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5 Tips For A Panic-Free Party

An Insiders Best Tips and Tricks for Hosting a Stress-Free and Fabulous Party


Photograph: © Paolo Cipriani


If anyone knows a thing or two about party planning, it’s Marcia Selden Catering. From flooded tents twenty minutes before an event, to losing power and having to cook the whole meal on an outdoor grill, we’ve seen it all!

Here are my best tips and tricks to hosting a fantastic party:

1. Get a Game Plan

This is the most important step. The most effortless parties generally have been well thought out and planned in advance.  Do this well, and you’ll be able to enjoy yourself at your own party.

How many guests? Send the invite (or evite) early so you can get an accurate guest count. If children are coming, create a special place for them with age-appropriate activities; consider hiring the teen down the street to supervise that area.

Food style: buffet, passed hors d’oeuvres, sit down, open house? The food style will greatly predicate the flow of the party.

Theme: we’re not talking Luau (although those are always fun), rather what colors will you be using, what type of music will you be playing, rental of disposable dishes, glasses, etc.

2. It’s All About the Food, ‘Bout the Food, No Kidding.

Once you’ve gotten your game plan (which includes the food style, if it doesn’t, don’t pass go…) decide on your menu.

A party is NOT the time to try new recipes. While Pinterest is a great place for inspiring ideas, a party is not the time for getting crazy in the kitchen. Also, if you want to do “just hors d’oeuvres and dessert”, consider hiring someone. Those are two of the most labor intensive things to make.

If you are doing the cooking, try deconstructing hors d’oeuvres as beautiful self-serve platters. Instead of smoked salmon rosettes on rye rounds with crème fraiche, why not a beautiful platter of thinly sliced smoked salmon with shingles of rye bread, artfully arranged on a platter with a small bowl of crème fraiche so guests can help themselves. This will invite guests to interact with each other at the food.

3. The Small Stuff Counts, A LOT…

Keep ample pretty cocktail napkins handy, you’ll go through more than you think.

Extra toilet paper in the bathroom, we’ve all been there, just sayin’…

Don’t forget the music, it really affects the mood! Even if you have no idea what to play, sites like Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody are great.  nter in the type of music or genre that you like and they’ll create a music stream.

Keep track of the time. Putting dessert out is a gentle nudge that the party is coming to a close soon.

4. The Bar

Along with the food, the bar is just as important. Will it be a full bar, beer and wine? Will you have champagne? This is where you can get creative and try that new cocktail recipe you pinned. Make it ahead of time, so if it’s horrible you won’t have bought all of the ingredients already. Your local liquor store will be able to tell you approximately how much of everything you’ll need based on everything you’re serving.

Remember not everyone drinks alcohol, provide seltzer waters and a fun non-alcoholic beverage. A home-made iced tea in a glass pitcher with fresh sliced fruit is delicious.

Decide if you’re going to rent glasses or use disposables. If you’re having a lot of people, while you might have a lot of glasses at home, you don’t want to spend your hours after the party washing them. Rentals are a great, inexpensive way to go. No washing needed.

Don’t forget the ice. Get enough to chill the beverages and for guests.

5. Relax… It’ll be great.

If you’ve followed all of these steps (re-read step 1) you will have a well thought out, beautiful and most importantly FUN party!