Remove any “interesting” prescriptions from the medicine cabinet
Stock extra roll of toilet paper in bathrooms
Make a written timeline of all last-minute cooking and serving tasks. This is everything to be done to coordinate cooking and serving the meal. For example, when and what temperature to pre-heat the oven, when to start cooking each item, as well as, which garnish to use on the plate and/or dish.
Day Of Party
Buy Last-minute Items when you need something on the list, otherwise wait until 3 hours before.
Prepare garnishes, cover with a wet paper towel
Prep as much of the food as possible
Pre-cook any food possible
Soften butter & items for cooking
Put out any signage
Last minute tidying and spot-check decorations
Empty trash cans, especially bathrooms
Assemble hors d'oeuvre, store on baking sheet in refrigerator
Set outdoor decorations & lighting
3 Hours Before:
Buy last-minute items, if any. Make sure you have stockpiled enough ice.
Empty dishwasher and set out bus trays for dirty glasses and trash
Setup kitchen equipment for cooking and pre-labeled dishes for serving
Set coffee maker to start right before dessert course
Put away any valuables
2 Hours Before:
Get yourself ready
Don’t forget your camera
1 Hour Before:
Adjust thermostat. Cooking, guests, candles & stereo will generate extra heat.
Fill water pitcher
Take out anything to be served at room temperature.
Put butter for bread on the table.
Have ingredients ready to cook. Your written timeline should include all cooking and serving steps from this point forward. Use timers.
30 Minutes Before:
Turn on music
Heat water, if cooking pasta later.
Arrange hors d'oeuvres on trays
Turn on and adjust outdoor lighting
Light fireplace, if using
Fill water glasses half-full and refill pitcher with lots of ice, then water
If serving aperitif at room temperature, fill glasses
Open and decant wine
Close off doors and turn off lights in dining room
Mix a cocktail
15 Minutes Before:
Light cocktail hour candles, then adjust dimmers
Fill the ice bucket
Take any chilled mixers and garnishes to the bar, fill pitchers
Remember: never put ice in juice and specialty drink pitchers
Pre-heat oven, if needed
During the Party:
Follow your written timeline for cooking and serving
30 minutes into the cocktail hour serve hors d’oeuvre