Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year Parties - Need a Little Organization?

Everyone is scrambling to plan parties for New Years. Everyone ends up with too much last minute work to do. With just a little planning, this should be mostly avoidable. It is far better to have almost all the foods finished or with very little prep work left to do. The party table(s) should be all set up days before. Lists should be made of the things left to do.

Notice I say "should". We all do not manage to do these things, though they are very helpful in making the hosting of a party stress-free. These things I have mentioned are all ones I have learned over a lot of years and through a lot of stress, before the lessons were learned. I offer these tips to help you out.

Plan Your Recipes
Plan recipes so most of them can be made ahead. Selecting 6 different recipes that all have to be made last minute is simply poor planning, and will have you exhausted. Go through your party recipes and choose options that allow most to be made in advance, with just a little last minute prep. If all you have to do last minute is transfer an item to a party platter, that is the best way to go.

Make Lists
Be detailed. Plan out the sequence with the aid of the cookbooks or recipes being used. How far ahead can each part of a recipe be done? If there is a filling, can it be done 3 or more days in advance?  If there is a bread to make, can it be made days or even weeks before and frozen? Write out a list for three days in advance, two days, the day prior, and Party Day. List the items that can be done on each of these days. Cleaning can be done well ahead; don't leave that for last minute. Sauces, dips, spreads, can usually be made in advance. Plan out the days and make a line next to each item so a check mark can be placed there as the item is done.

Assemble Party Paraphernalia
Get out your fancy platters, bowls, glassware. Assemble all the decorations. If a party is a buffet style, set the table(s) up two or three days ahead. Set out decorations. Place all the plates, platters, stemware, flatware or anything else needed, all together so they are available. If you are having a sit down dinner, set the table completely. If you are concerned with dust, get one of the thinnest painter's plastic drop cloths and gently cover the table. If there is delicate stemware, lay them on their sides until the day of the party. Then remove the drop cloth and set the glasses upright.

Be Creative in the Display
Even if there is not a lot of room, be creative. In the photo here, various boxes were used to create different heights. One large tablecloth was draped over all the boxes, and allowed to drape down over the table. Pull and arrange the cloth so it will be flat on the flat surfaces, allowing plates and platters to set horizontally. Arrange another one or even two or more cloths of different colors to artfully accent the table, continuing to push the cloth into edges and corners, keeping the horizontal surfaces crease free. All this allows the view of all the foods to be presented to their best advantage, and makes reaching over a plate much easier for guests. A wonderful suggestion for colorful smaller cloths would be scarves, or even bathing suit sarongs, on this off-season.

I wish all of you a stress free, worry free relaxing New Year's party!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.