Preparing a party at home can be a challenge for some people: decorating the house, organizing everything, decorating the table, choosing the food. An endless number of decisions that can make you give up. Do not do that, if your house has adequate space for the number of guests, do not give up, create an unforgettable party, because nothing shows more the love we have for others than the dedication we put in the choice of all the details, from food to decoration. Follow my tips and you’ll see that everything will be easier.
1 – Depending on the characteristics of the house and the time of year, we must decide where in the house the meal will be served. Will it be outside or inside? Starting in May with the arrival of communions and christenings, those who have an outside space can take advantage of it. We have celebrated several parties from profession of faith, summer birthdays and even popular saints in the garden and it is excellent for everyone. It is practical and everyone enjoys the garden and the outdoor seating area, from children to the elderly.
As I mentioned above, we should think about the number of people we are going to invite and the space we have available. This determines right from the start if we’re going to do a seated dinner/lunch or if we’re going to opt for the floating alternative. Both can be great, but naturally it has an impact on the other choices.
Where to start?
2 – The simplest is to choose a theme and/or a colour palette. If it is a communion the theme is defined from the start. Choosing the base colours will help a lot to maintain consistency between everything and not disperse. I like to ask my daughters what their preferences are. The Mafalda always chooses pink because she loves, but Matilde preferred blue and Leonor’s Confirmation was with lilac and green.
3 – Invite people. I know it sounds basic, but it’s crucial to do it early on so you know exactly how many people you’ll have at the party. How will you invite them? Of course it depends on whether the party is a little more formal or not. There are companies that make very nice invitations for communions and christenings, see for example Malaquite Illustrations and Tufi’s atelier , both with very cute and delicate things.
4 – Choose the food. Whether you make it at home or order out, prepare in advance. A buffet requires a dish that is easy to eat standing up, so take that into consideration. Think about canapés, delicate finger food always makes beautiful and refined tables and are easy to eat while socializing. There are lots of websites with inspirations for making easy things at home. I’ve used several of the ideas I’ve seen here in previous parties, they are easy to make and quite decorative https://www.brit.co/tiny-finger-foods-toothpick-recipes/), further, catering companies always have interesting suggestions. If you’re from Porto (and surroundings) you can always check Grandes Encontros catering and Silva Carvalho catering, they both have interesting and practical options. The company that served Mafaldinha’s communion was Grande Encontros and everything was very good.
5 – Use help. For me it is essential to have someone to help at these parties. Even if the catering service just delivers the food, having someone to lift the dishes and keep the kitchen organized is crucial for my mental sanity and to enjoy the party. Catering companies also offer this service if you don’t have any contacts. I believe that Interdomicílio can also help you find someone. Don’t hesitate to hire someone, after the guests arrive you can enjoy it, otherwise it’s not a party it’s a job.
6 – The table decoration is another aspect that often worries you. I don’t have the same plates for everyone, nor the same chairs, nor cutlery, what should I do? My question is: what is the problem? Nobody has to have 20 of the same chairs, our house is not a restaurant. My suggestion is to mix sets of dishes, which is within the colour palette. You can combine services that you have or with your mother/sister/friend’s service. If you can use a neutral base plate, it helps a lot and then mixing the entrée/dessert plates is really cute. You can even alternate one plate of each colour. The interesting thing is not to put all the same ones on one side and the different ones on the other side, so it wouldn’t give the idea that the table is divided. Mix the patterns or colours, interspersing them on the table. In the case of this last party we used a basic white and grey service, which gave me a neutral base for the table. What I didn’t have in enough quantity: cutlery and cloth napkins. What did I do? I interspersed the pink napkins with the taupe ones, used the same placemats and asked my sister for cutlery. It became harmonious anyway, because the colour palette used in the decoration was consistent.
If you still prefer everything the same, catering companies hire everything you need from tables, chairs, cutlery… Ah, yes, the towels. Once again, in these cases white never fails. A linen embroidered tablecloth always makes a special table and elegant.
