Party season is upon us, which means it’s time to sharpen your hosting skills. If you are planning an event and looking to save some money by doing the catering yourself, you may feel a little overwhelmed with all of the planning and preparation that lies ahead. With a good strategy and some helpful tips, you will be able to pull off a polished event just like a pro!
Make a Budget, and Stick to it
When planning a party, the number one step is to determine your budget and stick to it as best as possible. An event can quickly become costly with decorations, food, and sometimes rentals. Decide what you can spend and trim the things that aren’t necessary if you think you are getting to the high end of your budget.
Create a Guest List
In addition to having a list for sending out invitations, a guest list will give you an idea of what your budget will be. Deciding on the amount of food you will need to buy will likely be your most considerable expense. Get your invites out early so you know what your numbers are.
Decide on a Theme
Choose a theme for your party, and it will help guide the ambiance and menu. Maybe you’re throwing a birthday party or even a small wedding. Decorations can be kept cheap by borrowing items from friends or making your own. Avoid renting decorations if you can, and remember, sometimes simple decor can be the most elegant and understated.
Develop a Menu
Now that you have a budget, a guest list, and a theme, write down ideas and start creating your menu. If you are having a casual party, heavy passed hors-d'oeuvres are ideal so guests don’t have to use a knife and fork while chatting. Are you hosting a sit-down dinner? Think of a three-course meal starting with a salad, then the main dish, and an easy but delicious dessert. Setting up a buffet-style dinner is an easy way to alleviate the responsibility of serving and clearing dishes during dinner and allows you to enjoy your party with everyone else.
Make a Grocery List
Once your menu is decided, make a detailed grocery list to make your shopping trip as easy and quick as possible. Read through each recipe thoroughly and check your pantry for simple ingredients you may already have so that you don’t double buy. Take time to carefully compare prices and make sure that you are saving where possible and spending more where necessary. If you are serving a meat dish, this is where you will likely spend the most money.
Prepare as Much Ahead of Time
An essential step to success is prep! Make a list of all of the prep work you can do ahead of time. In addition to prepping your ingredients for easy food execution, set out your serving ware, make up the table, organize the bar, and decorate. Having the majority of the setup for your event done ahead of time will guarantee you don’t forget something, and it will alleviate same-day stress so you can relax and enjoy all your hard work.
Now that you have a guide to cater your party, all that’s left to do is pick the date. Happy hosting!