October 28th 2010
October 15th 2010
Dinner parties are, at first glance, a way for friends to enjoy a meal together while getting to know each other better. They are also one of the simplest ways to entertain a group of people in your home. You can put together an easy dinner party in just a few steps.
First, you’ll want to determine the number of guests you’d like to have attend. Once you’ve decided on a guest list, get the word out about your party by calling, emailing, or asking them in person. You can also opt to send formal invitations through the mail or hand them out face to face. Once you have your guest list confirmed, you’ll need to plan the menu. At this point of the planning, it’s a good idea to find out if any of your guests have special dietary needs or food allergies and plan accordingly. Once you have your menu determined, create a shopping list for any ingredients you’ll need for the event so you won’t forget anything.
Now is also a good time to begin experimenting with the de’cor of the dining area where the party will take place. Because the meal will be the central theme, you don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy de’cor items. However, you may find that a homemade centerpiece, fresh cut flowers, or a bold table setting may help set the mood for the party.
Finally, when the day of the event arrives, remember to relax and have fun. Your guests will probably not be offended if dinner is a few minutes late or if your cre`me brulee doesn’t brown perfectly. Don’t take things too seriously, and if you make a mistake or overcook something, don’t let it ruin your day. Sometimes, mistakes and mishaps can create some of the most memorable and entertaining moments of a party.
September 30th 2010
Farewell parties can be hosted by the individual who will be moving to another locale or it can be thrown by a close friend. Now, if you are in the second category, you will have your work cut out for you. On one hand, you should invite virtually all of the persons that the guest of honor to the farewell party may want to say goodbye to. On the other hand, you also want the party to be on the intimate side especially as there are words to be said for and by the guest of honor.
Indeed, a farewell party takes planning but the rewards should be well worth the sacrifices from your time as the host. To make your job easier, here are possible themes for farewell parties that you can adopt or adapt to your own needs – or rather, to the preferences of the guest of honor.
In an open house farewell party, the expected guests can come and go anytime they want since the time allotted for the party is flexible. For example, on the invitations, the time can be anywhere from 12 noon to 6 in the evening. This way, the guests who cannot come at the start will still be able to say their goodbyes later during their free time from their personal and professional lives.
In this case, you can hold the party either in the home of the guest of honor or in your home or in another venue. Your choice in venue will depend on factors like number of people expected to show up, the budget available for the event and the theme of the party.
In an open house party, the people invited are often the close members of the extended family and the circle of friends that the guest of honor wants to invite. You will have to coordinate with him/her so as to avoid inviting someone unwanted in the party. You want the guest of honor to feel comfortable with the guest list.
Now, if the farewell party is a surprise for the guest of honor, then utmost discretion is necessary. You want to keep the celebrant, so to speak, clueless about the party but you want the expected guests to know it and then keep the secret.
Amongst these guests, you will be able to find someone who can be your partner in crime. Planning the party then becomes easier since you already have an assistance to bear the burden with, in manner of speaking.
When planning for a surprise farewell party, it is often best to throw the party in a venue aside from the home of the guest of honor. You cannot decorate the house of the celebrant or else the secret is out.
As usual, you should plan for the food and drinks, maybe even go potluck if your budget is on the tight end. Other aspects in planning the farewell party include invitations, decorations, going-away gifts and messages for the guest of honor.
September 23rd 2010
You have probably heard of giving a housewarming party on your own, which means that you will provide the food and drinks as well as the tours and activities for your guests. Your expected guests can include old and new neighbors as well as extended family members, all of whom will be able to appreciate your new house and meet new people at the same time.
And then there is also the option of going potluck. Your expected guests will understand it considering the expenses involved with purchasing and then moving into a new house. Just don’t expect to receive material gifts from your guests as it is considered in bad taste to do so. In that line of thought, you should never make the mistake of actually registering in a gift registry ala a bridal shower since it will be a black mark in your reputation within the new neighborhood. It’s definitely starting out on the wrong foot.
