Much has been written about birthday parties and strategies for organizing stress free parties. To me it is a recurring issue for many reasons! In my parents’ house it has always been a family habit to celebrate our birthdays with our family and because our family has always been big and close, organizing parties was always a great logistics exercise!
After marrying I inherited another family, also big and close, and so birthday parties at my house are a real strategic challenge! Why? Because fitting 30 people in a space where usually are only 4 requires rethinking the space and create alternatives that are comfortable for everyone. It’s necessary to adapt and reinvent all spaces! It is still necessary to consider that cooking for 30 people is not the same as cooking for 4 to 8 or 12 people . Because it’s physically impossible to seat them all at the table together. And of course, there is the budget issue! Unfortunately I am not rich, even if I do not want it the budget is always a major concern .
And there is the interesting detail that the big girls have their birthday in the same week, so I have to make their birthday party special and unique as though they were not sharing it.
I usually start to organize the party with one month in advance. It seems too early does not it? Yeah, but it is not. The first thing to do is the Guest List to give you a ballpark numbers of people. Provalmente you’ll only have a definitive number on the party day, with the unexpected and sudden illnesses, but this is normal, especially if there are many children in your family. Anyway you know that there are always those who can not miss the party such as grandparents and uncles in the first line!
Once you have an estimate of the number of people you can start thinking in the Party Menu. This is a difficult step for me, because this is when I get to try new recipes and be a little more daring in how I cook. And here you have the biggest challenge of rationalizing: you must ensure that you have enough food for all your guests but not to much food so you don’t end up eating leftovers for two weeks. It’s hard, I know. I ‘m still perfecting this art. My problem is not so much behing afraid of not having enough food but wanting to cook a lot of things, this party is a great opportunity to express myself through cooking!
If you have family members who also enjoy cooking you must count with the food they will cook, and if you do not like cooking ask them to cook something for the party.
And how do you choose the menu? The number of guests makes all the difference. The first criterion to consider is if you can sit everyone at the table. If you can not you have to provide a meal that does not need a knife and fork to be eaten, something that is already cut into pieces and it can just be eated with a fork.
The second criterion that you must consider is the party hour. Whether it is lunch or a dinner. For me it is usual to start the party arround 4:00pm. The dinning table is set with appetizers and drinks, cheeses and pâté with toast and bread and other things. The guests will be eating and drinking as they please. Around 8:00pm (because we have a lot of kids coming) I serve the soup, then I put the main course with their side dishes on the table. Desserts usually come after dinner. Not everyone has the stomach to eat the dinner after a afternoon eating but it is critical to serve it if there are children because they play the entire time and barelly eat during the afternoon .
The third criterion is the existence of children. You may choose to have a meal aside just for them or opt to cook a more conventional sish that all children enjoy.
When you have closed the menu you can divide the tasks and see when you need to go shopping, what you need to buy, what needs to be done in advance and in how much advance. If you will order the birthday cake or savory make it with time so nothing goes wrong in the party day. If you’re going to bake the birthday cake you can devote yourself to plan how you will make it and you still have time to try new recipes !
Usually two weeks before it is time to invite everyone and formalize the invitations. This gives your guests time to organize their schedules and program their time.
If you’re organizing a birthday party for children you’ll also need this time to deal with any decor and invitations. The kids always choose a theme and we tend to follow them. Being a party for two girls, and because this year they want different theems, I have the enormous challenge of articulating the Monster High with Minnie Mouse in the same space! And with the time I have left until then I hope I’ll get this solved!
On party day You must have a minimum of things to do. Just the things that can only be done on that day. This way you can enjoy your party and your guests without stress!
Hopefully my method will help you parties lighter and fun! And to help you further I offer you a .PDF file with my planners ! I’m offering a Party Menu planner, two formats of shopping lists, guest list and the party planner!
Share your strategies to make the perfect birthay party in my comment box!