I really love hosting parties — big or small — and search for any excuse to do so, but grocery shopping for them can be a challenge. After a few successes and plenty of failures, I've learned that tackling a big shopping list for a party is way different than your weekly grocery run.
Here are five mistakes to avoid the next time you're shopping for a party — and how to make sure you're set up for success (and fun!).
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Grocery Shopping for a Party
1. Not buying enough food.
The number-one rule of all great parties: Have enough food. (Duh!) Actually, don't just have enough, have more than enough. If you're expecting 20 guests, shop for 25. Overestimate the yields on everything you're preparing and buy a few more snacks than you may think you need. It's better to have too much than have everyone leave hungry.
Follow this tip: Shop for more guests than you're actually expecting to account for big eaters or drop-ins.
2. Throwing out your receipts.
This might be the penny pitcher in me, but it's OK to return some of that excess food you bought if you never opened it and you don't need or want it. I am not saying you should return the extra burger patties and hot dogs, but things like seltzers or crackers are totally fine to bring back to the store.
So if you bought six bags of chips but only one got eaten, and you'd rather not keep the remaining ones around to tempt you during moments of hanger, return them.
Follow this tip: Hold onto your grocery receipts from pre-party shopping trips in case you'd like to return excess nonperishable items.
3. Passing over store-bought conveniences.
You do not need to make everything for a party from scratch. This is coming from someone who has attempted it and failed. The grocery store is filled with wonderful conveniences that will save you time, energy, and stress — use them!
Buy the hummus and the rotisserie chicken (for chicken salad!), for example. I ensure you that no one will think less of you as a host and you'll enjoy the party so much more.
Follow this tip: Lean on store-bought conveniences like pre-cut fruit and vegetables and pre-cooked meat instead of trying to do everything yourself.
4. Forgetting the ice.
Stick a Post-It note on your fridge or set a reminder on your phone: You will need ice for the party! A general rule is about one pound of ice per person. Follow that, then buy a little more, just to be sure you have plenty.
Follow this tip: Buy at least one pound of ice per person. Get it the day of your party.
5. Skipping a non-alcoholic beverage.
Buying enough alcohol is as important as buying enough food, but you'll also need to have at least one non-alcoholic option. It's easy to forget about the non-alcoholic options when you're filling your shopping cart with bottles of wine and beer. Don't!
Definitely add a non-alcoholic drink to your list that isn't just plain ol' water — whether that's the ingredients for a simple mocktail or just plenty of LaCroix. It's a small gesture that your guests will appreciate.
Follow this tip: In addition to buying plenty of alcohol, be sure to pick up a non-alcoholic choice beyond water for those who might not drink.
Got any other advice to give? Leave it in the comments below!