Send the Invites
As is the case with any party, you have to send out the invitations to the expected guests. You can do it in the traditional pen-and-paper way or the modern ways of e-mail invites, either of which is acceptable especially in these fast-paced times. Regardless of which method is chosen, however, you must remember certain things when sending out the invites, of which the following are the most important:
- State the date and time for the housewarming party
- Ask for confirmation of attendance through calls or e-mails as it is important in the determination of the potluck contributions
- Include the complete address as well as specific directions to your new house, maybe even a map.
You can be as creative as you want to be with the invitations. Take pictures of the house and then use them as your invites, if you want to.
Determine the Menu and Its Venue
Of course, your home may still be filled with moving boxes so it is a good idea to designate one area of the house for the food and drinks. But if the whole house is now clean and orderly, then you may want to place a few delicious treats in the rooms both for surprise and sustenance purposes during the house tour.
You need not stress over decorations with a housewarming party. Your guests will understand although you can try to make the tour more interesting like describing how the room will look like after renovations have been made or how you fell in love with the house because of a certain feature.
Now, going back to the menu, you must coordinate the potluck. You don’t want to end up with too many desserts, or too many entrees or too many side dishes without a main dish. You may group the foods into categories – entrees, side dishes, main dishes, desserts and beverages – and then ask the expected guests to choose. Make a list of the possible contributions so that duplication can be avoided.
Naturally, you should also have food and drinks contribution to the potluck housewarming party. You can then impress the new neighbors with your culinary skills – or at least, with your good choice in restaurants.
September 16th 2010
Aside from formal dinners for whatever occasion, cocktail parties are gatherings where good manners from both host and guests are highly appreciated. Keep in mind that cocktail parties allow all the guests to mingle with just about everybody possible within the usual 2-hour period set for such parties. As the host, you have to set the tone for the party starting with the invitations and ending when the last guest has departed the party.
You need not worry about being Miss Prim and Proper Manners during your own cocktail party. Everybody is expected to enjoy themselves over the cocktail drinks made from alcoholic beverages while getting to know the new persons in the circle, being reacquainted with old friends and maybe even sealing a business deal. However, we cannot overemphasize the need for basic good manners in a cocktail party, or whatever party it may be, for that matter.
Let’s start with the invitations. In most cases, cocktail parties demand formal invitations be sent to the expected guests with enclosed RSVP. You can send it through the mail although many hosts are now using e-mails to do so with the understanding that the structure of the invitation is on the semi-formal side. You may also enclose self-addressed envelopes but you may also give the option of calling to confirm attendance.
Such invitations are important so that you can determine the quantity and quality of drinks to be served during the party. Thus, if you have more guests, then you have to order more food and drinks. Or if you have more women than men, then a wider selection of for-women drinks may be appropriate but we must emphasize that it is an excellent idea to have a balanced ration between the genders.
On the invitations, you should also specify the dress code. At the very least, your guests will not feel improperly dressed. For a cocktail party, semi-formal dress is required while a cocktail buffet means a smart casual look and a cocktail reception means formal attire.
As the host, your primary duty is to ensure that everybody is enjoying himself/herself in the company of the other guests. You have to introduce the guests to each other especially when many of them have yet to be formally acquainted. In this way, your guests will feel more welcome and, hence, be more open to mingling with the others.
It is also important to make a connection between the guests being introduced to each other. For example, you may introduce Alex to Mary by saying that both of them went to the same school albeit at different years or that their families were once neighbors.
Now, you may also have to steer the conversation between new acquaintances. You should stick to the safe topics so as not to offend anybody’s sense and sensibility. Your topics may include current events, economy, professions, and even how you meet each one. Just make sure to stay away from topics like diets, health, money, religion, sex and race. Your guests should be able to take up the cue.
And of course, you should not drink yourself to oblivion. You are the host and it will not do to be the one making a scene in your own party. Ultimately, thanks to good manners, your cocktail party is rockin’ it.
