Thanksgiving – how I plan an event part one

Once again it’s been a while between posts, but it definitely has not been long between baking/party projects.My current project is planning a Thanksgiving lunch for my Sydney family and some of my friends. Yes, I am in Australia and yes, Thanksgiving is an American holiday. But, after spending quite a bit of time in North America on and off over the last six or so years, Thanksgiving is a bit of a special holiday to me. I used to just force my family to celebrate it with me, and last year I fed my co-workers a pumpkin pie, but this year, I’m hosting a proper little luncheon.

This year it’s also about actually thanking some of the people who have made my life easier in the 20 months that I have lived in Sydney. So, I’m thanking them in one of the best ways I know how; by feeding them.

Thanksgiving is on Thursday, but of course, it’s not a holiday here, so my lunch will be this coming Sunday. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to show you my process for event planning.

Everything I plan starts with a little germ of an idea that grows into something bigger. Anything can spark it; a theme, a colour, a suggestion from a friend. For Thanksgiving it was Kim at The TomKat Studio giving away a free Thanksgiving printable collection on her blog.I love the idea of building my luncheon around these printables, so I started planning a brown and white colour scheme. The other thing I wanted to plan around was my new ice-cream machine! I was given it for my 30th Birthday and really wanted to make some yummy homemade ice-creams for our dessert.

Pinterest is also somewhere I start out when I’m forming ideas. I start a board and start searching for the theme. It’s a great way of saving recipes. My Thanksgiving board is here: http://pinterest.com/littleredwrites/thanksgiving/ 

All my projects go into my green (Choc Mint!) party-planning notebook.

Choc Mint Notebook
The Choc Mint Notebook!

I am a list maker, so I jot lists of menu ideas, erase them, add them in again and so on. Usually, as soon as I start to get a party idea I will start checking out my local cake decorating supply shops, the gorgeous party supply shops I love like The Little Big Company (my current favourite store — they have their store split into different ways to shop, I  shopped by colour for this event) and Inviteme.com.au the $2 shops and have an excursion to the big Discount Party Warehouse at Auburn.

List making
List making

Once I’ve picked up a few things and have an idea of what’s out there, I start sketching table layouts (though, I am not an artist and only I can interpret my scrawls) and working out  what crockery and glassware I already owned that I could use on the table.

My attempt at sketching
My attempt at sketching out my table

My lists and layouts are always changing, right up until the day. Mostly, this is because I start out with what I call “the whole hog” — that is, I always start out wanting 75 different desserts, a roast turkey with 16 sides, an entree, a tableful of nibblies and starters and every decoration I’ve seen in every store that matches my theme. But usually my wallet protests and I also realise that I work a full time job, a casual job and freelance write on top of the baking, so I cut the list down based on how much time I have and how much money I want to spend. Once you set a budget and time constraints, it becomes obvious what needs to be dropped. I’ll write my almost final menu, my grocery list (usually split into two or three shops so I can split the costs throughout pay cycles) and my “other” shopping list (craft supplies, new crockery, balloons etc)

Tomorrow, I’ll post about final menus and dividing the cooking out over time (AKA, how to have approximately 3 jobs and still pull off a completely home-cooked meal).

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