Party Planning Ideas You Can Steal from the Pros
Two experts spill their secrets—and don't worry, each is totally doable, even for people who rarely entertain.
Turn Off the Oven Before 12 p.m.
Event planner and decorator Matthew David Hopkins lives by this rule when he's getting the food ready for any kind of gathering: Switch the oven off by noon. One obvious reason is that it keeps the house cooler; and, once the party's in full swing, even if guests are mainly outdoors, some are still bound to be inside—and bodies create heat. Aside from saving you, the host, from overheating, turning that oven off is also a safeguard to force you to have most of the food prep (roasting vegetables or baking a frittata, for example) done hours before the party begins. "Unless you're a caterer, your goal should not be to serve everything hot," Hopkins says. "Instead, put out great-tasting, room-temperature—or even cold—food."