It is more than likely that you will at some point of time or the other, have to oversee an event ranging from a simple meal to a cultural event or even a convention.
Here is a simple checklist of how to do it in a well-organized manner.
1. Plan well ahead, down to the last detail. Prepare everything as much in advance as possible.
2. If you are going to cook yourself try out the dishes once before hand. Do not experiment with new dishes on the day of a big party. Leave time to relax and entertain your guests properly.
3. Send invitations that include your address and telephone number making it easier for the guest to find the place. Mention the type of party it will be example Buffet Lunch, Supper, Cocktails, Barbecue, Child's Birthday, etc.
4. Keep place settings ready for a formal sit down dinner. They should be pretty but not over-elaborate. Make sure guests have all the necessary crockery and cutlery available to them.
5. Keep the lighting soft and subtle. Don't bring in harsh disco lights and strobes or keep the room very dimly lit. Cater for entertainment during the party, depending on the event anything from soft music, to party games and dancing can qualify. For childrens' parties have attractively wrapped gifts for prizes for the games. Also have a small token gift for all the children to take home.
6. Drinks can include Aperitifs before the meal including aerated drinks, fruit juices, spirit based drinks such as gin, vodka, whiskey, Campari, vermouth, Madeira, etc. Wine is traditionally served during the meal. A general guideline is that white meat and fish is served with a red wine while red meat and game are served with a white wine.
7. Make sure you have enough ice for drinks. A choice between Brandy, Port or Coffee is availed after the meal.
8. Eat away, but not too far away, from the kitchen so that food is eaten warm and not served ice cold. Make full use of sideboards and side tables to save clutter and legwork.
9. The meal menu will depend on the kind of party it is. If it a cocktail then have heavy snacks. If it is a dinner, conventional menus can be followed. If it is a picnic, sandwiches are your best bet. Be extra careful if you are planning an outdoor barbecue with fire. Ensure basic fire safety precautions are taken and have an extinguisher on hand. Warn children present to stay away from the barbecue stand.
10. Presentation is everything. Garnish the food to make it look attractive, garnishes and decorations should be edible so use lemon twists, tomato roses, spring onion tassels, cucumber wheels, carrot noses, etc.
11. Ensure that you inquire about the eating habits of your guests before you invite them. It can be embarrassing to have vegetarians over for a pure chicken and meat barbecue. Plus it will save you last minute hassles of having to cater to their meal.
12. Desserts should complement the food. For instance a dessert tray should follow a Continental meal while an Indian meal can be followed by halwas, pedas, barfis, and other sweetmeats. If you do not wish to go through all the trouble to set up assorted dessert trays, just have Ice cream. It is popular with adults and children.
Don't panic if things go wrong. Keep smiling and improvise. Your guests will never know the difference. Most of all enjoy yourself and your guests will too!