Memorial Day Party: Planning Tips

Happy Memorial Day!

Yesterday Pete and I had our first party as homeowners, a Memorial Day/Housewarming party for our friends. I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous. Would there be enough to eat? Enough seating? Entertainment?

On the menu:

  • Caprese (recipe coming this week)
  • Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Spinach Dip
  • Veggie Platter
  • Tray of Baked Ziti
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Watermelon

As for drinks, we got a 1/2 keg of Bud Select, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, sodas, and waters.

Below are some time and money saving tips when preparing for a party:

1. Have everything out a few nights before.

I find it helpful to take out all of the platters I would need for various appetizers and to pair them up with the serving spoon I would use. This helped me visualize where everything would go and if I had enough platters.

2. Make as much as you can yourself to avoid spending $$ getting your party catered.

I know, I know, you’re thinking time. If you plan it right, time will not be an issue. For example, while the ziti was in the oven, I sliced up the mozzarella and tomato for the caprese, etc.

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Think about how much a tray of ziti would be from a caterer…I did a little research of Italian caterers online and came up with $65. It cost me no where near $65 to make it myself. Just a little bit of time.

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I also made two half trays instead of one full tray to save room in the fridge (easier to stack half trays then find room for a full tray). This was you could serve one while keeping the other warm.

And the veggie platter? I was totally planning on buying a premade one from the store until I saw the price tag of $14.99. And it didn’t have a great assortment of veggies! I easily made this one myself by chopping up veggies the night before, covering it with Saran wrap, and putting it in the fridge till party time. I saved about $5 and had a better variety of vegetables that I picked out.

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3. Pick a category (desserts, appetizers, etc) to tell people who offer to bring something.

Our friends are always so kind and generous and will ask us what they can bring. I usually pick a category, in this case desserts, and anyone who asked me I said it would be great if they could bring a dessert.

Many friends brought appetizer dishes as well and our table went from this (some food was outside)…

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…to this!

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Once it was dessert time, I cleared away the appetizers and put out all of the delicious offerings our friends had brought.

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We had a great variety and it was one thing as a hostess I did not have to worry about.

Pete and I had purchased watermelon as well, which was put out alongside the dessert. I asked my friends Lauri and Ryan to slice up some watermelon (as I most likely would’ve chopped a finger off) and they did a really nice job.

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4. Make sure you have plenty of seating.

We were having 2o people, which doesn’t sound like much, but our backyard is mostly trees so space was a concern. Even though every time we’ve entertained people are up and about most of the time, I want to ensure there is ample seating. This ended up being no problem after borrowing some tables and chairs from friends and family to set up in the side yard.

5. Have your entertainment planned out.

The night before the party, Pete created a “BBQ Playlist.” He made sure it had about 6 hours worth of songs that would cater to all crowds. He received many compliments on it throughout the night!

I borrowed horseshoes from my dad to set up on the side of our house and there were a few games going of that. Later, one of our friends brought quoits which seems to be a “Northwest New Jersey and Northeast Pennsylvania” game, so I’m told. The objective is to get the rubber disk on the slate board closest to the ring.

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As night descended…flip cup time!

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For our first party, I’d say it was a success 🙂

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What are your money and time saving tips for party planning?

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