It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For lots of us, this week and next are going to be jam packed with festivities. It can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed with the long list of to-do’s leading up to any fetê.
Today, I want to take the time to not only share MY personal party prep strategy, but also to hear from you all and have you share the ways you gracefully plan for the seasons soirées. When I plan a party (and this goes for the entire year, not just the holidays), I make a detailed schedule which includes essentials like food prep, but also when to dim the lights, cue the music, and especially when to get my face and hair together. A lot of the things I put on my list seem fairly obvious and it may be tempting to omit them from the schedule, but I highly recommend keeping even the smallest of tasks written down and given a completion time. Here are TWO reasons why…
First, have you ever heard of Parkinsons Law? It states that any task will expand to the time given for it’s completion. Which is to say that if you give yourself 30 minutes to set the table, it will take just 30 minutes, but if you give yourself an hour to set the table, it will take you the full hour. Writing down a timeline for each task keeps the tasks form expanding and taking more time than they legitimately need.
Also, when our brains are chalk full of to-do’s we often have a hard time focusing on one task at a time because our minds are fixated on what is coming next, or what we might be forgetting. Getting every single teeny tiny task out on paper means that our brains can full focus on the task at hand – be that curling our hair or ironing napkins.
Making a list subconsciously gives our brains permission to focus on just one thing (instead of mindless multitasking) because we know that everything else has its own time and is accounted for on the schedule. This also helps when multiple recipes have different cook times and temperatures too.
Here is a sample of why my day of party timelines typically look like for an evening event:
8:00am – shower & let hair air dry
8:30am – review recipes & decide on cooking/baking timeline based on what can be made ahead and what must be served hot & fresh.
9:00am – set out all shelf stable ingredients needed and group by recipe.
9:30am – Turn on oven and start on first recipe (wild rice and quinoa salad to be served at room temp). In the meantime, create cheese platter, shrimp cocktail & refrigerate.
10:30am – Make dessert and bake.
11:00am – While dessert is baking, set table, create centerpiece, use sticky notes to label all serving dishes with what will be going in them, then create pretty food labels. Ask Matt to start ironing linen napkins.
12:00pm – Take dessert from oven and set out on sideboard. Stick asparagus in oven for 10 minutes.
12:10pm – Remove Asparagus, wrap in herb goat cheese & prosciutto, then refrigerate.
12:45pm – Dress & prep beef wellington & refrigerate until later
1:30pm – Make potato casserole & refrigerate until later
2:15pm – Make egg nog & refrigerate
3:00pm – Wash all dishes dirtied to this point.
3:30pm – Gather festive cocktail napkins, crystal and beverage tubs and set up bar (ask Matt to go get ice).
4:15pm – Put beef wellington & potato casserole in oven, then go upstairs to curl hair, do makeup. When done, do a sweep of the bathroom, tidy & light candle. Get dressed in party clothes except for heels and don apron.
5:15pm – Dim lights, put on music. Set out cheese, shrimp cocktail, and prosciutto asparagus.
5:30pm – Guests arrive! Put my heels on, pour myself a drink, Mingle and help make cocktails for guests.
6:00pm – Set out main course & side dishes. Start coffee for after dinner drinks.
6:15pm – Dinner
So, do you see what I mean when I say put EVERYTHING on your list? I even carve out time for dishes and lighting a candle in the bathroom! Having the timeline so specifically planned out means that I can relax and enjoy all the preparations, knowing that everything has a little piece of time already carved out.
Now it’s your turn! I want to hear what YOU do to ease the stress around holiday party planning!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Daniel Wellington. Take advantage of the code ERIN15 and get 15% off your Daniel Wellington purchase until January 15th!