Party Planning 101

You want to host a party, but you have no idea where to begin. Hosting isn't difficult once you nail down a few simple tricks. Here are my tried-and-true tips for pulling together any party, from a simple dinner with a couple of friends to a crowded-house holiday bash. 1. Make a to-do list in three categories: the food, the location, and the guests. Write down everything you need to purchase, prepare, or plan in each of the categories. Take a good look over your lists and then ask yourself where you can scale back. Can you use decorations you already have instead of purchasing something new? Can you send out e-vites instead of snail mail invites? Can you plan a menu that can be made ahead of time? You'll enjoy yourself so much more if you keep things simple. Remember, this is Party Planning 101, not Themed Extravaganzas 1480. 2. Create a time frame. Next to each item on your list, decide when each item should be completed---one week before, three days before, an hour before, etc. By breaking the list down this way, you're creating a chronological to-do list that you can transfer to your calendar. You'll also recognize any red flags, like if you've planned to pick up the rolls from the bakery the same day your husband has scheduled to have your car in the shop for an oil change. 3. On the day of the party, give yourself plenty of time to prepare so that you aren't rushing around as guests arrive. There are always a few inevitable hiccups, so plan some extra time to be truly prepared. Spend the quiet moments before guests arrive doing something relaxing, like listening to soft music or sipping something delicious. You'll tap into your hosting zen and be party-ready when the doorbell rings. 4. Say yes to help. Doing everything by yourself may seem simpler at times, but trust me---people want to help and you're better off letting them. If someone offers to bring food, run an errand, or simply chop celery for a vegetable tray with you, let go of a little control and let them. You'll both enjoy the party more if you say yes. 5. Assign a photographer. Ask one of your guests to take snapshots during the party. Hand them your camera and ask for a little documentation. You'll end up with some great photographic memories at the end of the night, something you wouldn't have time to do yourself as you take care off all the other details during the party. However, be sure to get a shot of your photographer before you hand the camera over! 6. Enjoy the moment. Sure, it sounds cliché, but it's true. A party is a celebration with people you love to be with. It's not about your coordinating napkins and tablecloths, or even the outfit you're wearing; it's about being together, so relax and enjoy yourself. After all, it's a party! (Check out Mrs. Fields Gifts online. There's a special sale going on today, December 13---$10 off any gift! Hurry before the offer ends!)
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