Step 1: Find your Inspiration
For me it was the purple glasses, but for you it could be anything. A fun plate that you own, fancy napkins you just bought, a new gadget you'd like to try out, or maybe even one of your favorite teas. Whatever it may be, I've always found it to be more fun to plan a party when you can keep your inspiration in mind.
Also, then it's easier to Pinterest it up for additional inspiration.
Step 2: Create the Guest List
Think about your theme. Which of your friends would enjoy your theme? If the theme of your party is Pokemon, that may draw a very different crowd than fancy cheeses, 90s television, or Shakespeare novels.
I decided to keep my guest list small in order to have fun with setting the table. (My table will fit eight at a maximum.) I chose to invite an array of people who didn't know each other to start to introduce different friend groups. I felt okay about this for two reasons. First, it's easier for people to get to know each other in small groups. Second, it's easier to find something that the whole group has in common with fewer people.
Also, cooking for large groups isn't always the easiest to coordinate, so start with a group the size you can handle and then work your way up from there!
Step 3: Choose the Menu
Believe it or not, I chose the beverages first. We had two different types of iced tea: Plum Deluxe's Royale Purple Tea from Kenya and their Afternoon "High Tea" White Tea. Why is it called Purple Tea? When you add a lemon to it, it turns a hint of purple, which was very cool. Also, iced tea was way easier to make than I thought it was. (You can follow these simple Plum Deluxe directions -- with a video included!) Simple syrup was also easier to make than I expected.
I chose to make a specialty cocktail to hand people as they walked in the door. I used the first recipe from Vicki at Vinocity Events' list called Champagne frappe a la glace. It's a light lemon and champagne slushi drink, perfect to kick off a brunch.
It took me a while to choose the food. Once I remembered how small the group was, I realized the perfect option was waffles. They're easy to make, everybody loves them, I was able to make four at a time, and you can top them with anything. We added strawberries and whipped cream! (That said, in my house growing up, waffles and ice cream was an absolutely acceptable thing to do.)
For my savory dish, I chose to make my mom's egg strata. It's super easy, simple, and delicious; you just need to make sure you read the recipe ahead of time to start the night before!
And then for dessert (yes, dessert after all of that), I made my mother's "pink and white cake," which is really an anise-flavored, dual-color cake. It was the most royal dessert I could think of. I also put out my favorite chocolate chip cookies, which have peanut butter and rice krispies inside.
Step 4: Find the Decor
For the decor I knew I needed purple embellishments, but other than that I wanted to keep it simple with white and silver. My favorite find was a two-tiered tea tray from Marshalls, which was perfect to serve the pink and white cake. My best find was a set of glass plates from Philly Aids Thrift that kept it classy without seeming stuffy. They were only $1 each! The find that made the table (for me) was the $5 white linen table runner from Ikea. And last, but not least, a little greenery always seems to do a table good.
Step 5: Set Up for the Party
The thrill of the setup is one of the things that keeps me going back to party planning. All you need to do is think about the logistics. What needs to be done first, what needs to be done next, and when does each step need to be completed. My top four setup tips are:
1. Read the recipes the night before to find out what needs to be done ahead of time. In this case the egg strata and iced tea needed to sit in the fridge overnight before baking/serving.2. Set the table the night before. Even if you can't position everything where it needs to be, it's so much easier to put the napkins, glasses, and plates on the table to arrange them the next morning. This also leaves time for you to run around and find the finishing touches to add a little pop. In my case, it was the purple squares I cut from my scrapbooking paper collection and silver ribbon I had laying around.3. Put out all the serving plates you need the morning of the event to have a reminder about what you are missing if there is an empty plate on your table. This was how I remembered to put out all of the tea accouterments: Plum Deluxe's Deluxe Tea Sugar, sugar rock cubes I found in the Asian section of the grocery store, and saffron sugar I bought at a Persian store in Chicago. I also placed out lemons and simple syrup. Just to make sure people had variety (and could turn their tea purple.)4. Make as many things ahead of time as possible. For example, even though I wasn't making the waffles until people arrived, I had the batter ready to go when they walked in the door.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Sometimes this is the hardest part. Once your friends arrive, make sure everybody has a drink in their hand, make sure everybody gets a plate of food, and then sit down. Talk to your guests. See how their days are going. Enjoy! You deserve it.