Holiday Party-Planning Timeline Checklist

Not sure whether to chill the wine or just plain chill? Consult our handy guide.

Classic Champagne Cocktail
Photo: JOHN LAWTON

2 Weeks Before

  • Reserve a coatrack at a local party-rental supply.

1 Week Before

  • Clean glasses and serving dishes. Create a playlist.

3 Days Before

  • Buy food, alcohol, punch mixers, napkins, garbage bags, and toilet paper.

1 Day Before

  • Prepare the Crab and Chive Puffs and the Hot Ricotta Dip (but do not bake). Make the Mini Gingerbread Cupcakes and frosting (store them separately).

  • Clean the house. Rearrange the furniture. Top the side tables with trays (for used dishes). Place plates, napkins, and serving utensils on the buffet, and glasses and napkins on the bar. Set out extra platters for any dishes that guests may bring.

  • Fill large bowls with nuts and clementines. Set them on the coffee table.

6 Hours Before

  • Make the house drink, but leave out the fizzy stuff. Frost the cupcakes.

3 Hours Before

  • Buy the ice.

2 Hours Before

  • Bake the Maple-Glazed Ham. Shower, primp, and put on an apron.

1/2 Hour Before

  • Bake the Crab and Chive Puffs. Slice the ham and put it out with the biscuits, condiments, and pickled vegetables.

  • Uncork the wine and make an ice bath for the wine, beer, and sparkling wine. Fill the ice buckets. Finish the house drink and put it in a punch bowl or several large pitchers.

  • Fill a plastic bin with soapy water and place in kitchen.

15 Minutes Before

  • Put on your party shoes and make yourself a stiff drink!

5 To 10 Minutes Before

  • Broil the Hot Ricotta Dip. Put it out with the Crab and Chive Puffs. (Place extras in a 200° F oven.)

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles