Party planning should be fun and easy, so get things done in 15 minutes or less.

The 15-Minute Party Planner's blog breaks down basic party-planning tasks into simple actions that take 15 minutes or less. We're not here to make you the next Martha, we're here to help you be crafty quickly!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Electronic invites save time and money!

Rather than taking the time to send written invitations for your next party, save time, money, and paper by sending electronic invitations. Here are a few of the easiest and quickest invites to send over the Web.

Evite is one of the original sites for electronic invitations. With themed invites for everything from March Madness and Twilight parties to fundraisers and professional events, Evite has customizable content that allows users to poll guests for event start times and enables hosts to track what food and beverages guests will be bringing to the party. The site will also track RSVPs and sends out reminders before your event.

Offering party planning services as well as electronic invitations, touts cool features like a "Date Decider" option which allows hosts to poll guests about the best days for a party, and cute electronic invites that look like real cards. The site also lists wacky holidays, providing potential hosts with dozens of reasons to party.

Featuring beautiful photographs on its invitations, allows hosts to send invites via e-mail, social networking sites, and even personalized event web pages, all for free. For a fee, Pingg will send paper copies of the invites you design, saving valuable time that would be spent addressing and stuffing envelopes.

Specializing in adorable electronic announcements and save the date notices, allows users to customize content with their own photos and embellishments. Like Pingg, PurpleTrail also allows users to send paper versions of their electronic invitations, making it a wonderful mixed-media option for party planners.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Buying booze: easy drink calculations

Figuring out how much food and drink to buy for a party is part art and part science. For the science bit, check out the industry standards below:

At a regular party (we're not talking frat parties and keggers, here), assume that your guests will have two drinks during your party's first hour and then a drink per person per hour.

If, for instance, you're expecting 20 guests at a four-hour party, you'll need about 100 servings of alcohol. Here's the breakdown:
  • 20 guests x 2 drinks (for the first hour) = 40 drinks
  • 20 guests x 1 drink (for each hour following the first) x 3 hours (party's remaining time)= 60 drinks
  • Total drinks = 100
And what's even easier than doing the math yourself? Typing the number of guests you expect and the length of the party into a handy drink calculator like this one from Evite or That's The Spirit! This is the 15-Minute Party Planner, after all; we don't want anything to take longer than it has to.

Once you've got the booze figured out, you'll also want to ensure that you have enough food to keep people from getting too buzzed. Click the links to ensure responsible drinking and minimize drunken guests at your next party and for tips on stocking the perfect home bar.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fake out with takeout: How to dress up dishes in 15 minutes or less

Cooking a meal from scratch can take hours. Doctoring takeout with a few homemade touches, however, takes mere minutes, and allows you to spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen.

Here are some ideas that will help you put a personal touch on takeout in fifteen minutes or less.

  • Have cheese pizzas delivered to your house half-baked. When they arrive, top them with the veggies or meats of your choice and pop them into your own oven at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. This saves time and money on toppings! Even easier? Have fully-cooked pizzas delivered uncut, then cut them yourself using fancy designs and top slices with fresh herbs or grated Parmesan cheese.

  • Need some fancy appetizers? Plan ahead by buying large-leaf lettuce, then order your favorite stir-fried rice and stuff the lettuce leaves with spoonfuls of rice. Using a pretty cup-like lettuce like romaine or radicchio? Leave the leaf open and filled with the rice. Using a flatter kind of lettuce like iceberg or butter lettuce? Wrap the rice inside and stick with a toothpick to hold it together. Serve with soy sauce.

  • Buy a party-size sandwich (we call them "grinders" in my neck of the woods, but "subs", "hogies", "heroes", and a number of other terms mean the same thing). Slice the sandwich into individual servings, poke a fancy toothpick into each serving (to hold it together), and serve with sides of fresh veggies and a variety of spreads. You can even spruce up mayonnaise by adding herbs or spices; try a tarragon or smokey chipotle mayo just by stirring in the spices.|

  • Order finger-foods like egg rolls, crab rangoon, beef teriyaki, and fried wontons from a local Chinese restaurant, then simply arrange in pretty bowls (ditch the takeout containers!) and serve with a variety of dipping sauces.

  • Everything looks gourmet in a bread bowl. Pick up a few round loaves of bread at the bakery or grocery store and cut a "bowl" into the bread. You can fill bread bowls with store-bought dip or hummus and present them with chunks of bread or veggies for an appetizer. You can also buy sandwich rolls, hollow out the middles, and fill them with a local restaurant's best soup or chowder.

  • Serve a store-bought cake on fancy plates with sliced fruit, whipped cream, chopped nuts, or small candies. Better yet? Cut the cake with a round cookie cutter and stack rounds of cake and layers of fruit into parfait glasses, garnishing with toppings.
Have some ideas of your own? Share them with readers in the comments.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Welcome to the 15-Minute Party Planner blog!

Anything you need to do to prep for a party can be organized and implemented in 15 minutes or less. Future posts on this blog will cover everything from 60-second centerpieces to invitation etiquette to cleaning your house before a party. Party planning can be easy and stress-free if you follow the 15-Minute Method!

I'll be your host on this fearless journey into super-simple party planning. As a fan of parties for all occasions, I have plenty of hands-on experience hosting and planning parties and am eager to share that knowledge with you. I also have the technical background to stay organized and on-budget, thanks to a degree in Meeting and Event Management.

Welcome aboard!

~Danielle E. Brown
15-Minute Party Planner