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Holiday Countdown 2020: Party Planning & Themed Menus

Welcome to November and the official holiday countdown. At Chandler Interiors, we’re looking forward to a busy season filled with holiday cheer, friends, family and fantastic food. With the chaos of 2020, planning is more important than ever. It ensures that your holiday schedule will be on target with less stress so you can relax and enjoy your time with loved ones. Here’s a helpful checklist to get you started and a few themed menu options that you can personalize for your event:

4-6 Weeks ahead:

  • Set the date and time of each get-together, whether it’s a caroling party, intimate dinners or a lavish buffet.  Mark that calendar.
  • Make your guest lists and consider a quick save the date postcard or informal email.
  • Decide what to serve. Decide preparation or assembly time for each dish. Consider make-ahead recipes you can prepare the day before to pop into the stove from the fridge or freezer quickly. 
  • If you are having your event catered, contact caterers for options and place your order.
  • Setup a quick Note document on your phone, a simple GoogleSheet, or sign up for a free online service like RSVPify.com to manage guest attendance.
  • Select and order printed invitations. 

1-3 Weeks Ahead:

  • Mail formal party invitations three weeks in advance or two weeks if you are throwing a more informal event. 
  • Check your supply of chairs, serving dishes, flatware and glasses.
  • Make a grocery list.  Shop for nonperishables.
  • Clean house, if you are too busy, consider hiring a cleaning crew.
  • Plan your home’s entryway; consider adding seasonal decorations and plants to welcome your guests.
  • If ordering centerpieces and/or table linens or extra occasional tables/chairs, place an order to be delivered the day before the event.

2 – 3 Days Ahead:

  • Set out china, serving dishes and utensils you plan on using.  Polish silver, if needed.
  • Shop for fresh fruit, vegetables and meats.
  • Make place cards (if using).
  • Prepare appropriate storage locations to receive delivery of centerpieces or other items that require temperature-controlled areas or those that will take up a significant amount of space.
  • Wash and dry tablecloths, napkins, table runners or other linens if using your items or drop them at the dry cleaners.

1 Day Ahead:

  • Prepare any of your dishes that can be made ahead.
  • Chill beverages and make sure to have extra ice for keeping items cold and clean ice for serving in glasses if needed.
  • If making your centerpiece(s), buy flowers or clip greenery, berries or flowers from your back yard.
  • Arrange furniture to maximize seating, pulling service chairs from other rooms. Place occasional or folding tables nearby.
  • Press tablecloths, napkins, table runners or other linens if using your items or pick them up from the dry cleaners.

Day of the Event:

  • Set the table(s) and arrange centerpiece(s).
  • Finish preparing food and arrange it on serving dishes. For a buffet or large party, fill additional trays so that you can replenish the table by exchanging a full tray for an empty one.
  • Reserve some time to pamper yourself by enjoying an at-home mini spa morning. Greeting your guests refreshed will allow you to enjoy every minute of your party. 

If you are looking for a few fun, unique ideas for menu options for your holiday event, try these instead of the traditional turkey and ham fare:

  • Lasagna Night:  Go Italian with bread, wine and a delicious finale dessert. Set up a coffee bar with an assortment of cappuccinos and lattes complete with different syrup options.
  • Holiday Cajun Brunch: An easy meal for two to twenty! Quiches, casseroles, fresh fruit, scones, pastries and flavored coffees and juices. A coffee bar is a terrific option for brunch as well, but a Mimosa or Bloody Mary bar a la New Orleans’ famed Palace Café does the trick too.
  • Caroling & Chili:  Warm chili with all the fixings is a great way to warm up. Purchase unique bowls that guests eat from and then take home as gifts. A Hot Cocoa station for the kids and adult beverages like craft beer from your local brewery keep things informal and fun.
  • Late Night Dessert Fest:  How many ways can you serve chocolate? Cookies, cheesecake, Cappuccino Pound Cake and Cherry Chocolate brownies with ice-cold milk are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. 
  • Decorate the Tree:  A one-dish meal such as Chicken Tetrazzini and rolls followed by Coconut Pie and vanilla ice cream provide a different spin on the traditional meal. Purchase a unique ornament to use at each guest’s place setting to take home and place on their tree.
  • Wrapping up Festivities: With the holidays behind you and the New Year approaching, use that leftover turkey for a warm, cozy soup with a slice of crusty bread. Serve your meal by the fire indoors or an outdoor fire pit and relax as you reflect on the memories made this year and the wonderful promises ahead in 2021. 

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