Party Tip: How to Manage Your Time Like a Pro on Party Day

You can have the absolute best menu and everything could come out just right but if the timing is off on party day it can leave you unnecessarily stressed and unable to actually enjoy the evening. What to do? Here are some tips for managing your time and getting everything to the table without too much stress.

This week, we had a request from a reader who loves throwing dinner parties, but finds herself pressed for time after work with only a few hours to pull everything together. I can relate; even when I have an entire day to prepare for a dinner party, I often find myself racing around all day and only allowing myself to relax when the doorbell starts to ring. I realize this defeats the purpose of having guests over for a mellow, enjoyable evening.

While thinking about this reader's question, I couldn't help but recall how recently over on Food52, Amanda Hesser posted about starting to throw more weekend dinner parties, chronicling the planning, timing, and serving of the meal itself. Hesser writes about her most recent party and how she structured the week, from buying flowers to making pie dough in advance. I called up friends to ask for their tips. I even asked my mom. Here's what I discovered:

• A Week Before: For all of you folks with little ones, Hesser has a great suggestion to make the kid's meals for the entire week at once on Monday or Tuesday. This way, you're not thinking through how to feed your family while also preparing to feed a house full of friends at the end of the week.

• A Few Days Before: My mom suggests making sure the entryway and yard are all in order a few days before a party. This is just far too organized for me, but I suppose watering the plants is a good idea — for those of you that even have plants to water. Hesser suggests making the salad dressings and any pie or pastry doughs as they'll keep for a few days in the refrigerator and not having to think about this step on the day of will save you quite a bit of stress. If you need to order any cuts of meat or specialty foods, this is the time to do that, too.

• The Day Before: Buy flowers and wine today. I also make sure I have enough ice on hand and start making it like crazy. Because I'm such a visual person, I like to set out platters and serving trays the day before so I can start to think through how I'll lay everything out on the table. I find it too hectic to tackle this on the day of the party. Superficially, I think through what I may want to wear and throw in a load of laundry if need be.

• Party Day: Party day I reserve for preparing the food. Plain and simple. I'll also arrange the flowers. I always begin early and prepare anything I can in the morning so the late afternoon and evening are as calm as possible.

What Tips Do You Have for Party Time Management?

Related: Party Menu: A Spring Picnic in Pink and Green

It's Reader Request Week at The Kitchn! This post was requested by HBINGHAM14.

(Image: Flying House)