7 – Following on from what I said before I suggest that, in the case of seated meals, mark the places. When I do a relaxed party and don’t make markers I always regret not having done so. I don’t like that phase where everyone’s in front of the table without knowing where they’re going to sit. This way nobody has any doubts, and everything flows. There are several ways of doing it and there are even cards already on sale in good stationery shops. In the case of communions, I like to paint the place cards according to the chosen theme, in this case I used pink flowers, because all the decorative elements had that principle, so I painted some flower crowns that I decorated with pink. You can use ribbons, I’ve used leaves and wrote the names on the leaves themselves… I don’t know. The imagination is the limit.
8 – No table is complete without flowers. If you have skill, taste and time you can make your own arrangements, otherwise go to your favourite florist and explain your idea. Here at home both situations have already occurred. I’ve already made the arrangements and ordered from the florist. It depends on the time you have available, the time of year and what you’re trying to achieve. As I have a lot of Hydrangeas, from spring on, and it’s a flower I love, I really like to use them in arrangements. This time I decided I wanted to see all the flower decoration along the table, which was quite a long one. For that, I needed help, as I didn’t have enough vases to do it. In Porto there are some florists whose work I love. This time it was Bloom who did the arrangements and, in case you need vases, for me it’s the right option. Isabel Castro Freitas also does very delicate work and Flores de Joaquim Santos is another of my favourite florists. One note, after choosing the flowers for the table, don’t forget to buy some more to decorate other vases around the house and even for the cake table. Everything matches beautifully.
9 – Since we are talking about cake tables, in the case of communions (or profession of faith) it can be something quite simple. I usually choose, in addition to the communion cake, the cakepops and, in some cases, some cookies, which make a beautiful decorative effect. This time the responsible was Ju from Love My Party by Ju, but I also love the Vegan cakes from Angela Vilhena – Vegan Baker. You can include some brigadeiros which the kids usually love. Use a pretty table or cover it with a special tablecloth. I used this tablecloth that is over 40 years old, it was used at my christening and as well as being beautiful it has a special meaning. Don’t forget to explain to the cake designer the colour palette and the general look of the party, decorate the cake table with floral arrangements that match the party table.
10 – Another aspect to bear in mind is the use of side tables. A table where you can put the canapés, if it doesn’t make sense for you to always have someone serving, can later be used to place the desserts. A side table with drinks is also usually helpful. You can place frapés with the various drinks in the cold and makes everything more practical. If it’s a flyer meal, an area only with crockery and cutlery is very practical and for me a must have.
11 – House decoration is something I always consider these days. Check the towels, candles and flowers in the bathrooms, flower arrangements that are consistent with those on the party table and the living area. If the party is indoors, the living area is already created in the room itself. When it is outside, this is not always the case. Do not forget that throughout the day the party has several breaks and guests like to feel comfortable. If you have a garden, create a living area as if it were a living room, but with decoration suitable for outdoors, using fabrics, outdoor furniture and even a carpet that is appropriate not forgetting the plants. Guests will feel happy and will have a space to relax, which always feels good.
12 – The details. Throughout this post I’ve talked about several details to take into account either in the decoration of the house, in the decoration of the table and cake, in the details in the bathroom and even in the place markers. All these aspects are important to consider and create a special party. In the case of a communion the Blessings (I’ve used the one from Malaquite and I really liked it) are something to consider and can then make connection with other things, for example, with a detail that I’ve included in the parties and that, even being very simple, is something that stays forever: the dedication book. In the last few years I’ve been painting the cover of the books, according to the tones used in the parties. In this case I made the cover to match the place markers. I think it’s a very beautiful idea and it makes a nice souvenir. If you’re not good at painting, or don’t feel like it, there are lots of images online that you can use for free (check Canva, for example). You can even print them and ask the child to write a thank you card to the guests. I’ve done it too and it’s a lovely idea.
After all, don’t forget: parties are meant to be lived with family and friends and for everyone to be in a good mood. There’s no need to be afraid of hosting at home, all you need is a little organisation and a taste for what you do. So, have fun and enjoy yourselves. Have a nice return to the parties, because we missed them.
BE HAPPY, BE PERFECT!