternatively, now is the time to reserve equipment at your local party supply rental store. Plan your food and drinks menu. Prepare your shopping list. Order any special ingredients, meats or beverages you will need. Review your table linens and iron or wash as necessary.
One Week Before
Order or create your centerpiece and other floral arrangements. Purchase any new candles you plan to use. Choose your music. Confirm your guest list if there are any guests who haven't responded to your invitation. Complete the heavy cleaning jobs that need to be done prior to your party. Purchase your beverages. Shop for all non-perishables.
Four Days Before
Clean out your refrigerator in preparation for fresh party food. Make a schedule for cooking your party food and mixing beverages.
Three Days Before
Shop for perishable items except for bread. Prepare and properly store any desserts that can be made in advance. Prepare and properly store all appetizers, dips, snacks or nuts that can be made in advance.
One to Two Days Before
Tidy up all of the messy areas that are left in your home. If necessary, neatly box and store the clutter until after the party. Clean powder room. Dust and vacuum any rooms that guests will see. Clean out your coat closet if the party is held during winter. Set table. Lay out serving pieces. Prepare any salads or side dishes that can be prepared, refrigerated and simply reheated before serving.
Day of Party
Prepare all recipes according to the schedule you made. Walk through all of your party rooms with baskets in hand to pick-up last minute clutter. Turn on music. Light candles. Take at least 15 minutes to rest and refresh yourself so that you're ready to party and enjoy all of your hard work.
It's Show Time!
Set out the food. Greet guests as they arrive and offer to hang up their coats. Offer guests a drink. Have fun!