Cooking For A Crowd
Entertaining - Planning a Party
Recipes for Quantity Cooking

Entertaining - Planning a Party
Tips for planning an unforgettable party

Design the party to suit your personality. If you're more comfortable with a casual buffet than a formal affair, that's the way you should plan it. And if the hostess is relaxed and having a good time, the guests will enjoy themselves, too. Even when things don't go exactly as planned, a hostess who can rise to the occasion will impress guests with her flair for enjoyment and spontaneity.

Be sure to greet all of your guests. They must feel you're truly glad to see them. If the salad wilts and the dinner rolls burn, your guests will hardly notice if they feel welcome. To avoid the harried-hostess feeling, you must allow for ample planning and preparation well ahead of time. You might discover that planning the party can be almost as much fun as the party itself.

Make lists of things to do with a time schedule.

Keep updated guest list.

Keep list of tables, serving pieces or other supplies you may need to rent or borrow.

Do cleaning and polishing tasks well ahead of time.

Place special food orders well in advance.

Allow some extra time for the unexpected -- it always takes longer than one thinks to get things organized. Some built-in time could be a lifesaver.

Five Ingredients for a Perfect Party!

Plan thoroughly so you know exactly what you need.

Invite congenial guests who enjoy each other's company.

Serve plenty of well-prepared food. Don't skimp on quality.

Set an attractive table - it shows you care enough to make an extra effort.

Enjoy yourself. Your guests will take their cues from you.

Decide On What Type Of Party You Want

Depending on your personal taste, budget, and space, what kind of party will it be? A formal sit-down dinner? Outdoor barbecue? Or an appetizing hor d'oeuvre buffet?

Server-yourself setups encourage mingling, and with a wide array of finger foods, you eliminate the need for individual seating.

Within your budget, a wide range of choices is available in food selection (from steak to hamburger), beverages (from champagne to party punches), and even centerpieces.

Choosing A Theme And Creating An Atmosphere

Centering your party around one focal point gives you reason to coordinate everything -- from the invitations and decorations right down to the food.

Your color choice and background music can reflect your theme.

Many occasions suggest an obvious theme. An upcoming trip to Hawaii provides a perfect excuse for a Hawaiian luau, complete with tropical fruits and flowers.

Birthdays call for kids' party themes that interest the celebrant -- whether it's baseball, dinosaurs, or cartoon characters.

Almost any personal experience can become the reason for celebration. Your theme could be based on a holiday such as Christmas or a special event such as Election Day.

Although a theme can make planning easier, it's not necessary to follow one every step of the way. Use your own good judgment, because it's really the guests and food that will make your party memorable.


Telephoning and face-to-face invitations are appropriate for casual, even spur-of-the-moment get-togethers.

Written invitations herald the excitement of a more significant event.

Create your own personal invitations. Consider a small plastic sandwich bag filled with confetti, tied with colorful ribbon and mailed or delivered to invitees for a New Year's Eve party.

Invitations should be mailed out two or three weeks in advance. For wedding receptions or larger parties, mail four weeks in advance. Always put an RSVP with a date by which you'd like replies.


Flowers and candles or groups of candles

Use what you have on hand. Display an antique vase or unique pottery piece, with fruits, nuts, shells, or greenery.

Creative uses with fruit. (i.e. for a teacher's luncheon, place shiny red apples, cored and filled with small clusters of flowers at each place setting.

Baskets filled with a variety of breads and cheeses. A basket of decorated eggs or jars of jelly beans makes for a simple, yet colorful centerpiece.

Think seasonal. For a fall menu, arrange purple grapes with pears on a cake stand with tendrils of ivy spilling over.

A spectacular dessert can serve as a centerpiece.

Place Cards

For formal parties, place cards are very helpful. These can be as simple as a white folded-over card with a guest's name on it or as fancy as a small trinket/party favor with a name tag. Once again, let your imagination and resources be your guide.

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