I am hosting a brunch for my lady friends this afternoon. I am so looking forward to entertaining again, that the hardest part was waiting for the day to get here. Seriously, it was like waking up on Christmas morning. My eyes were open at 5:30 and I forced myself to stay for another two hours! But the benefit of planning ahead is, well, having time to plan ahead.
The key to pulling off a party with panache is getting as much done ahead of time as you can. The first party we threw at our new joint was a last minute affair, so prep basically occurred within hours of kickoff time. Which was fine. A little hectic, but for such a laid back last-minute occasion it worked. This go-around I left myself plenty of time to work with and here’s how it all went down.
1 Month Out
- Figure out what day of the week would work best – I have very busy friends and most of these women have engagements on Friday and Saturday nights, so I decided that a Sunday afternoon would suit most schedules. Figure out what works best for your targeted audience. If this were Numero Uno and his guys, Saturday night probably would have been the best bet.
- Send out an invitation – I decided to use paperlesspost.com, but any online invitation service works. No written invites for this; it just seemed too formal. The benefit of using an online invitation instead of an email is that it is easier for your guests to RSVP and for you to keep a running count of who has responded. Emails can get muddled, topics change, etc. Make sure to include the address, times, date, and parking instructions for your friends.
2 Weeks Out
- Start planning your menu. I started this a little bit earlier, but only because I was excited to begin! Creating list a few weeks out allows for some time to tweak the food items. I start creating a list of all the things I want to make (MAKE ALL THE FOODS!) and then pared down to an amount that was realistic and manageable. And as if I don’t say this enough, know who your target guests are. These are fit, healthy, active ladies (some with food allergies) – sausage cheeseballs will be left for another day.
- As you are beginning to finalize the menu, begin a shopping list
1 Week Out
- Send out a reminder to those who have not RSVP’d yet to make sure you get an accurate head count
- Create detailed shopping list of all the items you need (this does not only include food!) and where you’ll get them. I had a list for:
- Trader Joe’s
- Farmer’s Market
- Whole Foods
- Regular grocery store
- Shop for the non-perishable items on your list. The Sunday before I did a major haul at Trader Joe’s for items such as raw sugar, nuts and dried fruits for granola, coconut oil, egg whites, salsa, champagne, etc. Know where you can buy the best product for the best deal. TJ’s really has some great organic items are reasonable prices.
2 Days Out
- Make any foods that will last a few days and still taste fresh. For me, this was my homemade granola. I cooked up a batch and loaded them into Bell canning jars.
- Shop at farmer’s market, Whole Foods, and grocery store for all perishable and forgotten items.
- This is probably your heaviest work day. Prep any foods or parts of dishes that will make getting brunch on the table the next day a breeze. If you’re hosting a dinner, these tasks could probably be done the morning of.
- Saute vegetables for an egg bake
- Make fruit purees for bellinis
- Any prep you can!
- Make sure your bathrooms are spic and span (clean towels, extra toilet paper, lovely-smelling candle burning). Don’t leave your bathroom a mess with the expectation that your friends will all use the guest bathroom. Someone will inevitably go in there and find the dirty secret that is your hair ball in the toilet.
- Set out any serving dishes that you will need. Don’t want to be scrambling the day of to find that perfect dish.
- Ladies – paint your nails if you want! This is never a good idea to do right before starting a party.
- Do anything that will make you feel great when hosting your party. For me that means getting a workout in, finding time to put on makeup, and curling my hair.
- Empty your trashcan
- Empty your dishwasher – it’s nice to have it clean to put all your used dishes in as the party goes
- Assemble all your dishes and bake/cook them
- Set up plates, napkins, serving utensils, etc.
- Don’t stress! Everything will come together just fine if you’ve prepared 🙂