The best rule to keep in mind when planning a party is the five Ps: prior planning prevents poor performance. If you’re planning a party for Valentine’s Day, here are 10 tips to help you entertain with ease.
1. Prepare ahead of time. Plan your menu to avoid any of your guests’ food allergies or dietary restrictions. Alternatively, serve a buffet with a wide variety of foods from which to choose. Choose to prepare familiar recipes. It’s not the ideal situation to try out a complicated dish for the first time.
2. Make a master grocery list. Include every item each recipe calls for, even staples like butter and salt. You don’t want to discover you only have one egg in the middle of preparing a meal.
3. Offer many types of beverages. Keep a few bottles of both red and white wine as well as nonalcoholic drinks like soda and bottled water.
4. Put out snacks as your guests arrive. Nuts, chips, dip, cheese and crackers are all-time favorites. Choose appetizers that are easy to eat in one bite. Large hors d’oeuvres can be messy and difficult to handle — especially while mingling with friends and family.
5. Do as much as you can the day before. Complete small tasks early so you can focus on entertaining on the day of your party. Clean and polish any serving pieces, fill the salt and pepper shakers and set the table.
6. Iron your linens. Provide linen cocktail napkins or holiday-themed paper cocktail napkins when serving beverages and appetizers. For dinner, linen napkins provide an elegant backdrop for your meal.
7. Set out candles. Easy and inexpensive, candles are a great way to set the mood and make your home feel warm and inviting. Place only unscented candles at the dinner table; fragrant items can overpower food aromas. Light the candles throughout your home 15 minutes before your guests arrive and light the candles at the dinner table just before everyone sits down.
8. Preset a party playlist. Music sets the tone of any party. Program your iPod, iPhone or CD player to play classic holiday music or your favorite tunes throughout the evening.
9. Prepare coffee and tea service. Set up your coffeemaker about an hour before your guests arrive. Put coffee cups, saucers, teaspoons and a variety of teas on a side table. Place cream, milk, sugar and sweetener in decorative containers.
10. Schedule time for yourself. Set aside time to shower, get dressed and look your best. Take a moment to relax before you greet your guests. Take advantage of each moment with your friends and family and enjoy your holiday party.
What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?