Party Time! Happy Birthday Jim!

Although Jim's actual birthday isn't until mid-February, we celebrated on Saturday night.  Really celebrated.  Probably a little more than we should have.  Yesterday was long.  But, Jim is turning 40 so there was good reason.  I think the party helped ease the transition.  hahaha.

We had about 70 revelers at our house which made for a great time.  Amazingly the kids slept through pretty much the whole thing!  We used Paperless Post this year after having loads of problems with Evite this year.  I was so happy even if it wasn't free - still more reasonable than sending an invitation.

We hired a caterer with serving staff for the first time and let me tell you - it makes a WORLD of difference.  It was a little bit hard to give up control of the party for about the first 15 minutes but then I realized I could actually enjoy my own party.  I never once worried about whether people had enough drinks.  The only issue was that we ran out of ice but we had some great neighbors who were willing to fill up some bags of ice at their houses and bring it over.  Gotta love your neighbors!
 The food was amazing.  Here's a sampling - mozzarella and tomato on pesto crostini. 
 And the birthday cake.

We generally have one big adult cocktail party every January.  We used to do a big Christmas party but finally decided that December was too complicated for everyone.  So, it became a January party a few years ago and I don't think we'll go back. This year we combined the winter cocktail party with Jim's birthday for double the fun!

Here are a few things that we generally do to prepare for a big party besides the usual stuff like clean the bathrooms:
  • Move any furniture which may be a tripping hazard or which might get in the way of traffic patterns.  This includes small foot stools, small side tables, etc.  
  • Eliminate as many chairs as possible - you want people walking around and mingling, not sitting.  Put the dining room chairs in the basement so the dining room is completely clear for drinks and food.
  • Create an area for coats if it's a winter party.  We use the garment racks which also come in handy our annual yard sale.  This year we put them in our basement playroom which worked perfectly.
  • Set up a bar area but also a satellite bar for wine and maybe a small cooler of beer.  We set up the bar in the dining room but people are always welcome to grab a beer from the fridge in the kitchen as well.  We set up a small wine bar in the living room as well.  
  • Put as many toys as possible out of sight.  This is particularly important for an adults only party which this one most definitely was. 
  • Turn off all overhead lights and turn on a few lamps.  Dim the chandeliers.  Much more festive.
  • Lock up the dog so no one has to worry about their food being stolen when they go for another cocktail.
  • Make punch and serve it from a punch bowl.  This certainly adds to the festive nature of the party.  This year's recipe is here.
  • Clear kitchen counters as much as possible.  I put our toaster and coffee pot away this year as well as all of the usual clutter.  You'll need the space no matter how big your kitchen is (unless you are RHBH Lisa Vanderpump).
  • Set up a recycling area.  You'll probably need more recycling space than trash.  No matter what the weather, we usually put a big bin outside the back door, and then smaller one somewhere near the bar.  Fortunately our recycling does not have to be separated and all plastics are recyclable so ours was easy to do.
What are your party tips?  Any big parties coming up?

Happy Birthday Honey!