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8 Expert Entertaining Tips from Shawn Rabideau

Organization is the key to any successful soiree. Make sure you have your ducks in a row with these helpful tips from Shawn Rabideau!

1. Set a budget.

Be sure to allocate money to food, beverage, décor and always allow at least 10% for the extras that might pop up

2. Create a "To Do" list and then a timeline. 

Creating a to do list it will help you manage your own expectations of what has to get done. A timeline will help you manage what has to get done and by when it should be done by. Setting deadlines and sticking to them help alleviate stress.  However, do not set unrealistic timelines for yourself…doing so will stress you out.

You should be sure to include the week of the event, a few days out, the day prior and the day off.  Also be sure to schedule time for yourself to take a breather, shower, change and relax and get a bite to eat. Chances are if socializing you may not eat yourself. And always leave enough time for buffer so that if you are running behind you will still be on time for your party.

3. When creating your budget think about enlisting the help of people that aren't attending your party.

Such as a local bartending school or a college with a hotel management program.  These individuals are excited to work and make a little extra cash. Doing so will help you relax and allow you to enjoy your party. When doing this have the person(s) come to your home a day or two before the party so you can run through the party with them. Where your supplies are, what the menu is and how you like your party to be run. This way you won't be doing it right before the party and the person won't be pulling you away to ask questions.

4. Be organized. 

No matter how small or large your party create an organized binder with tabs. We do this all the time in the event world and it allows us to have information at our finger tips. Keep a separate tab for each category. Budget with a place for receipts and some petty cash in case the person helping you needs to run out and purchase something last minute. A tab for food, bar, décor and a tab with everyone's contact information.

5. Create your menu.

When doing so create items that are hearty and easy to prep a day (or days) in advance. Create foods that perhaps can be kept at room temp that can be passed easily. Cheese trays and veggie trays are always a hit. Mediterranean trays are a great alternative. You know your guests best so serve foods that they like. Just because you don't like mushrooms doesn't mean others feel the same.

6. When creating your bar stick to beer, wine and one specialty cocktail that doesn't require a lot of ingredients and time. 

Doing this will save you time, money and clean up! If you are concerned about not having matching glasses, don’t worry.  Mix match them and no one will care!

7. Chances are your guests will ask what they can bring or you know your guests are bound to bring something. 

Something I do for all my parties is I ask each guest to bring a specific item. This way you control what is brought and you know it will get put to good use that very day at your party.

For example, if you are throwing a Cinco de Mayo party ask one guest to bring tequila, another other sour mix and yet another ice. You just saved time and money by asking your guests to bring the ingredients to the cocktail of the day. Now it's always good to have extra supplies just in case someone doesn't show…but I personally never worry about this…I just go with the flow!

8. For décor, go simple and easy. 

At night I always dim the lights (especially if you didn't have time to clean) and I use a ton of candles. That always creates a fabulous tone for any party. Then I always dot my home with simple blooms that are all the same. 

Purchase all roses or orchids or whatever your favorite bloom is and put them in what you have at home. Potted bulb plants are always nice such as tulips, hyacinth, or even daffodils. just put the plastic pot into a slightly larger terra cotta pot (line the bottom) and viola you have yourself a festive spring time décor. Also think of longevity and what is around you…ask your neighbor if you can cut a few sprigs off their flowering plum tree or forsythia that might be growing on the side of the road.  Flowering branches make a huge statement and last forever!

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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Exotic Cocktail Recipe Video Link to video gallery. Upgrade your spring sips with this cocktail tutorial. »

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