party line

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Soups, Meat, Grains and Pasta, Cocktail Party, Dinner Party, Setting the Stage, Posted on July 21, 2014 by Sandy Bergsten

How do you pull a party off in a matter of minutes? The answer is by planning and prepping everything weeks, months and hours ahead of time. The secret to successful entering is in the pre-work. There is actually a direct correlation between the amount of time you put into planning and the ease with which your party comes off.

Knowing we wanted to invite some of our dear friends over to help mark my baby’s graduation from college, and knowing that the only date that would work was two days after my mom’s memorial service, I knew I would have to try to execute the entire party entirely ahead of time.

Here’s the party timeline.


Six weeks ahead make the guest list, choose the invite (this time I opted for a paper invite from Tiny Prints), select the menu.

paper products

One month before send out the invites, stock the bar, buy the wine, purchase the paper products and any nonperishable ingredients.

cheddar tartlents

During the two to three week stretch make everything that can be frozen. For this party that meant the pistachio pesto, cheddar tartlets, mushroom cheese crisps, and hot sausage appetizers.


One week ahead order the meat from the butcher and the cupcakes from the baker. Purchase all of the ingredients that can be kept in the refrigerator for more than a week. Select the platters and trays for everything you are serving.


Two days ahead get all of the perishable ingredients. Set up the bar. Pick out your outfit for the party- nothing derails your schedule like a last minute fashion crisis.

post it

One day ahead make the cold curried zucchini soup, the horseradish cream, the wasabi mayonnaise, and the smoked trout pate. Lay out all the serving pieces and mark each with a post-it note. Line baking sheets for the hot hors d'oeuvres with heavy-duty foil (making clean up a breeze). Arrange the flowers.


The morning of roast the tenderloin for the beef tenderloin croutes, blanch the asparagus for the wasabi mayonnaise, cut the cucumber rounds and store in the frig between sheets of paper towel in a Ziploc bag, cook the pasta then toss with the pesto- let cool and refrigerate in a large Ziploc bag.


That afternoon make sure everything is in its place. Pick up the cupcakes and bags of ice.

trout pate

An hour ahead assemble the trout pate on cucumber rounds, place the asparagus and wasabi mayonnaise on a platter, portion the pasta into small cups to pass. Get dressed.


30 minutes before ladle the cold curried zuchinni soup into decorative paper cups, assemble the beef tenderloin croutes, preheat the ovens, and turn on the music

5 minutes to go reapply your lipstick, unlock the doors and pour yourself a glass of wine. Check yourself in the mirror and toast yourself knowing that your party will be perfect because that’s exactly how you planned it to be!

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