Party Prep 101: Music, Food and Entertainment

Regardless of how many parties you've hosted, each one makes unique demands on its host to provide a thoughtfully selected diverse menu, music and entertainment that suits the guest list and the gathering, and an after-event push to put your home back to rights. Expert professional planners make full use of the technology at their disposal to ease planning tasks, heighten food quality and make an event proceed smoothly from lists and recipes to success.

Food Planning

Your smartphone can help you plan your menu, build your shopping list and even choose wines and beverages. Misty DeFlitch, National Sales Manager for Ruth's Chris Steak House, considers her smartphone an essential part of her toolkit throughout the process of getting ready for guests. "A smartphone can be very useful for time management when planning an event," she says. "There are also great apps available that can help task manage throughout the planning process. Some easily create multiple shopping lists and organize recipes, while others offer a recipe unit conversion calculator. I've even used an app for wine pairing suggestions, and my favorite, keeping track of the guest list."

She also uses her phone's camera to document every aspect of the event. Substitute a tablet device for your smartphone when you want the visuals that its larger screen provides. When you're choosing your recipes, take into consideration whether your event will be a stand-and-mingle affair or one for which your guests stay seated. For many parties, DeFlitch says that "easy-to-eat, one-to-two-bite goodies are usually the way to go."

Food Preparation & Service

Plan-ahead, prepare-ahead strategies provide the best means of anticipating your party's needs and meeting them without stress. Fill your refrigerator's flexible-storage drawer with temperature-controlled ingredients or veggies. Your range's warming drawer holds baked foods at serving temperature if they emerge from the convection oven before you need them.

Before the day of the event, DeFlitch recommends staging your prep work efficiently. "Proper planning can help you identify which items you can prepare a day or two in advance and which dishes or platters you can easily replenish throughout the party," she says, adding that "Prep work is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to pulling off a successful soiree. The home planner can do a number of tasks before the day of the event in preparation of the final presentation--everything from pulling out wine and cocktail glasses, to chopping ingredients, to setting up platters." Even your children can take part, helping you mix or measure ingredients, make place cards or pick flowers for a tablescape. "We love when children are involved because it's the perfect opportunity for them to learn about cooking, party planning, or hosting," she says.

Playlists

Your digital devices can provide the soundtrack of your event, with a well-chosen playlist that blends various musical styles and mixes quiet ballads with up-tempo songs. Your smartphone, tablet, computer and media player can all contribute songs to your party soundtrack, especially if you use your home theater system and access your songs wirelessly through your home network.

DeFlitch emphasizes advance planning here, too, saying that "Creating a well-rounded or theme-oriented playlist in advance will allow for seamless entertainment throughout the event. Of course, you'll need music when prepping as well. Having fun before, during and after is the most important part of hosting any occasion." Use your TV as an additional entertainment source, especially if your party coincides with a sporting event that some of your guests will be following on their smartphones.

Cleanup

If you're accustomed to cleaning your dishes before you wash them, let your dishwasher do its work and save energy in the process. Today's appliances make quick work of food residue, with no more than a quick scrape required before you place plates, flatware and utensils in flexible racks for a quiet wash cycle. You can tidy up your range after the party ends, too, with a steam-cleaning cycle that banishes light soil more quickly than instigating a full-fledged self-cleaning. Once your kitchen's back in order, break out the HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner to put your floors back to rights.

Photo Credits: Kristyn Robertson/Demand Media

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