This year, the holidays are coming upon us quick!! I don’t know about your calendar, but mine is filling up fast! I’m not sure when I am supposed to shop, let alone have a holiday dinner party for my family…with such a short time between now and Christmas, I have to get everything planned and on my calendar – or it just won’t get done! I might even have to invite myself to my own tree decorating! I’m a list maker and when it comes to planning a party at any level (from a casual buffet to a more formal sit down dinner) I use lists from the menu to decorations. I even plan for oven time! I have found it makes things much less stressful, I am less likely to forget something and I can see what items I can make ahead (which I love to do). I also like to set things out the night before for a buffet; like the serving platters, plates and silverware, etc. If it is a sit down dinner, I set the table the night before to make sure I have the glasses cleaned and silverware polished (who’s kidding, I don’t use silver, but I do polish the dishwasher spots). I try to limit the amount of work on the day of my party.
Here is my personal list for planning a dinner party, feel free to use it and make it your own!
Two weeks before
- Plan the menu - whether it is a casual gathering or formal affair, decide what you are making. Think about dishes you can make ahead and freeze or that will keep in the fridge for a few days. If you need to order anything special, you should have plenty of time to place an order with a butcher or grocery.
- Clean any crystal, dishes, or silverware (if using anything that fancy). Or purchase fun and festive holiday plates and napkins that can be tossed when you’re done.
One week before
- Give your house or apartment a good cleaning. You can spot clean the day of, but do the heavy cleaning now.
- Make your shopping list and check your pantry for items that might need replaced (the less often used items).
- Work out your cooking schedule. I like to work backwards from the time I plan to eat. Get out all of your recipes and set a timetable for each dish that needs cooked. Think about items that can cook together. And don’t forget warming time for things that you made ahead or need a quick warming like bread or rolls.
- Make any of your recipes that can be made ahead and frozen. Many appetizers, soups, side dishes and desserts freeze well.
Three days before
- Shop for food and beverages.
- Prep all veggies ahead (wash before you put them away, cut or dice as needed for recipes).
One day before
Set your table for a formal dinner or set out serving platters and dishes for a buffet.
- Another quick cleanup of your house or apartment.
- Do any other prep or cooking you can before the day of the party.
One hour to go
- Empty your dishwasher, cleaning as you go helps eliminate the pile up of dishes and leaves you less likely doing frantic clean up before guests arrive.
- Get dressed and freshen up.
- Check your menu and cooking list to make sure you have everything warming or finishing in the oven. If you forgot something – don’t sweat it! Move on with everything else.
30 minutes left
- Uncork the wine
- Turn on your music
- Toss your salad
- Warm the bread
• Light candles
- Get a sip of wine and prepare for the early guests…there is always one, if they do show up early, put them to work! Most people like to help, and are glad to do so if asked.
- Relax and enjoy your friends and family
Red Gold has plenty of recipes for your next party, find them here.
Click here to print party planning checklist.