Don’t Be Tardy for the Party!

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Staring at my calendar this morning, I'm realizing that Thanksgiving, my favorite fat day of the year is approaching! I mean, where has the time gone?! Just saying...

Normally around this time of the year, I am packing me and my itty bit up - headed north for loads of family fellowship and festivities. Unfortunately, at six months pregnant, that eleven hour drive is not looking too hot.

Feeling the pressure to keep up with tradition for my itty bits sake, I've decided to throw a last minute Thanksgiving party for a few close friends and colleagues.

Thankfully, I came across a great article from Refinery29 with some last minute party planning tips. Check them out:

1. Devise your battle plan in transit. On my subway ride home, I start to really focus on the task at hand. What am I making? What's my grocery list? What are the steps I need to go through to get it all done? Having it plotted out helps me to feel confident and collected.

2. Don't over complicate your shopping location. Skip the specialty stores and go for one grocery store and the wine store (if you can get your S.O. or a friend who's coming to take care of the wine, all the better!).

3. Pre-washed greens are a godsend. These are my secret weapon because they cut prep time significantly. They now sell pre-washed greens of all sorts so it's super fast to make salads, sauteed greens, or soup with them.

4. Deli flowers can be fabulous. Again, it's one-stop shopping. Skip the pre-made roses and baby's breath bouquets and mix and match your own combination for something a little more unique and special.

5. Keep a few quality ingredients on hand. I'm usually stocked with a piece of good Parmesan, a bottle of good olive oil, and some quality olives. I think having a few nice ingredients means you can pick everything else up at your regular supermarket (or souped-up deli). While it's amazing to have the best farmers' market ingredients and artisenal bread, if you're in a rush, sometimes it is just not possible.

6. First stop: snacks. This is the best trick in the book because it buys you time. If you have snacks out as soon as guests arrive, they won't be famished and you won't feel as much pressure to finish cooking in a hurry. Plus, it draws out the dinner party! And remember: Wine counts as a snack.

7. Make a great playlist. You don't want to have to worry about DJing, so make a trusted playlist of great music that's fun but that guests can talk over. We suggest putting it on right when you get home to get you in the mood.

8. Focus on one recipe and keep the rest simple. I usually pick one dish which becomes the focus of the meal and try to keep the rest very simple.

9. Make sides that can be served at room temperature. Roasted veggies, salads, etc. can be served at room temperature and will keep the stress of perfect timing to a minimum.

10. Keep calm and cook on. Remember, a dinner party is a success more for the ambiance and company than for over-the-top food, so keep it simple, don't stress yourself out, and have a good time! If you're comfortable and happy, your guests will feel welcome.

11. Go with what you know. If you're strapped for time, don't overdo the menu. Make something you're comfortable preparing...this is not the time to go all Martha Stewart. For me, that means a more elaborate pasta dish with simple arugula salad and roasted vegetables.

12. Don't skip dessert! But don't make dessert either. You can't do it all, so plan for a dessert that's easy - try a store bought pie. My go-to is ice cream with berries and a little liqueur poured on top. It's pretty, super-easy, and a crowd pleaser. I'm also a fan of grapes, strawberries, and dark chocolate or regular old cookies and milk.

13. Serve family style. It's fun and communal and you don't have to worry about plating! But most importantly? Have fun! Dinner parties should be a joy for your guests and for you.

Party on people!

Words By: Ruthie Hawkins

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