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.