One week to two weeks before
• Evaluate your space. Make sure you have enough tables and chairs. Note any furniture that needs to be moved before the party.
• Plan the decorations, deciding on a theme or a colour scheme. If you are using a professional florist, consult her on the price and availability of flowers to fit your theme.
• For a dinner party, plan your table and settings and centrepieces. Make sure you have enough dishes, flatware and glassware. If not, consider buying replacements or renting your tableware.
• Check your tablecloths and cloth napkins for stains or holes; wash and iron if necessary.
Two days before
• Thoroughly clean your house and rearrange furniture if needed. This way, on the day of the party you'll only have minor touch-ups to do.
The day before
• Pick up flowers or have them delivered so they have time to open up before the party.
• For a cocktail party, set up your bar area. Put out liquor, mixers, bar tools, glassware and anything else that doesn't need to be kept cold. Put white wine and champagne in the refrigerator to chill.
• For a dinner party, arrange the table centrepiece and set the table. Lay out dishes, cups, and utensils for dessert, too.
• Select your party music and have it ready to go.
• Place candles where you want them around the house.
The day of the party
• Walk through the house and spot-clean as necessary. Fluff pillows and put away anything valuable or breakable.
• Assemble your serving platters.
• Sweep the front walk and turn on outside lights.
• Shortly before guests arrive, step outside for a minute. When you come back in, note any odours, then use a room spray or light a scented candle in trouble areas.
• Light candles and start a fire in the fireplace, in season.
• Turn on music.
• Set out appetizers.
|Excerpted from Handbook for Hosts: A Practical Guide to Party Planning and Gracious Entertaining by Adam Bluestein. Copyright 2006 by Adam Bluestein. Excerpted by permission of Hearst Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.|