Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Need your party planning advice!

Maybe it's a little strange, but we've never hosted a party at our house. Our old house was too small and then when we moved to our new house we wanted to fix it up before we had anyone over for a party. Well, now that we've been here for a year and we've started making the house our own, it's time to host our first holiday. We're having my family Hanukkah party here! As much as it makes me anxious and nervous, I really want to do this because it will be fun and I need the practice!

My parents usually have the family Hanukkah party so I have a lot to live up to. These are photos from last year's celebration.
Now comes the hard part...what do I do to prepare?

What tips can you share with me about planning the meal, cooking for a large group, keeping things under control, and having fun during the process?

Any fabulous party recipes or tips that I should know before I embark on this challenge?


  1. First...Make a menu of things you already know how to prepare. Keep them simple and try to think of ways you can make all or part of it in advance. Also think of a timeline for the food-making. Having to make 10 things all at the same time to be hot all at the same time can be overwhelming, but if you can start a pot of something at 11am and something else at 12pm and something else at 1pm for a meal at 2pm then you'll feel more accomplished.

    Next...I always always make several, drinks, party supplies (cups, plates, utensils, serve-ware (for the food) decorations, and timeline.

    Then...I also like to get everything out the week before a big party to make sure I HAVE everything...maybe not food, but I shop on Saturdays so for a Saturday party I'd have shopped the Saturday before.

    Also...Enlist your mom's help. I'm sure she'll be happy to assist you on your first foray into hosting the family holiday!

    Last...relax and enjoy. Something will go wrong, food will be under/overcooked, but guess what? It will all be ok!

  2. At most of our family get togethers we each bring something to share. The host always makes the main part of the meal but each family brings a side dish of some sort. Best to ask for specific items so you know what's coming and from who. Even if someone is not a "cook", they can pick up ice or bring chips and dip.

    The week of the event, I do a lot of pre chopping of ingredients so when the day comes, I have less to do.

    One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was to let people help. :)

  3. Looks like you've gotten some good advice already!

    My strategy is definitely to plan my menu making sure to choose some dishes that can be made ahead. For example, for Thanksgiving this year, I found a mushroom turkey gravy recipe that can be made a day ahead, so all I have to do the day of is heat it up. Also many doughs can be made a day ahead and then warmed up and baked as rolls the day of so there's no real prep (and heaven forbid - flour explosions!) to be done.

    Good luck!!

  4. Oh wow the first holiday party! Very exciting and oh so scary! I've hosted quite a few parties and it always seems to get stressful towards the end.

    My very best tip is to try to prepare foods that you can make in advance, prepare your meats, marinade them even partially cook them if you can.

    Also buy what you can that's prepared. By that I mean get your meats already cleaned and cut by the butcher, get baby carrots instead of 4 pounds of carrots that you'll have to peel/chop. I usually make appetizers and freeze them so choose those wisely. Lastly have fun with it!! just don't bog yourself down. You can bake every single item from scratch and enjoy your guests :)

  5., i don't see...where are the LATKES?! tell me you made latkes!

    ooh, you have chanukah crafts and decorating? did NOT know that, seriously, i am super excited to check them out. and to know there are at least 5 of us out there in blogland.

  6. We do Thankgiving and Christmas at our house and I love it! We have somewhere around 25-30 in my immediate[sisters, brothers, parents, grands] family so its a big deal.

    These are things I have learned along the way.

    Start making lists of what you will need now. And start picking up dry goods and things like napkins and plates a little at a time so that you do not overwhelm yourself the week of the party.

    Talk to family members about maybe bringing a dish to cut down on what you have to make yourself, or enlist a family member to come over and help prepare. My little sister is usually my holiday buddy, we learned to bake a turkey together.

    Make an inventory of the dishes you have, and need. I know I realized my first time that I did not have a good sized platter, or a punch bowl and I was greatly lacking in general pretty serving dishes.

    Also take stock of your seating and tables. I feel like no matter how I try, I am always short of seating, but consider where people will sit, to eat and to socialize as well as where you will put out food.

    Finally, and this is soooo important, don't be over ambitious your first time. Its ok to use store bought rolls, or disposable cutlery [they make really nice ones these days]. You don't have to try making something for the first time ever for an event. You want to have fun too so don't go into crazy super hostess mode and run around like crazy but never have a chance to enjoy your company.

    I always have to remind myself that the holidays are for enjoying my friends and family not for impressing them. And if you are heartfelt in your attempt people will be happy and comfortable.

  7. You've already gotten some great advice, but definitely prep what you can ahead of time! For Mother's Day I made scones and froze them. Then the day of, I just popped the frozen scones in the oven! Glorious.

  8. Hmmmm, I'm not any help. I've only hosted one Thanksgiving and it was like potluck, as are all our holidays and we always have the same food.


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