Stress-free party planning is the name of the game when you have 5 birthdays a year, plus First Communion, Graduation, and anything else that comes along. I was so thrilled when my mother-in-law told me a few years ago that my husband and I do a good job throwing a party. It made all those years of practicing worth it!
A Word About Hospitality
Your guests are coming to celebrate your occasion and to spend time with you and your family. Yes, they would love a clean bathroom. Don’t we all? They know you have kids. They know there will be toys and some mess. It’s really okay.
Only Clean The Rooms Being Used for the Party
Decide which rooms you will be using for the party. Most people use their kitchen, dining room, and sometimes the porch for hosting parties. If you want the kids to have a separate play area, include that room in your cleaning list. Don’t forget the bathroom!
Put away anything that doesn’t belong in these spaces. I typically will put stuff away and declutter; you don’t have to if it’s too overwhelming. Clean the flat surfaces (think no dust), and vacuum under most of the furniture. At the minimum, vacuum the visible areas.
If you find yourself seeing things that need to be fixed, write them down on a list for after the party. Sometimes when we’re looking at a room with fresh eyes, we see things that we’ve grown used to. If the thing that needs to be fixed really bothers you, hide it or remove it.
Stage Your Home
Clear off as many flat surfaces as you can in the areas you will be using for the party. This will give you places to put appetizer dishes or set up a drink station. You could also set up a display for First Communion, Graduation, or a First Birthday.
Make sure your guests have as many places to sit as possible. If it’s a sit-down meal, then you’ll need enough chairs for the table. You may be able to borrow folding chairs from a family member, friend or neighbor. For buffet-style entertaining, guests will need places to perch with their plates. The older guests will need a place to sit, and possibly a table.
I also have 2 small folding tables which I bring out for parties. Since we don’t have a coffee table in the living room, our guests have few places to put their food and drink. I set up the 2 folding tables as a temporary coffee table.
Decide where the food and beverage areas will be. We usually set up the beverage station in the kitchen, though it’s tough to negotiate with all the traffic. I set the food up in the dining room. The cold and room temperature food are on our dining room table, while I use the buffet for the hot plate and hot dishes.
Write out a plan for the 2 weeks before the party
Put your plan on paper or in your electronic planner, and give yourself 2 weeks to do the party prep. You don’t need to buy the party supplies the week of the party. Reduce your stress by doing that 2 to 3 weeks ahead of time. If you can make food ahead of time and freeze it, do it. Just remember to write a note about defrosting the food on your plan.
My Party Planning Lists
- Create a Birthday Party in 24 Hours
- How to Stage Your Home for Entertaining
- How to Teach Kids about Hospitality and Serving Others
- Teaching Kids Community Through Food