So, your menu has been picked, your guests have RSVP’d, your table is set, your flowers are arranged, and you probably have at least one dish done (preferably dessert).
So now what?
First of all, you should make a list of everything you have left to do. This should include: kids food prep, finishing each course and what exactly must be done, setting out drinks including water and wine, and getting dressed/putting makeup on.
Then rewrite you list in the order you would like to accomplish it. Here are a few suggestions:
Get the kids food out of the way. I usually have a veggie with a dip platter, some pasta, and maybe some boiled eggs. Frankly, the kids don’t each much because they are too busy playing. Also, do yourself a favor and use paper plates/cups/napkins/silverware here. I like to use my leftover paper from other dinners and/or birthday parties. Also, I like box drinks because that way you don’t have to help the kids pour all night long.
Get dressed and put your makeup on 2 hours before dinner. I know most people want to finish everything and then get dressed, but I have found work tends to pile up at the end and I am often caught with stringy hair and sweatpants. Better yet, do your hair and makeup at the beginning of the day so all you have to do is throw a fresh frock on and touch up your makeup.
Have something for your guests (especially the women) to do in the kitchen. Everyone, and I mean everyone asks if there is anything they can do, and you probably tell them, “no, I have everything under control”. Well dont. Save something easy like chopping lettuce, peeling eggs, or some other menial chore for them to do. It breaks the ice, gives your guest a feeling of empowerment because they are helping, and takes one more thing off your list.
One hour before you are supposed to eat, be sure your soup is DONE and just keep it warm on the stove top. Take anything out of the fridge that needs to come to room temperature, and put any casserole in the oven to bake. Your salad should be done by now, but if not, now is the time to do it. Just don’t put the dressing on (unless it is a coleslaw) until it is time to serve. Oh, and if you are having whipped cream with dessert, whip it now and save it in the fridge. I have often found myself in the kitchen whipping cream when I should have been with my guests.
By now your guests are starting to arrive. Get your husband or partner to serve drinks. We just serve beer and wine. However, if you like hard alcohol, it is nice to mix up a pitcher of your ‘signature’ drink and have it on a table with some glasses for your guests to help themselves.
And finally, remember not to let them see you sweat. Souffle fall? Don’t tell them. Meat overcooked? Don’t say anything. Mashed potatoes gummy? Mums the word. Never tell your guests how hard you worked or how something didn’t work. I find this to be very difficult, and I don’t always succeed, but do your best NOT to point out the imperfections in your meal.
So, good luck! Please, let me know if any of you take any of this week’s advice in throwing a dinner party. It would really make my day to know that my experience has helped someone.