Planning a party takes a lot of preparation. There is meal planning, decorations, guests lists, entertainment and more.

To fully enjoy the time you have with your guests it is also important to time your meal. Timing is important for a number of reasons.

#1 To maximize the time you spend with your guests

To minimize the time you spend in your kitchen

#3 Reduce stress by knowing when to serve your meal

Of course a lot of factors play in the timing of your meal. Things like how long the meal takes to prepare, how much you an do ahead of time, how many guests you have, who is serving the meal (will you hire servers or do it yourself) and when is the optimum time to serve guests.

How long will the meal take to prepare? If your meal takes an hour to prepare and then another hour to cook, or a combination of times depending on what you are serving, then you need to take that into consideration when deciding what time your guests should arrive, length of time between appetizers and the main course and of course when the party is scheduled to end.

How much can you do ahead of time? If you can prepare the majority of the meal ahead of time and heat it and serve that gives you much more time with your guests. On the other hand if you choose a complicated meal that requires you to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then you need to take that into consideration when its time to serve the meal.

Appetizers should be ready to serve as guests arrive.

How to Avoid Timing Problems

If you’re making a dish you have never tried, I suggest you do a dry run of the meal. That means serve it to your family first.  This way you can see how long it takes and if its a “hit.” Family will be the first to tell you if it is good or not, and often times guests will not.

The KEY to timing is proper planning and research…

Choose the dishes you’ll be making and know the timing for both preparation and cooking time. Once you know that, then it’s all a matter of scheduling!

  • Another way to ensure everything is served hot, and together is your oven and/or microwave. Use your oven’s warmer to keep things warm. Use your microwave to reheat your side dishes.This also helps free up your burners when one dish is done and another needs to be cooked.This may sound daunting to the beginner, but trust me – it’s not. It’s easy if you choose the right dinner to prepare.
  • Write it down. Make lists of what is being served, prep time and cooking time. If you create a chart it will be easier to have a visual explanation of how long everything will take.

Be sure to include extra time for any unforeseen challenges, interruptions or last minute changes.

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