Stress less, eat more.
1. Replace ice cubes with frozen limes or lemons.
You can also freeze grapes for people to put in their glasses of wine. From here.
2. Let guests fix their own drinks, and provide an array of garnishes.
Like this cool muddling bar. That way, everyone gets something they like. And you don’t have to spend time mixing a punch. (Unless you want to. Punch is tasty). Adorbs Mad Scientist party from here.
3. Supply ingredients for nonalcoholic drinks, too.
They can be really tasty and feel just as special. That way people who have to drive home don’t feel like they’re missing out. Get a recipe here.
4. Throw a lot of parties? Keep your bottles on a tray for easy transport to the table.
Or even better, a bar cart. (Sometimes alcohol is just better if you can wheel it from room to room). From here.
5. Do fewer dishes and insist your guests stick with one glass all night with the help of some chalkboard paint.
This DIY is also reusable for future parties.
6. Part one: the literal menus. How about on paper bags?
You can print them out using your inkjet at home. See how here.
See how pretty they can be?
You can fill them with snacks like breadsticks or popcorn to keep guests happy if you need to finish up cooking. From here.
7. Feeling like you have some extra time on your hands? (HAHAHA). Make cootie catcher menus.
These would also be cute for invites. From here.
(Not sure how to fold cootie catchers? Get instructions here.)
8. If you want to cook yourself, make the food ahead.
You should also have a food rehearsal — make the dish for dinner a couple of weeks before your party so you’re sure it tastes good and is easy enough to make.
9. OR you could make it easy on yourself and host a potluck.
That saves you money and time. You can still decorate to make it feel special. Just make sure everyone commits to a dish. This website makes it easy to see who is bringing what.
10. Tie colorful ribbons on the back of your chairs.
You could go nuts and tie ribbons everywhere: your centerpieces, your place settings, the blades on your ceiling fan…
11. Stack citrus on a platter for a double-duty centerpiece.
If your guests don’t nom on them, you can always eat them later. From here.
12. Use washi tape for napkin rings.
(You’ll have to use cloth napkins, though). From here.
13. Write on fruit with a paint pen for pretty place cards.
Just use fruit with thick skin, like this pomegranate or an orange, so the paint doesn’t seep through to the edible parts. From here.
14. Two words: globe lights.
Globe lights everywhere. Or candles, but you probably shouldn’t try to hang those on your wooden fence. From here.
15. Save a couple of weekends’ worth of wine bottles to use as candle holders.
It’s a perfect excuse to drink extra wine. They don’t even all have to be clear bottles. IMHO, you get bonus points for lots of different shapes, heights and colors. From here.
16. Bake cupcakes for dessert, then use the extra wrappers to make “flowers”
17. Keep the flies at bay with lemons and cloves.
Obviously this is only necessary if your party is outdoors. Put them out about half an hour before you plan to serve food. From here.
18. Put all of your mismatched plates to work.
It’s trendy! Or save time on cleanup and use paper plates (but maybe use recycled, compostable ones). From here.
19. Let other parents bring their kids over and feed them en masse.
Grilled cheese typically appeases even picky eaters, and won’t take too much time away from cooking the grown-up food.
Plus…the grown-ups might be kind of into them, too. From here.
20. Make a bowl of mocktails.
This is just watermelon and seltzer (directions here). So. Easy. Then send them outside to play! Or put on a movie! Anything to distract them while you enjoy all of the delicious food you just cooked.