Winter is high season in Aspen, and the social schedule is at its peak during the month of December. My Dad Amen, the unofficial ambassador of Aspen, is known to host anywhere from five to ten parties over the course of a few weeks.
Pulling off such a feat is possible, and even enjoyable, because he focuses on planning and streamlining the process.
Following are five of the best tried and true organization tips I have learned from him to ensure that on party night you can keep the champagne flowing and the guests smiling:
Numbers Game the slew of part-time Aspen residents begins streaming into town for the holidays, there is a huge influx of people to see and catch up with. While it’s tempting to throw one big bash for everyone, keeping the atmosphere intimate takes priority. My Dad limits his guest list to a maximum of 24, ensuring that he will not only get to greet everyone but also enjoy conversations with them. Pepper and I try to keep it at 8 in Aspen and 8-10 at Lotus Ridge in Kauai but only because we are limited by space.
Size Matters Small-ish tables are a key element of a cozy party. A magic number of guests per table is eight. Not too many for a whole-table conversation, but enough to keep the dinner discussions lively. See Perfect Party Mix for tips on how to plan seating arrangements.
Party Trifecta Consider throwing several parties in a row— with only a day at most between them. It’s bold and requires advance planning, but the benefits are plenty. The food preparation can be consolidated, the flower arrangements will last, and the dishes can be cleaned and put right back on the table.
One Perfect Menu Planning one outstanding menu is the single-most important strategy for pulling off multiple soirées in a short span of time. The host admittedly might get a little tired of coq au vin after the fourth round, but guests will never know that you’ve served the same dish from one night to the next. One menu makes everything easier from grocery shopping, to food preparation to selecting the appropriate dishes and serving pieces.
Mix and Match Another bonus to using several tables of eight rather than one or two large tables of 12 or more is that you don’t need to have so many matching dishes and glasses. This allows you the freedom to set each table with its own theme and tableware. Showcasing several different tablescapes is a unique way to add overall visual interest to your party. It’s easy to unify the tables by using centerpieces that contain the same flowers and decorative elements even when they are not the same size or in the same containers.
Now go pour yourself a glass of wine, grab a pencil and paper and make a plan!