- A few hours beforehand, finish up with the cooking. If you've planned ahead, this should be a pretty minimal amount of work.
- Buy and arrange fresh flowers and balloons.
- Set up tables and the bar.
- Pick up ice and pre-made platters.
- Get dressed about two hours before starting time. You might be tempted to leave this until the last minute, but you could easily get caught up in party prep and end up greeting your guests with wet hair, in a robe and slippers.
- Chill wine.
- Remember to wear an apron if you need to!
- Set out plastic-wrapped, non-spoiling appetizers and dips a couple of hours beforehand, and take off the plastic wrap as the first guests arrive.
- About an hour ahead of time, reheat any frozen dishes.
- About 15 minutes before the first guests are due to arrive, light candles and start music.
- Grab a cocktail, sit back, relax and enjoy yourself!
For more information about party planning, take a look at the links below.
- Evite. "Cocktail Party Checklist." (March 5, 2012) http://www.evite.com/app/party/checklist/viewChecklist.do
- Martha Stewart. "Party-Planning Guide." (March 5, 2012) http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/2009Q3/ms_checklist_partyplan.pdf
- Real Simple. "Party Planning Checklist." (March 5, 2012) http://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/entertaining/party-planning-checklist-00000000000931/index.html