Crowd Control Back to Articles
Planning—and pulling off—a large formal or casual gathering may seem daunting. With these pointers you'll quickly earn the title "Host with the Most."
Setting a manageable schedule and sticking to it will allow you to enjoy the festivities with your guests when party day rolls around:
Rent some fun: Check rental stores, online or in the phone book for unexpected ideas, from a singing telegram to an inflatable playground for a kids' backyard party.
Take the guesswork out of food preparation by ordering party platters and desserts from your neighborhood Publix as well as preparing as many recipes as possible ahead of time.
Choosing the Location
For a crowd-pleasing party site that's comfortable for everyone, consider the following:
Base your site decision on the number of people you're expecting, the types of activities, the foods you'll serve (formal meal vs. finger foods), entertainment and intimacy level desired.
Provide plenty of chairs and small tables to invite guests to mingle. Move larger pieces of furniture to an unused room in the house.
Prepare for inclement weather at an outdoor event with a backup plan. Have an indoor location identified or a rented tent set up that can comfortably hold all of your guests.
Share the fun of party planning: From your sister's superb spring rolls to your neighbor's decorating expertise, everyone has something to offer.
Depending on the size and complexity of the event, delegate tasks to your spouse, family or friends. For instance, ask a family member to help clear dishes or replenish drinks. Consider co-hosting the event with a close friend so you can both collaborate on the planning and preparations.
Try a casual potluck, especially if this is your first time hosting a large event. Provide the main dishes and have guests bring their favorite sides and desserts or let your neighborhood Publix handle the food prep.
Feeding a Crowd
Fill your menu with a spread of food and beverages to ensure that no one walks away hungry:
Plan for 50 percent more food than you think guests will eat. Whip up multiple batches of a specific recipe rather than trying to double or triple the ingredients in one recipe.
Set up an organized buffet spread if you expect more than 10 people, but separate the beverage and dessert tables from the main buffet to avoid traffic jams.
- Follow this guide for appetizers:
- 4 to 5 per guest if a meal will be served shortly after the party starts
- 6 to 7 per guest if the meal doesn't immediately follow
- 8 to 9 per guest—plus one hearty option—if appetizers will replace a formal meal
Serve one easy-to-prepare drink such as punch rather than a variety of individual alcoholic drinks so you don't have to play bartender. Offer several nonalcoholic beverages. Check out our beverage guide
to help determine how many beverages you'll need.
Put out several garbage cans in logical places so guests aren't searching.