personal chef

Checklist for a stress-free themed party

I love to plan, but I’m often paralyzed by my perfectionist (please-like-me) nature and just the endless options to choose from. Over the last few years though, I have thrown and seen too many Pinterest-perfect parties to count, and I’ve found that it really sucks the life out of a party. You stay up all night decorating mason jars and gluing googly eyes to sea creatures, then you have to clean up the glitter bomb that is your house and before you know it, you’re running down the stairs to greet guests with wet hair (maybe no one will notice if it’s in a messy bun) and little, if any makeup because you just spent every. waking. moment. for the last 72 hours, re-creating the deep blue sea in your living room. It’s all too much. The party becomes not about the people or the person being celebrated, but about you and what you did and how creative you are. Meanwhile, your three year old is like, “That looks pretty mommy! Can we go play outside?” Party favors, food labels and 3-tiered cakes dominate the photos instead of the smiling faces of kiddos and guests enjoying conversation. Your friends and family are so enamored by all of these amazing creations that they’re feeling inadequate and already stressing about how they could even come close to doing this for their next event…four months from now.

So, I’m not here to say that theme parties are a no-no, but let’s talk about how you can throw a party that people will remember for how much fun it was and how great it made them feel to be in your home.

1. Allow Pinterest to inspire you, not rule you.

I start there nearly every time. There are a lot of creative people out there and those over-the-top parties do get your creative juices flowing, but you can follow a theme without having it reflected in catchy names for goldfish crackers and custom-labeled water bottles.

2. Simple food.

For example:

  • Beach theme- incorporate tropical fruit in some of your menu items
  • Cowboy theme- BBQ and the usual accompaniments will be fantastic
  • Movie night- popcorn, candy, maybe soft pretzels
Case & point...I forgot to take pictures of the food! I served Peachy BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with Jicama Mango Slaw and Hummus with Veggies for our Beach Blanket Bunco themed event. Also served but not pictured: Strawberry, Watermelon & Basil water, Coconut Frozen Mojitos and Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn.

Case & point...I forgot to take pictures of the food! I served Peachy BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with Jicama Mango Slaw and Hummus with Veggies for our Beach Blanket Bunco themed event. Also served but not pictured: Strawberry, Watermelon & Basil water, Coconut Frozen Mojitos and Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn.

And don’t kill yourself having a ton of options. Chances are you know if you have someone coming who’s vegan or diabetic, and by all means, accommodate that. But really, two appetizers, an entrée with one or two sides and one dessert is plenty. The only dessert one can expect at a birthday party is cake and ice cream. Offering cookies & candy too is a waste of money and a disservice to your guest’s waistline. Check out this infographic for guidelines on how much food to make:

How Much Food Do You Need? Get Your Catering Order Right

From Visually.

3. Limited beverages.

We used to offer every major soft drink, tea, water, lemonade, juice boxes for the kids, etc and we were left with a counter-full of half-empty 2-liters. I was making more tea halfway through the party and rushing to get more water on ice. Now we offer tea, water and juice pouches for the kids. If one is that particular about what they want to drink, they will bring it themselves. Bring on the Tervis & the Yetis!

Offering cocktails? I usually make a themed cocktail and the rest is BYOB. Of course, if it’s in my bar and you want it, it’s yours! But you will most likely never succeed in accommodating everyone, so let everyone know what you’ll be serving and they can take it from there.

4. Offer hospitality over perfection.

These are (some) of the women I play bunco with each month. We all take turns hosting, cooking, loving & praying for each other!

These are (some) of the women I play bunco with each month. We all take turns hosting, cooking, loving & praying for each other!

THIS. More than anything, people will remember how you made them feel. Relax. Feed them. Love them. My best friend does this better than anyone I know. People want to feel genuinely welcomed into your home, your real home, by the real you. 

Also, rest assured, if you really lack the time or the food part of entertaining isn't your thing, you can always hire a personal chef (like me) to do it for you!

Give Yourself Permission

permissiongranted-someecard.jpg

Give yourself permission...

  • to put aside the to-do list. 
  • to truly enjoy a game of tickle monster.
  • to use paper plates.
  • to not do it all.
  • to not feel bad about not doing it all.
  • to hire help.

There are a million blog posts about these permissions that we should give ourselves. Most of them tell you what you should give yourself permission to do/not do, but don't offer many solutions on how to do/not do that. I'm here to offer you a solution: me. 

I saw a post not long ago that said we should give ourselves permission to not feel like we have to cook a gourmet, organic, unprocessed, kid-friendly meal every night of the week. I'm totally on board with that. I'm also on board with the "not feeling guilty about that" part of it, but that's easier said than done. What if you could feed your family a homemade, organic, unprocessed, kid-friendly meal most of the time and not have to cook it?

You hire McDonald's to cook for your family how many nights per week? What casual dining restaurants to you frequent, paying them to feed your family? Some of these occasions are celebrations, but by-and-large, most of these occasions are because of lack of energy, lack of planning or lack of time. 

Hire me. Give me permission to do the planning, to use my energy and spend my time to cook your family what you really want to feed them and what they really want to eat. Give me permission to come into your home, to cook your meals, to clean. your. kitchen. 

You don't have to use my meal service for an every night solution. We can come up with a plan for fresh and/or frozen meals to fill in the gaps for when you haven't had the focus to plan, the energy to shop, or the time to cook.  I know what you're thinking, but you can absolutely afford a personal chef. How much is dinner for your family at McDonald's? My family of four will easily cost $25, and double that if we take them to a decent sit-down dinner. Add appetizers and soft drinks (or kids that don't eat from the kids menu anymore) and you've racked up a $100 food bill for ONE DINNER. I have meal services that range from $5-$20/serving. My 5 meal/4 servings meal plan costs just $100 for the groceries. The rest of my fee covers the meal planning, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning. of. your. kitchen. 

Take notice in the next month of how much time you spend meal planning & grocery shopping. How much money do you spend at the grocery store? How much frustration did you endure with the toddler asking for every brightly colored package and the tween asking, "Are we done yet? Can we go now?" (insert the obligatory eye roll) How many meals do you cook with that food you paid/went through so much to get? How much money do you spend eating out? How much food do you throw away? 

I put every ounce of effort into crafting fresh meals, with love...love for real food, love for your family, love for your health, well-being and happiness. 

Once we go over your family's taste preferences, I'll come up with a menu that makes everyone happy. And as an added bonus, my friends and family will attest that I have vastly expanded their palette. You may find that your kids (and you!) aren't so picky after all. It is truly a joy for me to feed people good, real food. And taking away the "mom guilt," that is the homemade chocolate icing on the not-from-a-box cake! 

So give yourself permission to not do it all. You and your family need healthy food, meals together and time to do so many other things you'd rather be doing. I'm in the kitchen so you don't have to be!