Make a List and Check it Twice

Make a List and Check it Twice

Keeping a succession of lists can be key to successful party and dinner planning. Many of us try to keep the details in our heads and not on paper. In cases like this, even the most focussed person will find all the specifics will disappear from their mind as quickly as they appeared and will not be remembered until it is too late. Lists also prevent that stressful feeling of having a million things spinning around your head all at once, and not knowing how to prioritize.

Make a list of everything that needs doing – decorations, food preparation, invitations, cleaning the best crockery/cutlery/glasses, cooking utensils required…basically, anything that comes to mind when you think about your party or dinner. Carry your list with you and write things down the minute they pop into your head. Then as you deal with each item on the list you can cross it off and feel reassured that you are progressing nicely with your plans, and not forgetting anything along the way.

Make a separate note of your menu, and beneath it list all the ingredients you will require. Go through each recipe to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Cross off items you already have in your cupboards and then save the rest for your pre-party shopping trip. Again, this way you shouldn’t forget anything.

Draw up a “Plan of Action.” This will remind you of when you need to do things on the lead up to and during your event. Keep a track of when things need to be prepared, put in the oven, taken out of the freezer… Keep your “Plan of Action” somewhere handy but discreet so you can refer to it as you go along and know exactly what you need to be doing (and when you can relax with your guests for a while).

While you’re cooking, make notes alongside your recipes. If you feel a cooking time was a little too long or too short, if you feel a recipe would have been better with more or less seasoning than stated, if you discover a way to put your own personal touch on a recipe, jot it down in pencil so that you can refer to it the next time you make that recipe – this will be especially useful if you are cooking a dish for your party and your mind is on other things.

In “101 Best Party Recipes,” Edith M Barber recommends keeping a record of each party you organize. Include details of the number of guests, their names, the menu you served, which recipes you used, the average cost. Add anything to this list you think might be useful for another time.

Keep a ring binder or notebook specifically for party and dinner planning and add all these lists and notes you have made to it for later reference. The next time you plan a party or dinner, the previous one, or two previous, or three previous will probably be long forgotten and these notes will mean that much of the work is already done for you. You can take your original list and adapt it to the new event, you can see what worked and what didn’t and avoid any previous problems, you can see which guests have already enjoyed certain dishes at former events and decide whether something new is in order.

Keeping written records will take so much of the stress and strain out of planning your event and enable you to enjoy it more. These records will also make you feel more confident from party to party, dinner to dinner, because they will remind you that you have successfully negotiated pitfalls in the past and still provided your guests with an event to remember (for all the right reasons).

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