So you want to throw a big bash where friends and family have a great time. Where even YOU, as host or hostess, have a great time. With a little event planning, clever thinking and some delegating, you can pull off an epic theme party with aplomb, have a blast and look great doing it!
First of all, put together a guest list. If you’re planning an event for a large gathering, invite 20 percent more people than you want to attend. For one reason or another, only 70 to 80 percent of invitees will make an appearance.
Once you decide who to invite, choose a party theme for your special event. Maybe it’s a favorite football team, the holiday that’s in season, or a murder mystery theme. Whatever works for your crowd, party themes help you brainstorm for all kinds of party ideas and will help you design invitations and decorations, choose a menu and set the mood. Maybe a carefully selected movie projected onto a wall can provide a backdrop; or a few inflatable palm trees and pirate flags might bring beaches to mind. Add appropriate music and you’ve set the scene!
If you’re looking for more creative party planning ideas, feel free to contact a party planner at Buca di Beppo. Our professionals have lots of party theme ideas to share, including advice on party venues. You may want to hold the festivities at your home, a park, or an unexpected place for a party, such as a bed-and-breakfast with a huge fireplace, a theater or a rooftop overlooking a city. Or, like many of our customers, you may decide the most convenient, comfortable place for a party is at a great restaurant with party rooms that meet your needs perfectly.
Once you know who, what and when, send out invitations that fit your party theme — snail mail, e-mail, even phone invites are all acceptable — then start planning the party menu. For those dishes you’ll prepare yourself, choose only recipes you can make ahead, and perhaps freeze, with just warming and assembly required on party day. Make a list of how far in advance each can be made and compile a shopping list.
Easier still, plan to make only one item, such as a dessert or appetizer you know you’re good at. Place an order with your local Buca di Beppo, delicatessen and/or bakery to supply the rest. Never feel guilty about this. None of your guests will blame you a bit! Smart hostesses take advantage of catering restaurants to do the bulk of the cooking – or ALL of the cooking –for them.
And be sure to get help! If you do this all by yourself, you’ll be exhausted at your own celebration. If you don’t have young friends or relatives you can draft into service, consider hiring a high school student, a party planner from a catering restaurant, or both, to help with pre- or post-party tasks, to pass drinks or appetizers, replenish buffet food, tidy up, and generally take some weight off your shoulders.
If you’re party planning for an at-home celebration, there are a number of tasks to consider:
- Clean your house thoroughly a week ahead of time. Hopefully you’ll just need to hit the high spots come party day.
- Round up your silver, crystal, serving dishes and table linens for polishing, washing and ironing. If you don’t have enough serving dishes for every dish, consider purchasing inexpensive pieces from a discount or thrift store. Catering restaurants like Buca di Bepo frequently provide attractive serving dishes for takeout feasts.
- Stock your home’s bar. Plan three bottles of wine for every four people, three to four cocktails per guest for a two- to three-hour party. If you’re not serving alcohol, pull together the ingredients for a party punch or gather softdrinks.
- Let your neighbors know if your gathering will be loud, late or create parking challenges.
- Check the medicine cabinet and put away anything personal.
- Gathering cleaning supplies, such as a box of salt, Wine Away (red wine stain remover), club soda, and a couple of rags in a wicker basket, and store a few in strategic places to alleviate spills.
- Specify a place for coats – either a closet with lots of coat hangers or a bed in a spare room.
- Set the table. If you’re serving dessert and coffee, you might want to put them on a separate buffet or coffee table to help distribute your crowd.
Of course, Buca di Beppo can help. You can take advantage of our party catering menu for some or all of your food. Buca delivers in many locations and provides curbside Italian takeaway at every one of our restaurants. And we offer even more hosting help when you reserve one of our party rooms. We’re totally set up as a party venue, our food is delicious and our staff divine, so we make everything really easy.
Party Planning Checklist
Three Weeks Before
Line up any help you may need.
Two Weeks Before
Clean any crystal, china, and silverware you’ll be using. Launder and iron linens.
Come up with a playlist. Music should be upbeat and sufficient to last throughout the party.
Do a first round of grocery shopping and cooking. Prepare any dishes that can be frozen.
One Week Before
Clean the house thoroughly. You’ll need only a quick once-over before the party.
Set the stage, letting your theme be your guide!
Take inventory of cookware and serving dishes.
Three Days Before
Decorate. Arrange candles, put up theme decorations, etc.
Check the medicine cabinet. Put away any personal items.
Set up clean-up stations. Place a box of salt, Wine Away (red wine stain remover), club soda, and a couple of rags in a wicker basket, and store a few in strategic places to alleviate spills.
Specify a place for coats. Make space in a closet and fill it with hangers. You could also choose a bed for coats (make sure the room is especially tidy and free of valuables, so you won’t need to worry about them), or purchase an inexpensive portable garment rack.
Finish grocery shopping if you’re cooking. Make a detailed cooking schedule for your remaining dishes.
One Day Before
Set the tables or set up the buffet.
Finish as much of the cooking as you can. Also, for any foods that require cooking on party day, do as much prep (dicing, marinating, rinsing lettuce, etc.) as possible.
Give your house a once-over with whatever cleaning touch-ups are needed.
Finish any last-minute cooking. Thanks to restaurant delivery and party catering, this should be absolutely minimal! Simply pick up takeout food at the catering restaurants from which you’ve ordered. Better yet, use restaurants that deliver to have great goodies appear on your doorstep!
Place chairs. Don’t worry about having enough seating for everyone; fewer seats encourages mingling!
Display food. One to two hours before guests arrive, set out appetizers and snacks that won’t spoil. Wrap them tightly to ensure freshness, then tear off the wrap when the first guest rings the doorbell.
Greet your guests warmly! Things should be organized so you’re free to mingle, not stay tied to the kitchen.