The holidays usually means lots of people and even more food. Family reunions, weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and so many reasons to get together. That also means a lot of work on your part if you’re the one preparing the meals or hosting the get together. You don’t have to wait until the last minute to do everything for it to be delicious. I love entertaining and always volunteer to host or cook (or even both). With all my entertaining I’ve learned a few things and want to share them with you to help you prep for get togethers.
Gather Your Ideas
Really start our with everything you’d like to include. You can do this on paper if that’s easier for you or start a Pinterest board to gather ideas. You can set your board to private if you don’t want everyone to know your plans or if you’re planning with someone else, you can add them to the board so you can both add things. Since it’s super helpful for me to have paper copies to make notes on, I usually use a notebook, or even a three ring binder for larger events, to keep myself organized.
If you know me at all, you know that I love a good list. With so many different things happening, I can’t remember it all. And when you start planning a few weeks before the occasion, you’re not going to remember every little thing you thought about or wanted to include. You’ll need a grocery list for the ingredients you’ll need. Another list for decorations or favors you’ll want to pick up. Don’t forget a guest list too. If there are things you want to get done around the house before your get together, make sure you have a list of those things too. Need some printables to help you stay organized? Try these ones out!
Have a Timeline
Take your ideas and look at them. Really look at them. Figure out how long you plan for everything to take and be realistic. I use a blank calendar and start adding things to the calendar in pencil. Yup pencil. There will be adjustments to be made and it’s so much easier to be able to erase things. Be sure to ink in things that are non-negotiable (your child’s school program, church services, ect) so you don’t over book yourself. As the calendar starts to fill up, look at your list and determine what things you have to have for your get together and what things would be nice to have but you really don’t need. Be sure the have to items are on the calendar and if there’s space left, go ahead and add in the would be nice things that you’ll have time for. And don’t forget to account for shopping trips, prep time, decorating time, and some time for yourself to relax.
Start picking things up from your list as you see them on sale. Use your timeline as reference. When you’re working on a budget, pick up the things you’ll need soonest. That way you won’t be struggling to figure out how to afford everything or to find space to store it before you need it. Also go through and see what you’ve got around that might be able to work so that you don’t need to buy something new. Repurpose things. You don’t have to follow the Pinterest directions exactly – you can put your own spin on things. Check with friends and see what they have that you can use too.
When I shop for things and am buying pieces at a time, I keep a large plastic tote to keep everything together and in one place. For dishes I plan to make, I get a gallon sized zip top bag. Inside I put a copy of the recipe and all the ingredients that don’t need to be refrigerated, even measuring out the spices and everything to put into a smaller plastic containers. When I’m ready to make it, I just grab the bag and get to work. It really saves a lot of time having everything right there for you to grab and go. I even pull out the baking and serving dishes and label them with sticky notes to make sure I have everything I need. You can also do a test run with your empty dishes to set them up and make sure everything fits before the big day. If you need some recipe ideas, check out my Recipes to Try board over on Pinterest.
Get to Work
Use your calendar to keep yourself on track. It can be overwhelming to look at a huge long list, or see your full calendar. Because you took your huge, long list of things to do and broke them out into smaller pieces, it’ll be more manageable for you. If you’re doing different steps in the process, be sure to note where you left off so you’ll know where to pick up when you’re able to come back and finish. For example, if you’re making your cookie dough ahead of time and freezing it, mark on the bag or container what kind of dough it is, what temperature it needs to bake at, and for how long.
You’ve worked so hard to put everything together. Take time to enjoy the get together once it finally arrives. Remember your guests won’t know what’s missing unless you tell them so don’t worry if all the decor didn’t get made or put out the way you’d planned. They’re there to spend time and enjoy your company – not judge you on your cooking and crafting abilities.
What do you do that helps you plan your get togethers? Share your tips in the comments below.