Might Be In Over My Head…Maybe?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I know this post should have come at least on Christmas Eve. But despite being a little late, I still wanted to get it out and finish my Counting Down to Christmas Series. I was working on finishing a Christmas project/present for my mother (that I started 6 months ago), which combined with some unexpected surprises with my son’s basketball tournament, left me running behind.

The cool thing about the series on Christmas parties is that whether it’s at Christmas or another time of the year, generally speaking, the basics are the same. As I said in previous posts, we were hosting 2 Christmas parties this year and, as it turns out we, my husband and I, actually ended up hosting a smaller impromptu 3rd. Thankfully I was very well prepared since I had already done a lot of prep work for the other two. What really mattered were the last minute details.

What You See is What You Expect…

I’m talking cleaning folks. I have learned over the years from my business and based on my own knee jerk judgments, done without much thought, just immediate reaction, that first impressions determine a person’s whole expectation of the rest of the event. If someone walks in and sees that the house is not clean or there is excess clutter on the floor or are dishes dirty and piled in the sink or you go to the restroom and the toilet isn’t clean, it makes them wonder…”how clean are the plate and silverware I am using?”…”what about what I am eating?”…”Should I be worried?”… I know this may sound extreme but ask yourself, truly ask yourself, when you walk in a home that may not have smelled clean or looked clean, didn’t you make a judgment?

Save yourself the “what ifs” and “will theys” and do a quick clean focusing on vacuuming/mopping the floors, cleaning the toilets and organizing. These few things make such a difference. I suggest doing a major clean sometime during the week before a party followed by a light touch up the day of. There is nothing worse than racing to get everything extreme clean the day of the party when there are so many other things to do. Odds are that you will not have too many major disasters happen to ruin your cleaning efforts a couple of days before the party.

Set Out What You Can Before Guests Arrive…

Have a designated place for things like plates, napkins and silverware and set them out in advance so you are not scrambling for them when guests need them. This goes for trash too. Make sure the trashcan is empty and easily accessible. Pull out all your serving plates and utensils that you anticipate needing. Have them ready to go for when you finish cooking. If you are doing a potluck, make sure to have them ready for guests that may need them.

Speaking of potluck, make sure you have a location designated and ready for people to set their goodies when they arrive. This is also true if you will be doing buffet or serve yourself style. I suggest it be an area where people can easily circulate.

Christmas Party Potluck and Buffet Serving Station at www.wifemomhouseohmy.com

Potluck and Buffet Serving Station at one of our holiday parties.

If you have a bar or are serving alcohol, make sure that has its own area too. Set glasses and other fixing items you might need in that location. It will save you time as people “order” drinks.

If your dining table needs the leaf added in to accommodate all your guests at the party, do it before hand. You really don’t want to tackle this one while your also trying to serve as hostess AND chef.

Sit down dinner assigned dishes potluck Christmas dinner at www.wifemomhouseohmy.com

Sit down dinner assigned dishes potluck Christmas dinner. Made sure we had the plates, serving ware, trivets, and table cloth all in place. All that needed to be done was to add the food everyone brought.

Food now or later…

Make a quick timeline of the menu that you will be preparing. What needs to be cooked when and how long so that you can stagger your cooking. There is nothing more challenging in my mind than getting a meal before the appetizer and I blame that on poor planning. If the turkey is going to take 4 hours to cook, can the appetizer go in with the turkey for 10-15 minutes? Also, decide which foods you can plate now versus those that have to wait. Putting cookies on a tray and peanuts in a dish can happen at any time prior to a party but you will probably want to wait on slicing cheese or meats till about 15-30 minutes before so they look and taste fresh.

Stock Up…

I highly recommend that you have plenty of toilet paper, tissues, and bathroom spray readily available for your guests. There is nothing more embarrassing for a guest than to have to ask for more toilet paper or to have to worry about leaving any aroma of any kind behind.  While you are at it, I recommend having at least two “Guest Hand Towels” for drying per bathroom that will be available to guests and more at the ready underneath the sink should you have a large party.

Start the Party Early…

Well…you are doing the prep, so it should be fun. Turn on your iPod or stereo early and enjoy some music as you get ready for your party. Also, if you are planning to have a fire going, something we chose to do at our holiday parties, stack the firewood in place beforehand. That way all you have to do is start the fire right before guests are due to arrive.

Open your red wines early so that they can breathe while you prep for your party. Red wine is best once it has had a chance to breathe and rest rather than right after you open the bottle.

Relax…

I highly suggest the last ten minutes before guests arrive to just sit and relax. Become the essences of calm and “get into” the party you are about to have. You have invited everyone to have fun and enjoy and celebrate; you should too.

What Would You Want…

My last little tidbit that I kind of use for almost everything I do is to ask myself, “If I were in their shoes, what would I want?” If I can make it happen, I try to do so.

I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and though a little late, I hope this helps you for any future parties you may throw. Like a New Year’s Eve Party or Rose Parade/Bowl for those of you who live here in So Cal. Look forward to hearing how your holidays have gone so far and to more in the upcoming 2014 year.

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