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Party 101: Tools You Cannot Host Without

How to stay organized while hosting an event, big or small.

How many times have you prepared something only to realize, as the guests leave or while washing dishes, that you forgot to serve it? I have also forgotten to give out favors or do a planned activity. It’s one of those “duh” moments that can happen — especially when you have a houseful of guests and are enjoying the event. Over the years, I have learned to rely on a few simple tools that help me stay on track, whether it’s a big celebration or a small dinner party. 

Top Four Tools I Cannot Host Without

  1. A Workplan – I am not talking about an Excel spreadsheet with pivot tables. This is a simple table with four or five columns. Down the left I create a row for each dish on the menu. I work two or three days before the event and plan when I will wash/chop/cook/bake everything. For the ‘day of,’ I indicate times that things need to be cooked or baked. The last column is for groceries. I list all ingredients for a dish and cross out those which are already in the pantry or fridge.
A simple workplan is a great tool to organize any event, big or small.
  1. A Run of Show – Once again, keep it simple. For a kids’ party, I would indicate arrival times, times for activities, times for serving “special” things that are not on the buffet such as popsicles or cake. I often put this on a sticky note and carry it around. Which leads to my next tool:
  2. A Dress with Pockets – Unless you wear a toolbelt or fanny pack (no judgment!), you need pockets! I keep a mini run-of-show and sometimes a guestlist, so I can quickly scan to see if everyone has arrived, or assess if we need to adjust the schedule to ensure everyone’s included. 
  3. A Watch – Yes, an old fashioned watch is an important host party tool. I try to avoid looking at my phone too much when hosting, and I find that a wristwatch is the perfect tool.

What tools can you not host without?