Setting the Mood
Keep the lighting low, not so low you cannot see, unless you are looking for that "nightclub" feel. Everyone wants to be able to see what they are eating and drinking.
Cleaning Before and After
Relax, this is a fun thing!
Before: Unless you are throwing a black tie affair, then hire the cleaners. Otherwise tidy up and make sure you cannot write your name in the dust. It is only going to get dirty anyway. My one exception is the place everyone snoops...the bathroom. Make sure it is spotless. Put out disposable guest towels (they look like high end napkins).
After: Enlist the help of a dear friend to pick the big stuff up and then leave the rest until the next day.
Putting it all together
Three weeks before:
Send out the invitations
Start planning the menu, theme and music
Two weeks before:
If you have the freezer space make and freeze your hors d'oeuvres
Inventory your serving platters and utensils. If you are using chafing dishes check the Sterno.
Buy and (WAIT! AND WHAT?) decorations, napkins and anything non-perishable you may need.
One week before:
Put your game plan down on paper for the party day. Schedule your time accordingly for set up and last day food preparation. Always give yourself 20-30 minutes more than you think is necessary. You want everything done before the first guest arrives.
Call the friend or friends who will be helping with set up/break down
Count the RSVPs and contact anyone invited who has not yet responded
One day before:
Pick up flowers if you are using any
Prep any foods that need to be made at the last minute
Set up the party space: rearrange any furniture if necessary; set up the bar
Clean the bathroom
Two hours before:
Double-check everything. Make a last minute run to the store or better yet have your "helper" do this—this is the time to make a last-minute run to the store.
Set up the bar and cut up the garnishes
One hour before:
Reheat or thaw any frozen hors d'oeuvres
Get dressed and ready to go
Thirty minutes before:
Ice down the beverages if using buckets or tubs for service
Put room temperature food out
Light the Sternos if using chafing dishes
Put on the music, set the lights, light any candles you will be using
Fifteen minutes before:
Put food into the chafing dishes
Relax and pour yourself a drink
Make ahead recipes
Here are some classic cocktail party menus not seen much anymore, but still fantastic!
Dipping Bowl for vegetables or crackers
The Thirst Inviter:
- 1 large clove of garlic grated
- 2 chopped hard boiled eggs
- 1 pint/500ml sour cream
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon grated horseradish
- 2 tablespoons/30ml chili sauce
Blend the sour cream and garlic. Beat in with a wooden spoon eggs, horseradish and dry mustard. Add remaining ingredients. Let chill in refrigerator at least two hours.
- 6 hard boilded eggs
- 2 tablespoons/30ml anchovy paste
- 1 TB chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon/5ml lemon juice
Cut eggs in half length wise. Remove egg yolks. Mash egg yolks and combine with remaining ingredients. Spoon or pipe mixer into the egg whites with a pastry bag. Garnish with chopped parsley, paprika a slice of olive or pickled onion.
- 12 slices fine grained salami sliced thing
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 1 package of cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons/45ml chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon/5ml dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon/2ml dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon/5ml grated horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon/2ml salt
Cut the salami slices in half and wind them around your pinky to form cornucopias (horns). Press the edges together and place thim in a large mesh rack. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Blend the cream cheese with the remaining ingredients until smooth. Fill a pastry bag and fill the salami return to refrigerator until ready to serve.