Sunday, 26 January 2014

Planning parties at home - and remembering what happened!

Each year, in the weeks after Christmas, I write up what happened over Christmas in my special "events" book. I find that its great when as November rolls around again and you need to start thinking about ordering prawns or making up guest lists - you can remember what happened (that is, where not to order prawns again and who not to invite this year!)

Events are in my families blood. We can all organise a birthday for 50 people without blinking and turn breakfast for four into a bit of a production when the need arises. Its something that we are not only good at, but all enjoy. We can all cook, we can all drink and we can all organise various celebrations without raising a sweat - that's a real feat in a Queensland Summer! It wont surprise you to know that many of my family is in the Hospitality trade!

Here's what I do...

I have an exercise book that I write up all my events in. I use it to plan the event and then after the event I write up what worked well and what didn't. That means if I hold a similar event, I have all the information at my finger tips when I'm planning the next one.

I start with headings:

Event name/date/place/time. Basic information, the who,where, why, what, how of the event.

Theme (is this an old fashioned tea party, a traditional English Christmas or a Eco themed Birthday party?) These headings and your entries will give you your framework for what you need to plan next.

Afternoon tea party

Guest list with room to add, delete and mark if they RSVP.

How many of these people will be invited next year??? All of them!!

Food required. I write up a menu based on the theme and number of guests and then write up a shopping list from it.

Cheese cake in a jar for a picnic dessert!

Drink required. Do I need beer? Wine? Tea? Coffee? Juice or Soft drink? Something special for this event?

Champagne? Yes Please!

Decorations required. Table clothes? Napkins? Flowers? Balloons? Candles? Pennants? Lights? Something special for this theme - Like a piƱata? Or Halloween decorations?

Reusable Halloween decorations!

Extras: Tables/Chairs/Crockery/Cutlery - what will I need to seat and feed the 5,000 that I don't already have?

Anyone for a cup of Tea?

Timetable: What is happening when? What time are the guests to arrive? What time is dinner served? What time can Myla organise charades and musical chairs? Who is on dishes duty? What time is dessert?

Who doesn't like a good dessert?

I make up a few lists:

To Make (decorations, food, invitations)
To Buy (food, drink, special decorations)
To Do (put up fairy lights, mow lawn, post invites)
To Get ( Extra chairs, party hats, flowers, small jars to put flowers in!)
To Ask (Anita to make her fabulous chocolate cake)
To Get the Husband to do (mow the lawn, put up the fairy lights, have a shower and be awake when the guests arrive!)

Getting organised...

And I run off these lists until the event is actually happening!

A big must if you are hosting or organising an event is to enjoy it. There is no point in going to all this trouble if you are too busy organising to enjoy it!

Hmmm... Another glass of wine? Why not...

After the clean up and chatting to people about how it went over the next few days, I write up a quick round up on the last page of the event in my book.

I simply note what went well;
  • Prawns were great - order again but get an extra kilo.
  • 10kg of ham fed 18 people amply with a bit left over for the week.
  • Aunty Carroll's mango/avocado/bacon salad was great - get her to make it again.
  • Table size was perfect - use all three for 16 - 18 people next year
  • Ant traps on buffet table legs worked really well!

And what I would change for next time;
  • 2pm was too hot for late December - try 4pm.
  • Asked Guests to bring wine and they all drank the cider. Ask some to bring cider next time.
  • Only needed 1/4 of the tartar and seafood sauce.
  • Fly net needs to be wider - ends got dunked in the food.

Its amazing what you will forget from year to year. Where did we get the prawns from? Was it the Butcher last year or the Seafood place? Whose were bigger/better/fresher? How many salads did we have? Was it too many or too few? Did they all get eaten? Where did I get the extra chairs from? Was it the neighbour or from a friend?

By writing it all down - and just quick notes is all you need, not an essay - you save yourself the hassle of not needing to remember that it was the neighbours table we borrowed for the buffet table and it was the PERFECT size or that you can freeze mince pies four weeks before Christmas and pull them out in the morning to eat at lunchtime with no problems whatsoever!

Its something that takes ten minutes but can save you a huge amount of grief and stress down the track, even if you don't do huge events like we do!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for saving yourself from buying the wrong things year after year cause you cant remember weather it worked or not and you know you bought it last year...
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for saving money and sanity!
Time cost: Maybe ten minutes...?
Skill level: Basic recall after the event (maybe harder if you had a bit too much to drink of course!)
Fun-ness: Great fun to pull off a event year after year that just keeps getting better and better!

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