Party Planning 101

Planning a Party?

Hostess’ Best Friend is here to help.

Here are a few tips to help you make your event run smoothly...

Three Weeks Before

•Write your invitation list

For a party, you should invite 20 percent more people than you can fit, since typically only 70 percent to 80 percent of invitees attend.

•Pick a theme, if you desire

A theme is not necessary, but it can help make your event more memorable and easier to plan.

•Send out invitations

Invite your guests via snail mail, email, text, or phone calls. Using different forms of communication can ensure all of your guests see the invite.

•Plan the menu

Assemble the recipes. Make a list of how far in advance each can be made, and compile a shopping list. Place an order with your local deli, caterer, bakery, or restaurant, as needed.

•Line up any help you may need - THAT'S US!

Lift some weight off of your shoulders and let HBF help with organization, serving, and cleaning. Contact Hostess' Best Friend today to set up your pre-party meeting! (216) 210-8101 or

Two Weeks Before

•Clean any crystal, china, and silverware you’ll be using for your event

And launder and iron linens if appropriate

•Make your playlist

The music should be whatever you imagine will go with the theme of the party. Make sure you have a playlist that will last the entire evening.

•Do a first round of grocery shopping and cooking

Prepare any dishes that can be frozen.

One Week Before

•Clean your house thoroughly

If you clean ahead of time, you’ll need only a quick once-over before the party.

•Set the stage

Arrange the furniture as you’ll want it for the party, making sure that guests can move easily from one part of your house to another. Figure out the lighting: Using low-wattage bulbs or candlelight will create the right mood.

•Take inventory of cookware, serving dishes and serving utensils. 

If you don’t have enough for every dish you’re serving, consider purchasing inexpensive pieces from a discount or thrift store. Label each dish with a Post-it so you and your Best Friend know what you plan to use it for at party time.

•Stock your bar

Plan three bottles of wine for every four people, three to four cocktails per guest for a two- to three-hour cocktail party. Make sure you have enough ice.

Three Days Before

• Send reminders to your guests

Make a quick email, text, or phone call. Your guests will thank you for the reminder, since everyone is so busy.

• Go over the pre-party list and all details with your HBF


Arrange candles, put up theme decorations, etc.

•Have cleaning supplies available

In case of messy spills, your Best Friend will be able to react instantly.

•Specify a place for coats

Make space in a closet and fill it with hangers. You could also choose a bed for coats (make sure the room is especially tidy).

•Finish grocery shopping

Make a detailed cooking schedule for your remaining dishes.

One Day Before

•Set the tables or the buffet

•Buy and arrange flowers

•Finish as much of the cooking as you can

Also, for any foods that require cooking on party day, do as much prep (dicing, marinating, rinsing lettuce, etc.) as possible.

  • Confirm caterer drop off or pick up time and menu.​

•Give your house a once-over

Do whatever touch-ups are necessary.

Party Time

•Finish any last-minute cooking

This should be absolutely minimal!

•Place chairs

Don’t worry about having enough seating for everyone; fewer seats will encourage mingling.

  • One hour before HBF arrives to assist, so you can get ready

•Display food

One hour before guests arrive, set out appetizers and snacks that won’t spoil. Wrap them tightly to ensure freshness; tear off the wrap when the first guest rings the doorbell. You can rely on your Best Friend(s) to do this!

•Greet guests as they arrive

Things should be organized so you’re free to mingle, not tied to the kitchen. Your Best Friends will handle it from here.

Relax... We've Got This!

Hostess' Best Friend

(216) 210-8101

Thank you to Real Simple Home & Lifestyle Network for some of your party planning tips!