Entertaining,  Family,  Home

Party Planning

This weekend we celebrated Kodi’s birthday. We were very pleased with how much we enjoyed time with friends and family, eating, and hanging out.  Party planning is in my blood. I may not have the experience for extreme decorating or large venues but I know what is important – good food that brings comfort and has options for all guests. This past weekend we decided on chicken tacos on Friday night for friends and a Spanish meal with black beans and rice and a “1905” Colombia Restaurant inspired salad on Sunday afternoon for family. 

The party planning tips that I have learned along the way were inspired by many large church gatherings and my mother. She always said that it is better to have an organized meal than a bunch of items that don’t go together or too many appetizers. That said, the idea is to keep the cost down but still fill the hearts and bellies of your guests. There is nothing better than inviting someone to your table and sharing a meal. We enjoy the hosting, which is great because  we have become a hub for gathering our friends. I think that this is because we desire connection with people in a quality way. Quality time with people is one of the best parts of life. 

A great party planning tip is to decide on a menu and stick with it according to the budget you have in mind. For us, deciding the menu is usually based on knowing the number of guests invited. I will say that we do over cook most of the time, but the leftovers are never wasted.  It makes sense to have things go a long way and a menu that is versatile for different eating habits. We have our casual crowd pleaser go-to like taco night, chili and toppings, shepherd’s pie, Italian meals like lasagna or ziti, or hearty soups. Another way to make meals go a long way when keeping cost in mind is picking a cheaper protein like chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs and grilling. We tend to save the steaks or costly items for a group of less than ten. This isn’t because big gatherings don’t deserve steak it’s just a budget strategy. 

Another major planning tip that was a lifesaver for this busy mother of two with a full-time job is having our groceries delivered. This is a mind-blowing and life-changing service. We use Instacart but there are other services that are great also. I made my list the weekend before, entered my order, and scheduled the delivery time to be close to the party date to keep the items fresh. We love to go to the grocery store but sometimes the time saving is everything! Also, not having to take your kids into a store is a priceless time saver.  Instacart is really a lifeline for us! Our kids are usually great, but every child has their moments in public that makes the process take twice as long. 

We used our Instant Pot for each gathering. The Instant Pot is great because it is a “set it and forget it” appliance. I highly encourage using an appliance like this because it saves you from slaving away at the stove and ensures a meal that is very tasty and cooked well. We have a great Instant Pot recipe for chicken tacos that always turns out well for us and which we will be sharing soon. For our family gathering on Sunday afternoon, we used the Instant Pot to make the black beans and rice, which is a favorite amongst our family. With the Instant Pot, your black beans are done in less than an hour and you don’t have to soak them. It is a miracle! I hope these tips help you in planning your next gathering.

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