September 9th 2010
Tea has come to mean many things to many people. It represents rebellion as is the case with the historical Boston Tea Party in the West. It symbolizes harmony with nature, serenity with one’s self and good health in the tradition of the East with its tea ceremony. It brings back together family and friends in an elegant affair filled with sweet treats and pots of good tea.
Indeed, when we think of tea, we only have good thoughts of the hot liquid awakening our palates, warming our throats and soothing our souls in more ways than one. And so, we aspire to give tea parties in the tradition of the British but we may not know how to do so for many reasons. We live in a hurried and harried world where tea parties just seem too much trouble and yet appear to be so much fun, too.
Fortunately, elegant tea parties can be thrown for family and friends with proper planning just as in the case of other types of parties for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. You will not even spend too much money on the food, invitations, decorations and other aspects of the tea party for various reasons.
First, the main foods like pots of tea, scones, biscuits, cookies and cake can be bought for affordable prices from bakeries and delis. Even if you make these sweet treats in your own kitchen, you will not be spending plenty of money, unlike in a full banquet of formal parties.
Second, the venue can be left as is. If you are holding it in the garden, you can just make it more beautiful by placing a few flowers on the table – no evening lights and no fussy decorations. After all, tea parties are held from mid to late afternoon in whatever venue is available in your house.
You might say that a tea party is a lazy but elegant way to entertain family and friends as well as co-workers and bosses. Your taste in parties will even impress them so much so that the tea party will be the talk of the office for days and in a complimentary way, to boot.
But of course, before your tea party can be a success, you have to plan it and plan it well. This is true for all your parties, be it the informal barbecue on the Fourth of July or the formal dinner on your wedding anniversary. Here then is a step-by-step guide on planning a tea party.
• Select the date for the tea party, which should be on the relatively free day of the invited people, say, on a Sunday afternoon. Send out the invitation at least 2 weeks before the event to allow your expected guests to clear their schedules.
• Prepare your menu. It may be as simple as two choices of cake or as many as a buffet of sweet treats. Your tea may be in two or more varieties like green, black and oolong.
• Prepare the tea equipment from the cups and saucers to the teapot. Go for the most elegant set you can afford since you can use it again and again.
• Prepare the table.
Now, all you have to do is to wait for your guests, serve the tea and enjoy their company!
September 7th 2010
If you are almost always the host in parties for family and friends, you should have knowledge of the food safety guidelines for many reasons. For one thing, your guests’ welfare is in your hands while in your home, which include safety from the health complications of food poisoning. For another thing, food safety guidelines are also a big factor in making food taste delicious and look attractive, two things that you want guests to compliment you on.
We can say that food safety comes first and food taste will come after it has been achieved. There are for main principles to follow when cooking for yourself and for others during parties – clean, separate, chill and cook. You need not worry as these principles can be applied in simple but effective ways in the home without the necessity of going to culinary school.
You have to clean all the equipment from the spoons and forks to the pots and pans used during the cooking and serving process. You may have to sterilize these cooking utensils and equipment but your conscientiousness will pay off most handsomely. Naturally, your kitchen must be clean as well – no cockroaches, no rats and no other disease-carrying pests.
You must also wash your hands before, during and after cooking. To paraphrase the old adage, too many unwashed hands spoiled the broth simply because the bacteria, germs and other unhealthy microorganisms are transferred from one dish to the next primarily through your hands.
You must separate the equipment like the cutting boards, knives and even sponges for poultry, meat and seafood on one hand and fruits, vegetables and herbs on the other hand. Keep in mind that raw meat contains bacteria that can contaminate fresh produce, the latter of which is often raw or cooked in a lesser time that the former.
You may think that it is a hassle to keep separate equipment for the two food categories. Again, we prefer a few minor inconveniences for the greater good of your guests.
