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  • Bari Goldstein

How to be a guest at your own Labor Day party


It is hard to believe that Labor Day is only 3 weeks away! I know, where did the summer go? If you are thinking of hosting a Labor Day BBQ but dread the time, energy and work it is going to take, read on. With these simple pre-planning steps, all the preparation can be done in advance and you can relax and enjoy being a guest at your own party.

Here is the good news. The fact that you are thinking of having a party 3 weeks in advance is already a step in the stress-free direction.


2-3 Weeks in Advance:

Guest List: The first thing you need to do is figure out your guest list. Send out your invites and finalize your numbers.

Menu: Now is the time to prepare your menu. By the way, there is nothing wrong with asking guests to contribute a dish. Your friends will all be happy to do so and it takes some of the burden off of you. However, you do need to keep track of who is bringing what so you don’t end up with too many side dishes and not enough desserts. As you are looking through your recipes, pay particular attention to recipes that can be prepared in advance. That is key to freeing you from the kitchen when your guests arrive.

Party Supplies: Before you run to the store to purchase your paper plates, plastic cups/silverware and napkins, take stock of what you already own. You will be surprised at how much you may have on hand. All party supplies can be purchased in advance.

Set Up: If you need to rent tables and chairs do that now. Have them delivered a day or 2 before the party. Determine what tables you need for serving, for the bar, for hors d’oeuvres and where they will be placed.


1-2 Weeks in Advance:

Shopping List: Take stock of what is already in your pantry and what you will need to buy. This is a great time to also check expiration dates and dispose those expired items. Your list should be divided into items that can be purchased in advance and items that need to be purchased a day or 2 before the party. Purchase all the advanced items now.

Food Preparation: If any of your recipes can be frozen, this is the time to prepare and freeze them.


1-2 Days in Advance:

Shopping: Buy the perishable items from your shopping list. Remember to have enough ice on hand. Either make the ice ahead of time and put it into plastic bags or buys bags of ice.

Food Preparation: As the day of the party approaches, prepare as much as possible in advance. Can you store the recipes in the dishes they will be served in? If yes, do so. If not, assemble your serving dishes and utensils. Label each dish and utensil with the name of the recipe. (Personally, figuring out what serving dishes to use causes me the most stress. Doing this in advance takes a weight off my shoulders.)

If you froze any dishes, remember to take them out of the freezer. If you are serving hamburgers, form the patties now. Marinate any protein that requires marinating over-night unless otherwise instructed.

Set Up: You want to make sure your tables and chairs are on hand and ready to be set up the day of the party. If the weather permits, you may be able to do this a day in advance.


Day of the Party:

Food Preparation: Make any remaining recipes in the morning. All non-perishable food can be placed in their serving dishes. Refrigerated items should be ready to be put in their serving dishes or prepped to be cooked.

Set Up: Your table and chairs are set and ready. All paper products are on hand. The bar is set (except for the ice).


Final Touches:

A half hour before: Set up your hors d’oeuvres.

All the prep work is done and you can relax and enjoy being a guest with your guests. You are ready to party!

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