Let’s Plan a Party

So my annual Christmas Party is this weekend and I’ve got to somehow pull my house, my table, and my décor together let alone myself! All within the midst of a helter skelter work week! I keep reminding myself of a fun little saying…what comes before Part B? Part A!!

I wanted to put together a little checklist (for my sanity at least) of what to do the week/day/whatever time I have before the party so I’m not pulling my hair out the day of the event and so I can (and will) enjoy my celebration…the Part B’s before the Part A!

* Clean up your nest before you feather it. No one loves to fluff and decorate more than I do, but don’t decorate a dirty nest! Wipe down your mantel, clean your tables, wash your dishes and serving pieces, wash and iron your linens, polish any silver, dust, sweep, mop, and so on and so forth. You can burn a nice candle, but the wafting scent of Pinesol and a clean house are just as wonderful as any scented candle!

* One thing I do that is a huge help is delegate. I conquer the main course, like the meat and bread, and let my friends bring on the sides and desserts. Yeah, it may be amazing to do it all yourself, but I’m all about sharing the load with some friends. This goes for the booze as well. A fully stocked bar can be expensive and time consuming…tell your friends to BYOB and check that one off the list as well…ps…I always designate a “bartender” friend to check drinks, mix drinks, and keep any eye out on supplies.

* Plan the menu in advance and be flexible. I love to serve a ham with biscuits or pork tenderloin with rolls with an array of mustards, relishes, jams, and jellies to complement. Your guests can make sandwiches (pick up items are so easy and don’t require forks, spoons, knifes, etc.) and dress them with your smorgasbord of condiments. If the grocery store is out of ham, then go with the pork tenderloins or vice versa…just be flexible and roll with it…it’s your party and you should have fun, too!

* Don’t overdo it…set realistic goals. Sure, I’d love to have everything so fabulous that it’s just unreal, but I honestly am completely satisfied with being a happy host for happy guests. Though en flambé Baked Alaska would be great for dessert, maybe stick to a classic that you know will turn out just right. “Mastering the art of French cooking” in its entirety may be overwhelming whereas one simply elegant meal would suffice.

* Let your greenery and flowers be a fun part of the prep and party. I love to use “planted compositions” like hydrangea, maidenhair fern, and ivy as floral arrangements…they last longer than cut flowers and can be planted in the garden after the party. If you’re using floral stems for arrangements, use a long lasting flower like lilies or roses en masse so that the mass makes the statement on its own and is easy to arrange. Long lasting greenery, like ginger, rosemary, evergreens, and some ferns make a great statement in simplicity or as a tonal composition. Plant a centerpiece with what’s in season and dress your home, like you would yourself, for said season.

* Wardrobe…plan your outfit in advance. Have your ensemble dry-cleaned, washed or ironed days in advance so you are not ironing your shirt in your under-drawers while the guests are arriving! Set out your outfit and allow yourself plenty of time to get ready.

* Lighting…everyone looks so good in candlelight! Lamp lights, sconces, and low overhead, like a dimmed chandelier, are great sources. Burn a fire in the fireplace and light candles for ambiance. I’m not saying you must light up your whole house with candles, but accent your serving piece or table or entry way with some candles to set a festive mood…not create a séance.

* Music at a party is like salt and pepper…it’s to taste. A small gathering can afford some soft music and large group may get a dance party started. I like modern twists on classics, like Bebo Norman’s version of “What Child is This” or Michael Buble’s “Let It Snow” album. Softly playing, music could fill up a void in conversations and help carry your ambiance through the evening. A crowd of folks will get noisy, so let the music aid your event rather than dominate it.

* Bottom line, have fun! I truly believe being an excellent host or the hostess with the “mostess” should come natural, be enjoyable, and come from your heart. Phoebe Howard, one of my absolute favorite designers, has a great saying…”You should always be the best decoration in your own house.” I like her tips as well…

I’ll share photos of the décor, food, and folks, so stay tuned. Fun parties are always conglomerations of all things this Farmer loves…good food, beautiful flowers, and great friends!

China is Provista by Man-hu
Sold at my store, Maison et Jardin in Old Cloverdale district, Montgomery, AL