You have to chill the prepared foods, leftovers and other perishables within two hours after preparation or purchase. If possible, we suggest marinating foods before placing in the refrigerator as the natural preservatives in the marinate help in keeping the food fresh and safe for consumption.
We cannot overemphasize the need to load the refrigerator according to its capacity and to load the foods in the refrigerator according to the ideal temperature. For example, poultry requires placement in the freezer while fresh produce are in the refrigerator.
You should follow the instructions on the cookbook about the oven temperature or the number of minutes for cooking. You must know by now that meat and fresh produce have different cooking temperatures and times for good reasons.
And of course, make sure that you serve food according to the way it is recommended by the recipe. Serve food like soups hot with the use of chafing dishes, warning trays and crock pots and keep food like ice cream cold by storing in the freezer before serving. After all, the delicious taste of food also depends on the way it is served.
In the end, you want to ensure food safety balanced with food flavor. If you can balance these two aspects of food preparation, you are a great host.
August 26th 2010
Planning a summer party can be intimidating for a beginner. You have so many things to look into that it can seem like a never-ending stream of concern, issues and worries. Yes, this is true even when the party is a relatively small one.
Fortunately, you have the following summer party decorating checklist to get you through the planning stage. With this checklist on your side, you can organize a successful party with less hassle, less cost and less worry.
The tables are important components of a summer party for the simple reason that the guests have to eat on a comfortable platform. We suggest looking at the following aspects to make for great table settings:
• Crisp table cloths or table runners in summery colors
• Paper or cloth napkins to coordinate with the table cloths
• Dinnerware, which can either be casual or formal depending on the theme
• Flatware from forks and spoons to steak knives and butter knives, if necessary
• Glassware including glasses, mugs and cups as well as water pitchers
• Barware like assorted cocktail glasses, coasters and mixers are also necessary, if you intend to offer alcoholic drinks
• Salt and pepper shakers
And of course, don’t forget the chairs either. Your guests will appreciate comfortable chairs to rest on after the dancing and singing of the party.
A summer party decorating checklist will be incomplete if it does not include the decorations for the venue. Said décor will depend on the theme of the party, which can range from just a few summer plants to elaborate lights setup.
• Place candles and lanterns in strategic places like the tables and the trees to provide light as well as act as insect repellants (citronella)
• Set the ambience of the venue with the right music, which can either be provided by a live band or with a DJ using a CD machine
• Scatter inflatable toys on the pool if you are planning a pool party. Add in a few palm plants, mini-torches and even seashells to add a tropical feel
Your choice of decorations should complement the theme of the party. There is no need to go over the top of your budget is tight.
The star of any party is almost always the food since there is no sense in inviting guests without offering sustenance. After all, even you will become hungry with the activities, games and hobnobbing.
We suggest looking at the theme of the party and the tailoring the menu on it. Thus, if your summer party is the tea party kind, then teas, sconces and pastries are the order of the day. If it is a beach or pool party, go for finger foods, soda and lemonade. If it is a barbecue party, meat and beer are on top of the menu.
There are other things that should be on your summer party decorating checklist, of course, like favors. But if you already have these three important things on the list, then you should be alright.
August 19th 2010
Of all the seasons of the year, it is summer that presents the most possibilities for throwing great parties. You have the warm sun on your back, the brilliant colors to dazzle your eyes and the sounds of nature coming alive in a vibrant way. Add in the lazy days, cool breezes and great company and you have every reason to celebrate the season with a party.
The trick is in knowing how to host a summer party for less cost, less effort and less time. Well, this should be easy enough with the following three ways.
Sun, Sand and Sea
Summer is equated with the sun, sand and sea. Thus, it is logical that the beach is the best way to hold a party in summer without the hassle of thinking about elaborate decorations, complex cuisines and formal ambience. Just bring finger foods, barbecues and cool drinks to the nearest beach – coupled with your bikinis and sunscreens, of course – and off you and your guests on a lazy day of sunbathing, swimming and just lazing around.
