I hate to admit, but this Party Pro failed at this weekend’s party. Yep, I really messed up. With twenty years’ experience planning and throwing parties you’d think I could pull off a Saturday night gathering with friends. But I came up short. And it stings. Because, well, I consider myself a pro. Here’s how it all went wrong…
The weekend was perfect for a Mothers & Daughters party because 1) my chef husband was out of town, and 2) the weather was good, and 3) all our friends were available. So I threw up an Evite, got 13 RSVPs early in the week and used my pro skills to plan the party on my own. That was my first mistake.
I made a pre-party list (that’s where you break out all the tasks between the days leading up to the party so you don’t have to do it all on ‘game day’). Oh, and it was a 'game day', literally (my daughter was playing in the marching band at the football game and would be done at 4p). Party starts at 6p. No problem. I deftly spread the prep tasks between Thursday (shop, get out supplies…), Friday (prep, pick up flowers, get out chairs and lay out serving dishes…), and Saturday (go to the football game, come home to put enchiladas in the oven, whip up guac and salsa and serve when guests arrive). Perfect plan, right?
Then, as always happens, changes happened. My girlfriend called and asked if I could swing by after the game to pick her up for the party (she’s injured and can’t drive). Sure! That was my second mistake: she didn’t get on the list.
When I got home from the game (Truckee High lost, bummer), I quickly showered and got ready for guests. Then, in the midst of welcoming guests and fetching their drinks, I grabbed my phone to turn off the ringer and put it away for the night (good manners, right?!).
The night was going to be perfect: the food was starting to make the house smell yummy, everyone was munching on apps and the talk was warm and engaging. That’s when I noticed the text on my phone. I was horrified!
I had FORGOTTEN to pick up my friend! Oh no! I had actually forgotten to pick up one of the guests!
And that one thing, from that moment, made everything else fall apart.
The guest of honor left. Left! She jumped in the car with another friend to pick up the missing guest, which threw off the timing, which got me flustered; which made my daughter turn on a movie, which made our slideshow turn off and require a full reboot to start again, which got me flustered; which meant we started about 25 minutes later than planned, which meant the dinner in the oven was slightly overdone. Which got me flustered.
I had spent each of the days leading up to the party planning out the details. Even the menu was a just-pull-it-out-of-the-oven type, so I could be a guest at my own party.
These are all pro moves. And one tiny detail threw it all out of whack. Even for a pro. (Ok, forgetting to pick up a friend is a BIG detail!)
But that’s not all!
At the end of the night, as I spent the wee hours clearing the patio, washing dishes and putting things away, I looked in the frigde.
Remember how I told you I planned everything out so I wouldn’t forget anything? That’s when I realized my third mistake(s):
- I hadn’t added cilantro to my entrée
- I forgot to get out and slice the chilled watermelon
- The hot sauce my husband made was still sitting on the shelf-we’d eaten without getting to enjoy it.
- I didn’t garnish my apps with the herbs I’d cut and put in the refrigerator
- And the cake didn’t get dusted with cocoa powder
I was horrified at my performance! There were so many details for even this small impromptu party, and despite being a ‘pro’ I missed some of the marks of perfection. I was really embarrassed at the way I’d overlooked so many details during the night.
It’s true many of the ‘missing pieces’ weren’t even noticed by my guests – but I knew. It really discouraged me. For TWENTY years I’ve run this business helping people throw personal, distinctive and effortless parties and a simple thrown-together evening with my friends and their daughters had so many holes in it because I simply couldn't execute all the details myself.
Now I’ve learned firsthand the lessons I always warn our clients about:
1. You can’t do it all yourself and also be a guest at your own party.
2. Having professional help for even small parties means you can adjust to last minute changes.
3. If you want to have fun at your party, (i.e. not get flustered) don’t be the one in charge of fixing things that go wrong!
I surely thought the menu was simple enough I wouldn't need a chef; and the party was casual enough that I didn’t need a server to assist. But I missed half of the football game in which my daughter marched, was running frantic most of the day, and got thrown off my plan with one misstep. And wasn’t being with, and enjoying the company of my daughter and our friends the very point of the party?!
And so I’ve made a promise to myself. No more trying to do it all myself!
You don't have to learn this the hard way. But if you’ve learned this lesson, HeyChef! is here to keep it from happening again during your most special events. For help, call us at 530-582-4882, text us at 530-414-3439, or start your reservation here. Don’t be a flustered hostess! Be a pro, and be a guest at your own party!