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October 2006 - How to Plan a Party

I have met so many people who have not entertained in years because they cannot get out from under the clutter. They are too busy and too overwhelmed and ashamed to have people over. My suggestion is to plan a party (set the goal) and then take the steps necessary to reach that goal! Now I know some of you are thinking, “How am I going to plan a party when my house is such a mess?” Well I am here to tell you that all it takes is a lot of planning (and a little work of course).

1. Set a date
2. Make a list of who you would like to invite
3. Plan a menu
4. Call your guests
5. Make a to-do list

Choose a date that allows you plenty of preparation time. A month is ample to get the house ready for guests.

Don’t try and have too many people if it’s your first time entertaining. It may be better to have two smaller functions than to try and have everybody at once. It’s up to you. It’s more likely you will have a chance to chat with everyone if you have a small group. You can do an intimate sit down meal with a smaller group. Larger groups tend to be more work and you may find yourself running around more. Buffets are great when you have a big crowd.

It’s important to plan the menu before you call people so that if they offer to bring something, you can jot it down beside their name. This will help you with your meal planning. You don’t have to make everything yourself. You can make the main course and have others bring appetizers, salads and dessert. Or better still, you can have a potluck and everyone brings a dish (but be sure to ask exactly what type of dish they are bringing so you don’t end up with four chicken casseroles and no salads!

Call people a month ahead or more if you’re planning a Christmas party. Any other time of the year, you may be able to call people two or three weeks in advance. Call people or send out invitations. Okay if you just groaned when I suggested invitations, then call instead. Keep a list of invitees by the phone so you can check off the people you reached and put a star beside the ones you left a message with on their answering machines and put n/a (no answer) beside the people you were unable to reach. This will keep you on track so when people call back you can check off if they are coming or not. Then you can try again another day, to call back the people that you were unable to reach.

Now, make a list of the things you need to do leading up to the party. Your list may look something like this:

1. De-clutter (for a half hour a day for a month)
2. Vacuum and dust (a few days before the party)
3. Clean bathrooms (the day of)
4. Wash kitchen floor (the day of)
5. Make a list of things to buy for the party (can be done anytime)
6. Shop (day or two before)
7. Cook (day or two before depending on what your are making
8. Set the table (day of)
9. Put out wine glasses, cork screw etc. (few hours before)
10. Get coffee maker ready for brewing (right before sitting down to dinner)

Entertaining regularly is a great way of keeping your home organized. It forces you to stay on top of the clutter. Focus on the main living spaces. If you need to put coats on your bed, then you need to clean your bedroom. If you are using your hall closet, then you need to make sure it’s neat and you have plenty of empty hangers.

Remember, your house doesn’t have to be perfect! People are coming to see you. As long as it’s neat and clean and there is room for their shoes, coats, purses, that’s what matters. It’s my secret for keeping my house organized.