Day 16. Shop, Make a List: Learn to Improvise

When it’s time to shop for a party, make a list of what you need to buy.

– Stock up on little notebooks at the Dollar Store or start a list on scrap paper
– Go through your recipes and write out what you need to buy
– Keep the list out on the counter where it’s accessible
– Make sure and take the list to the store with you

One thing I’ve done when entertaining is try to only go to the store once for each event, so it pays to be organized. I just don’t have time to be running from store to store. Another little tip is that if I don’t have something, I try to improvise.

With the internet now, did you know that you can Google what you are trying to improvise? I find so many great tips through “Google” when I’m short or run out or I just don’t have a certain food item.

How are you with improvising? And do you find that making a list before a party helps you to stay on task and organized?

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  1. “List” is my middle name, I think!- they just make me happy! In fact, I had so many lists that I needed to keep track of on a long term basis, I had to create a binder. As for planning, I plan the menu with recipes/book nearby and list all I need and like to have it in advance. Here, I have to plan extra early if I’m wanting to do an American meal because I often can’t find things on the economy so I’ll have to have someone send it to me, order it, or make a special trip to the embassy to get what I need. And I find myself improvising all of the time- thank goodness for the internet!

  2. I can’t count how many times I’ve taken the time to make a list only to leave it on the counter. “Honey, I’m at Publix, can you read me my list.” Has been said more than once in my lifetime. LOL!
    I’m actually very good at improvising. I’ve learned to make do many a times. I think that comes the more you entertain. The more you do it the more at ease you are about it. I remember my very first Christmas party. I was a wreck and I’m not sure I even remembered having any fun, I was to worried about the details, but that was 15 years ago so I’m a bit better now. LOL!
    Have a fabulous day my friend.

  3. I am a list maker. I will have the menu made weeks before the event. I print out all the recipes (or copy them if they are from a cookbook and make a shopping list. I double check the shopping list the day I’m going shopping in case someone has taken an item I need. I then decide what dishes can be prepped or made a head of time and what dishes have to be made the day of the event. I then create a time line of when I have to shop, when I have to start making dishes ending with a schedule for the day of the event when I have to start each dish. Thanksgiving involves so many dishes and I want everything to be done at the same time, so the time line is extremely helpful. I have never forgotten to put something in the oven and the time line reduces a lot of stress because I don’t worry that I am forgetting anything.


    Shop for non-perishable ingredients

    Put turkey in fridge to thaw (if using a 20 lb bird, start on Friday)

    Shop for fresh ingredients

    Make pies, cake,

    Thaw cranberry relish or make your own
    Thaw Cool Whip
    Make potatoes
    Cut up fresh vegetables
    Make dinner rolls
    Make taffy apple salad
    Make sweet potato casserole
    Cut up cheese and sausage
    Chill drinks
    Bring out dinner ware

    6 am bring to room temperature, potatoes, sweet potatoes, take out turkey
    8 am make stuffing
    9 am stuff turkey and bake (16 lb stuffed turkey cooks 3hrs at 350°, 20 lb takes 3 ½ hrs if using a cooking bag, turkey rests 20 min before slicing), make cheesy cauliflower
    9:30 am heat potatoes in crock-pot, put cauliflower in crock pot
    11:30 am make corn casserole
    11:45 am put sweet potatoes & extra stuffing in the oven, cook green beans
    12 noon bring out appetizers and drinks, sprinkle topping on cauliflower, take out turkey and tent it with foil
    12:15 pm start coffee, check corn casserole, make gravy
    12:20 pm take side dishes out of the oven, warm rolls
    12:25 pm carve bird
    12:30 pm toss taffy apple salad

  4. I am not the best at improvising and YES I am the one that runs back and forth to the store. GRRR love all your ideas…

  5. That is the ONLY way I can plan a party. There always the spur-of-the-moment parties where we all bring what we have, but the ones that are planned for sure. I keep a binder of almost all of the parties/baby showers i have done along with invites and my grocery list, so there is a lot less work. I figure if a party went awesome and everybody loved everything, why change the whole thing. I will usually tweek it a bit as far as drinks or dessert, but since I have quite a few to choose from, it makes it a SNAP!

  6. I like to have things planned out too! I decide what to have, look through the cupboards and see what I have on hand and what I need to buy. I make my grocery list (which stores I need to get what at), then purchase everything a few days in advance at least. When I find I don’t have something, or don’t have enough I try to improvise (I’ve used google many times), or I call my MIL!

  7. Making a list really helps, but I try to stay open minded to what looks good at the market and to watch the sales. Being flexible about those points really helps too! After the shopping is done, I find it helpful to pull out my plates and service pieces so that every food item has what it needs. I set the table the day before and stack platters, bowls, gravy boats, etc. in the kitchen with whatever serving piece they need. This helps when getting a large meal out to the dining room or deck quickly. No last minute serches for another ladle or serving spoon! I also keep ideas for menues handy in my favorite cookbooks so I’m never stumped for ideas.

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  9. Bobbie’s timeline is great, I do that too especially for holidays and parties. I make TONS of lists, even lists of what I am going to try to accomplish on any given day:) I am a little OCD I think:):)

  10. Couldn’t do it without my lists!!

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  12. It’s truly an honor to run across informational content like this. You are clearly knowledgeable on this topic and you have unique views to share.

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