But of course, if the beach is far away or it is too polluted with oil slicks, then the pool is the best alternative. Your decorations can include inflatable floats on the pool, colored lanterns on the trees and a few palm plants. Your menu can be as simple as the one on the beach, with many of your guests probably going potluck. Think mango and tomato salsa with nachos and chips, hotdog and marshmallows on a stick, iced tea and lemonade and even a homemade cake, all of which require less expenditure.
Fly Me to the Moon
An imaginative way to host a summer party for less is to take advantage of the clear black sky during the season. The full moon with its diamond stars are the perfect backdrop to a night out with family and friends while enjoying the food brought in picnic baskets.
Again, you can ask everybody to bring potluck food for sharing with everybody although you can always prepare the majority of the menu. Your food choices can include sandwiches, fried chicken and apple pie with lemonade on the side. All of these food items are comfort food in many ways – just the right thing to enjoy under the starry skies.
You need not even worry about the venue. Go to the local park and hold your summer party there for free.
Garden of Eden
If you want to host a summer party for less, your garden is probably the best place to do so. You already have the decorations in the form of the plants and flowers. You already have the natural ambience. You already have the venue for free.
Now, all you need to do is to take out the tables, cover them with your favorite tablecloths and set it with your summery cutlery. Your menu can be anything that your kitchen can cook up – just dress up your everyday recipes with special touches and you can become the new chef on the block. Your favors can be seed packets of your favorite summer blooms.
You can host a summer party for less money, less effort and less time. Use your imagination, use your available resources and use your family and friends’ generosity by asking for assistance even if it means going potluck.
August 12th 2010
Many individuals do not see the logic behind the giving of host and hostess gifts by the guests to the party. Their rationale is that the host and hostess invited them to be guests at the party and, hence, their presence is the gift in and of itself. Also, their viewpoint is that the host and hostess may be offended by the gift – no gift, no mistake, so to speak.
Miss Manners will the first person to rebuke these individuals about their lack of good manners as guests to a party from the first get-go. These gifts are tokens of appreciation by the guest to the host for the latter’s graciousness in inviting the former to the special occasion. After all, the host can always choose to snub any prospective guest.
And since the host and hostess gift is a token of appreciation, its monetary value is secondary to the sincere thoughts behind it. Of course, it will be a nice gesture when you choose the gift with a practical value or a sentimental significance or both. Just don’t settle for the cheapest one on the shelf either since you also want to be proud of your host and hostess gifts.
The following are a few good ideas about excellent gifts for the host and hostess, no matter the theme, reason and venue of the party:
• A bottle of wine with good vintage is always welcome. We suggest giving wine that you may also like to drink with your own meals.
• A homemade or gourmet treat will be appreciated, too. Just make sure that it can be saved for later use as the menu may have been set. Think wrapped gourmet food, chocolate treats and pastries.
• A bouquet of flowers or a small potted plant may also be given to the host. These gifts can brighten up the atmosphere well after the party has ended.
• Other gifts like candles, stationery and even knickknacks are also suitable gifts. The trick is in knowing your host’s preferences but it should be easy if and when you are a member of the family or a friend.
After deciding on the host and hostess gifts, the next decision to make is when to give them. You have two choices – send it ahead before your arrival to the party or give it upon your arrival to the party. Your choice will depend on factors like longevity of the gift, distance between your home and the venue, and the element of surprise.
When giving the gift to the host, you should also remember certain good manners. For one thing, you should not expect your host to parade the gift in front of other guests and to even say something positive about it. Your host will greet you at the door, receive your gift and then move on to other party responsibilities.
For another thing, you must not expect your host to actually use the wine, serve the food and display the flowers. Your gift is just that – a gift that the recipient can choose to open and use when and where desired.
On a final note, host and hostess gifts are your thank-you gifts for the invitation. As such, don’t expect to receive a thank-you note from your host. Instead, you should give a thank-you note after the party.