Here is a 45 day "count down" calendar. I have found that using a calendar to schedule preparations avoids last minute panic. This is intended as a guide and can certainly be modfied to fit your individual needs (For example, you can modify this to a 30-day countdown).
DAYS 40 - 45:
1.) Determine budget
2.) Decide party type --- cocktails only; cocktails & light lunch; buffet dinner; etc.
3.) Determine decorating needs ---flowers, candles, holiday decor, etc. Roughly estimate the cost and subtract from budget.
4.) Determine rental items needed --- hot chafing dishes, tables, serving trays, etc. Call around and get prices. Estimate total cost and subtract from budget.
5.) Determine purchases needed --- invitations, napkins, glassware, etc. Estimate the total cost. Subtract from budget.
6.) Decide if you want hired staff for the evening, such as bartender, servers, etc. Call around for rates. Estimate the total cost. Subtract from budget.
Once you have subtracted the above 4 costs categories, the balance of the budget can be devoted to food and beverage.
7.) a.) Determine bar needs including mixer, fruits, etc, using not more than 1/2 the budget.
b.) Add up all the ounces of wine you will be buying and divide by 16.
c.) Add up all the ounces of liquor you will be buying and divide by 8.
*d.) Add the two totals together. This is the number of people you can afford to invite, based on 4 drinks per person.
* If this total is MORE than your entertaining space can hold --- great! You can now plan your party for fewer people, leaving a larger portion of the budget for the food table or for extras.
DAYS 35 - 39:
1.) Determine type of dress.
2.) determine guest list.
3.) Purchase invitations that reflect the style of the party.
* Remember, not everyone you adore will adore each other. sometimes having two smaller parties, close together, makes for a better mix of people.
DAYS 31 - 34:
1.) Prepare invitations and address envelopes.
It is important that every invitation include the following:
a.) CORRECT name, correctly spelled, and correct address on the envelopes. Be sure your return address is on the front of the envelope.
b.) Type of gathering...cocktails only, etc.
c.) Month, day and year.
d.) Beginning and ending times.
e.) Street address and city where party is to be held.
f.) Name of host and/or hostess.
g.) Your telephone number.
h.) Date RSVP needed --- 7 days prior to party.
i.) Any special instructions (parking arrangements, etc).
MAIL THE INVITATIONS !!!
1.) Order and arrange date for heavy work such as carpets cleaned, furniture moved, etc.
2.) Order plants and cut flowers. Have delivered day before party.
3.) Order rental items. Have delivered 2 days before party.
4.) Arrange for bartender and any serving staff needed.
5.) Make appointments --- hair cut (4 days before), hair style, nails, body message (12 noon to 3: pm day of party).
DAYS 20 - 28:
1.) Call liquor store and make arrangements to pick up supplies 5 days prior to party. Let them deliver if they can.
2.) Make a list of all ingredients and items neede for food & beverage.
3.) Purchase non-perishables, decorations, glassware, linens, untensils, etc.
DAYS 12 - 19:
1.) Clean and polish EVERYTHING!
a.) Clean windows, wood work, high areas.
b.) Clean heating and A/C grills and screens.
c.) Clean fireplaces.
d.) Clean lights, chandeliers and lamps, replacing bulbs as you go.
e.) Clean refridgerator and kitchen appliances as well as cabinets.
f.) Wash china, silver, crystal and serving dishes.
g.) Polish brass, silver, copper.
h.) Remove draperies and curtains and have cleaned or laundered, if needed. If not, just air fluff them in dryer to freshen.
DAYS 7 - 11:
1.) Have draperies re-hung.
2.) Have carpets and furniture cleaned.
3.) Have furniture moved to proper locations.
4.) Pack away fragile and all un-necessary items.
5.) Sort throgh and make music selections.
1.) Check RSVP list and call anyone you have not heard from.
2.) Call flower shop, rental company, staffing firm to confirm time of arrival.
3.) Make out final shopping list.
1.) Pick up or have delivered all wines and liquors.
2.) Purchase everything possible except fragile fruits. Freeze meats and seafood until needed.
3.) Bake any cookies, cakes and breads. Wrap heavily and freeze.
1.) Have haircut if needed.
2.) Clean bathrooms and guest powder rooms.
3.) Clean and freshen guest bedroom.
4.) Decorate high areas such as chandeliers, hall lights, mirrors, stairways, railings and outside lighting.
1.) Clean and decorate any room or area that will not be used prior to the party.
1.) Rental equipment being delivered.
2.) Arrange and set up food and bar areas.
3.) Finish all decorating except flowers.
4.) Bake desserts.
5.) Do cooking prep work ---slice, dice, chop. Wrap seperately and refridgerate in sealed containers.
1.) Flowers and plants being delivered---clip ends on cut flowers. Dip ends into very warm water. Immediately place in container of cold water.
2.) Decorate with plants.
3.) Cook al meat dishes which can be served cold or can be re-heated and finished at last minutes. Refridgerate.
4.) Make dressings and sauces.
5.) Remove foods from freezer to thaw.
6.) Wash pots and pans and put away.
7.) Clean kitchen and floor.
8.) Dust and polish all furniture and wood surfaces.
9.) Arrange china, crystal, flatware, napkins, serving utensils and bar supplies.
10.) Purchase fruits and vegetables.
7: am Eat a hearty breakfast.
8: am Finish topping & decorating any desserts.
9: am Slice, cut and wedge any fruits or vegetables needed at bar or for garnish. Slice and arrange cheese. Refridgerate.
1.) Arrange cut flowers and candles in appropriate areas.
2.) Check powder rooms ---clean towels, new soap, toilet paper.
3.) Put out trash containers ---under buffet table, behind plants, etc.
4.) Make sure dishwasher is cleaned out.
1.) Keep appointments for hair, nails, etc.
2.) Bring home ice. Lots of it!
3: pm Eat a light meal.
1.) Open jars of olives, pickles, relishes, etc and place in serving dishes. Discard the jars. Arrange the dishes on the tables.
2.) Put out crackers, cheese, etc.
3 hrs Before:
1.) Wash, dry, curl hair (if not already done).
2.) Bathe in tub. Soak in scented, very warm water for 15 minutes.
3.) Moisturize and then lie down. Try to sleep 30 minutes. If unable to sleep, read for 15 minutes and then close eyes for 15 minutes.
1-1/2 hrs Before:
1.) Gently re-heat foods.
2.) Place hot foods in heated chafing dishes. Light burners and keep on very low.
3.) Set out all foods possible.
4.) Wash up dishes and put away (or at least hide them!)
5.) Make last walk through to straighten and fluff
45 Mins Before:
1.) Comb and arrange hair and makeup.
20 Mins Before:
1.) Light candles and adjust lamps.
2.) Start music.
3.) Turn on outside lights.
4.) Put out ice.
5.) Stir hot foods.
8.) Answer the Door!
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