Daily Archives: January 31, 2015

Diane’s tips – The list

The first thing I do when I am getting ready for any occasion is start “The List”. This includes the guest list of course, theme and or color scheme of the party and then we move on…

For parties in a restaurant or catering hallonce you decide where you want the event to take place, call and set a date and time, meet with the catering manager and take it from there. Don’t be afraid to discuss what you would like as far as a menu and if they can accommodate your theme or color scheme.

For parties at home-

Once the theme or color scheme have been decided, I write the menu.

When I have some idea of my menu, I gather all my recipes that I will need and write one shopping list for my groceries separated between perishable and non-perishable. ( I don’t usually make this the time to try out any new recipes- keep it simple and stay with the recipes you are familiar and comfortable with.) The non-perishable items you can start buying immediately to take some of the pressure off grocery shopping closer to your event. Decide if there will be any store bought items or anything catered as well and add that to the list with the store, restaurant or deli’s name and phone number.

After the grocery list and menu are complete, I put printed copies of all the recipes I will be using in a folder (either recipe cards or if a recipe is online, a printed copy). You don’t want to go from one place to another to gather the recipe directions that you need the day you start cooking. Make your life as easy, streamlined and stress free as possible. In the folder I also include a printed timeline for getting everything done, so there is no last minute panic…we’ll discuss that later.

Next, decide on the tablescape – dishes, linens, serving pieces and centerpieces. Which brings us to my next step “preparation”.


Diane’s tips- Preparation

Once you have decided on the tablescape, my next tip will definitely be a blessing. Whatever the occasion (party, sit down dinner, buffet or family holiday), make sure you set your table at least 2-3 days before the event. It sounds crazy but trust me, you will be a lot happier. It allows you enough time (while you are relaxed) to wash all the dishes, cutlery and stemware and see if anything is chipped or broken and has to be replaced and you can take your time ironing your tablecloth and napkins if needed. You have a chance to calmly look at the entire tablescape and decide if you are missing anything and tweak any little problem.

I also take out my serving pieces at this time, wash them and put post-it notes on them listing what I am serving in that particular platter or bowl. This eliminates the last minute rushing around looking for another serving bowl or platter that you forgot you needed, while the doorbell is ringing and guests are arriving.

Back to the timeline list…I usually start my timeline list for 1 week before the event and check off every item when it is completed. The list includes shopping for perishable food items and a cooking schedule ( what dishes can be made ahead of time, what needs to be made the day of the event and what has to be delivered or picked up from a caterer or restaurant). The list guarantees you don’t forget anything and all the entrees are put in the oven or on the stove top with enough cooking time to be done before your guests arrive.

A little preparation will have your get together off to a good start and you will be a happy relaxed hostess ready to enjoy all your guests.