Planning a cocktail party can be tons of fun, or it can also be super stressful. I try and aim for the first option, and being uber organized helps to keep the fun quotient during the process fairly high. Reminding yourself along the way that not everything has to be perfect is also extremely helpful to keep the stress level down. Guests are just happy to be enjoying a party, and so should the host. Here is what I did the other day to get things ready.
TPS was extremely busy getting all the details of the conference in order, so I was flying solo in the party planning department. Relieving him of that stress was my gift to him, as I was so proud of all the hard work he had put into making the event a success. I had the better part of the day to get things in order, so I cranked the tunes and set about getting all ready. Making a list is paramount on getting things done and lowering the stress level. My list for this event is on the post from yesterday.
Part of my party planning thought is, not everything has to be made from scratch. Make a little, assemble a little, buy a little–it all makes for a winning combination. I candied walnuts and pecans with brown sugar & butter in the morning, as well as the smoked salmon spread that is always a hit. I also made the puff pastry with turkey, Dijon and Gruyere that I did a post on awhile back. I made this early in the day, let it cool, placed it in the fridge for the day, then set it in the oven right before guests arrived to re-heat. I also made the Brie with fig jam that I just wrote about last week too. It was a puff pastry extravaganza. As stated before, I am obsessed with this stuff. It is the easiest thing to work with, and guests love it. Next on the agenda was whipping up a batch of green goddess dip that would be served with the roasted vegetables. I will post the recipe for this in the coming weeks. Roasting vegetables really brings out the flavors and also caramelizes them a bit, which I really like. I also find it a more comforting option to eat as opposed to a cold platter of sad looking vegetables. For this evening I roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflower, baby new potatoes, broccoli and baby carrots.
For the assembling part of the plan, I bought an assortment of cheeses, crackers and breads. I put platters out in the kitchen close to where the bar is set up, so guests could nibble on cheese while waiting for their drink to be made. It is also where I placed the dishes of candied nuts. For the buying portion of the plan, I ordered mini pulled pork sandwiches from a place we love. They are the perfect size for party food, and are really filling. We always like to offer an option to guests that if they want to make a meal out of the offerings, they can. Since many of the guests had flown in during the day, and the conference started early the next morning, we thought many would make it their dinner.
For drinks, we like to offer a full bar, but we keep the options limited. Gin, vodka, scotch and mixers for hard alcohol. Red and white wine, as well as sparkling wine. I can’t imagine hosting a party at our home and not serving bubbly. For those of you who know me, and for those of you who read regularly, you know I am a big fan of the bubbles! Guests opt more and more for beer, so we always stock up.
So all was checked off my list. The candles were lit, the flowers were in place, and the music was playing. We were all set for guests to arrive.