Thursday, March 06, 2014

Getting things done.

Yesterday afternoon, I listed everything that's left to do for the party, up to the point on my Big Day list where we get 16 bags of ice from the store.

The whole list came to less than half a sheet of notebook paper. Pretty cool!

Because we're doing our own cooking instead of having the party catered, I plan to finish all non-party tasks by Wednesday before the party. That way, I have three days devoted to just one thing--prepping food--and the rest of my life does not have to fall apart as I prepare.

Let me stress again that I could not do this without a system. Systems are miraculous.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

St. Urho's Day party planning: Using momentum.

We hosted the Mardi Gras party on February 22, 3 weeks before our St. Urho's Day party. The Mardi Gras party was a huge success; we broke the 50-attendee mark for the first time, which was gratifying, yet which also brought its own problems.

We ran out of food and Abita beer halfway through the party. I am mortified at this, but it's what happened. We had staged for our usual attendees numbering 35-40, but we had more show up, and they ate and drank much more than usual. We also had no reserves to back up our offerings. Next time, we'll stage for a larger group of 70-75. That will give enough for 50 attendees plus overage if more come.

We're bringing new ideas to the party next year, too, like making bread pudding instead of pralines. This is for practical reasons as much as it is for aesthetic variety. We can make a pan of bread pudding that will serve 25-30 in itself (we'll make two). That takes less time and effort than pralines, which are a delight but which take a deft hand and a lot of kitchen space.

This party prep bridges into the St. Urho's Day prep, which is helpful. Scheduling multiple parties and events in a tight time frame causes less stress, not more.

St. Urho's Day party prep involves...

--taking down the Mardi Gras decorations
--keeping the purple and green party items out
--using whatever leftover beer and wine are available
--then the same scheduling and planning strategies as for other events.

More to come on these strategies.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mardi Gras party planning.

We're hosting a Mardi Gras party on February 22 this year, so it's time to get started on the planning. Here's what I've got on my general party planning list:

Six weeks ahead: Send evites to guests (check calendar); finalize menu

Five weeks ahead: Buy candles; order specialty items--food, music, decorations

Four weeks ahead: Check paper and plastic ware, restock; check bar inventory and pick up items

The invitations have already gone out, in a sense. This party is primarily for members of Metropolitan Washington Mensa, but I'm going to send specific invitations by email to my various gaming groups, the MWM GenXer list, and my DCist blogging buddies. Those I'll send out before the end of the week.

I reviewed the 2013 post mortem in my party planning notebook and made notes about what to order. I then placed an order with Mardi Gras Outlet, which is where I buy most of my Mardi Gras-specific items. This year, I picked up eight 8-packs of 7" plates, several types and lengths of decorative lights, and three tablecloths, one rectangular metallic gold, one round metallic gold, and one round green. The rectangular tablecloth will go on the main food table in the dining room; the other two tablecloths will go on round tables in the dining room and, hopefully, on the deck, where I'll have our tubs of drinks, ice, and wine.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed about the weather this year. It's much easier if we can put drinks on the second-story deck, just outside the living room, because we have more floor space that way. If we can't, though, I have an alternative plan that turns the living room and part of the dining room into one massive bar.

I also did a menu, subject to change:

Zatarain's red beans and rice, 3 boxes
Zatarain's jambalaya, 3 boxes
Hot crawfish dip (triple recipe in the crock pot) with sliced French bread
Boudin balls (I'm making my own boudin this year to save money)
Assorted dips and vegetables
Zapp's potato chips, variety
King cake (my husband makes these each year for both our Mardi Gras party and our St Urho's Day party)
Pralines (my husband also makes these)
Hurricanes (I make pitchers of these and let people add rum)
Abita beer
Wine and sodas

Next up: Review additional post mortems from past years for more suggestions.