All it takes is a little bit of planning, careful shopping, and patience to organise a party. Here are some tips from my experience and hope it helps you all.
1) First of all know the nationality of your guests: This will help you to notch down your spice level, plus keep a dish with global appeal just in case they don’t like surprises. Like pasta, salad, garlic bread, soup and so on. It’s always better to keep something special from your country for them to know your culture but check their spice preference.
2) Get to know your guest’s diet restrictions: Find out whether they have diabetes, food allergy, have cholesterol or any other problem. Your guests are special, please consider this.
3) Once you have the number of guests attending, first look at your pantry and see the things you already have. Kindly make a checklist.
4) If your party is on Thursday, start shopping on Tuesday: Meat needs to be fresh for particular dishes, so pick it up on Wednesday evening or frozen is fine too. Just thaw on the same day of cooking and never make the mistake of refreezing frozen stuff again that has been thawed.
5) Plan the menu before you shop: Keep one starter/appetiser, 2 vegetarian dishes, 2 dishes non vegetarian, 1 rice, 1 salad, 1 yoghurt or dip and 1 or 2 desserts. This menu is for about 10/12 people attending. Reduce the dishes as per the number. Variety always makes the dining table look colourful and welcoming. Adjust as per your number.
6) Have a welcome drink as this adds a gloss to your hospitality. Make a lemonade, a fresh juice or whatever is easy for you and serve the moment they enter your home.
7) Calculate the children coming and prepare a dish particularly for them. Such as a pasta, pizza, or wraps. This makes them very happy and they go about singing how your party was the best for them.
8) Keep the colour scheme of food in mind and balance dry and wet dishes: Make sure all your food isn’t dry. If you have fried chicken complement it with gravy and mash.
9) All of these are for home cooking but if you wish to cater from outside, make sure the food is fresh and from a well known registered caterer.
10) It’s not possible that you wake up one fine morning and decide to cook for 10 or more people by evening. You need to make tiny preps before hand — make ginger-garlic paste, cut your vegetables and store them (not onions), make the chutneys a day earlier, make your pasta or pesto sauce a day before, marinate the chicken/ meat a good 20 hours before for the flavours to set in. Pound your spices a day before. Some desserts need to be made a day before for the flavours to soak in. Baking needs to be done by afternoon if it involves cake, muffins or brownies as cooling them before time ensures great frosting.
11) Golden rule: Do not ever try a new dish on your guests. If you want to try this — experiment on your husband or wife first as they are your true critics. Practise the new dish twice or thrice till you ace it before you try it on your guests.
12) Cook as per the weather too. When it’s hot and humid outside, focus on fresh salads, less spicy curries, and fresh yoghurt dips. Plan your meals as per seasons. If you plan a barbecue, do so in winters. And make sure you have a biryani or some rice dish as a back up just in case the BBQ doesn’t go too well.
13) Try and be well rested on the day of your party. You need to be attentive and chirpy. Make your guests feel at home with constant attention but at the same time don’t force them to overeat. Let them enjoy.
14) If you have children get them involved in the party. I make achievement batches for my girls, whenever they lay the table or serve my guests. This makes them very happy. Or give them a star on their hands for helping you out.
With these tips in mind and execution - it’s a piece of cake to plan a party.