10 October 2012
Planning the Perfect Party: Tips From Two Nevada Party Experts

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner, and party planners are already thinking about everything from the annual office bash to a family reunion over the traditional turkey dinner.

If your holiday plans include a get-together, now’s the time to get together a plan for the perfect party – and better still, a party you can enjoy with your guests.

Planning for Party Perfection

Debbie Branby knows how to party. As President of The Cheese Board and Wine Seller – one of Reno’s most popular event planners and caterers –Branby has planned hundreds of events. Her advice?

“Have a great attitude. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. The best way to have fun at your own party is to plan ahead – everything from menu to beverages to décor and music,” she explains. “Leaving things to the last minute makes any host or hostess a cranky boy or girl.”

The Special Events Director at Las Vegas’ Panevino Ristorante, Diana Takai, agrees. “Planning is the key, setting the guest list and planning the meal ahead of time.”  Her motto? “Plan, prepare and execute your picture-perfect event.”

Here is further advice from these two catering experts:

Putting Together Your Party Plans

  • Start with the guest list.  If it’s an office bash, the guest list is easy. If it’s an intimate gathering of friends, developing the list of attendees can be more difficult. But this is the place to start.  Knowing in advance who will be there (and how many) is essential to the rest of your plans.
  • Next, design your menu.  Consider any special dietary needs of guests. Include some vegetarian and wheat-free items to round out your menu.  Don’t plan on making a lot of labor-intensive food items, especially those that will need last-minute attention.


  • Make your grocery list at least a week in advance of the event, when you’re still (relatively) relaxed. Then, check your list twice to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
  • Check for good sale items in the newspaper.  Stores usually put traditional favorites on sale the week before holiday cooking gets underway.
  • Do as much as possible ahead of time – the day before if possible. Rearrange furniture so everyone has a place to sit and to encourage conversation.
  • For larger events, serve platters of food. They’re colorful, tasty and can be made ahead of time. At home, also prepare ahead of your family meal. You can make some items, like sweet potatoes, the day before. Keep them in the fridge and warm them up right before dinner.
  • Have fun along with your guests. Be relaxed.  Have a glass of wine before guests arrive.


  • Provide a signature cocktail, like a martini, or a signature drink in a punch bowl.
  • Keep it simple. People will drink what you have available, so don’t offer a full bar if you’re watching costs.
  • Every party should have several non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers, and for those who simply don’t imbibe.
  • If you have more than 30 guests, provide a bartender for your gathering.


  • If it’s an office party, consider holding the event at a restaurant or somewhere other than the office itself. Let’s face it, the office is still the office, even if it’s festooned with bright holiday decorations.
  • For family gatherings, get the whole family involved. Ask the kids to make a centerpiece to save some money on a floral arrangement, and ask your spouse to pitch in with some of the cooking and decoration chores. In the case of family gatherings, two cooks are better than one, and you’ll have more time to enjoy visiting family.
  • Keep it simple at home. A nicely set table and traditional fixings create a postcard picture of holiday spirit.
  • For large events, use plastic or paper plates and napkins that are throw-away and recyclable. A good suggestion, especially if you’re on the clean-up committee.

If you really want to keep things simple, and enjoy the party as much as your guests, consider having the event catered, or holding this year’s holiday get-together at a restaurant. It can relieve the stress and make the holidays that much more festive.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.


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