Party Helpers to the Rescue

or, “Why does an octopus make the best chef?”

…all those tentacles...

Party helpers for small and large parties. Here's how to Locate Helpers and get ideas about their tasks.

First read Party Planner, then choose your menu and know how many guests are invited. Now plan your helpers:

We're slicing these beauties for the Tomato Mozzarella Salad




Find an example that fits your party,
then plan your helpers:

 ♦ Casual Party for 12 ♦  ♦  Nice Dinner Party for 12 ♦ 

 ♦ Casual Party for 50 ♦  ♦  Nice Dinner Party for 50 ♦ 

 ♦ Casual Party for 100 ♦  ♦ Nice Dinner Party for 100 ♦ 

 ♦ Elegant Dinner Party for 100 ♦ 



Casual party for 12 guests. It's the PlayOffs! Friends are coming over to your’s from 2 pm until 6 pm to hang out, watch the game and enjoy your new place. You’re going to be serving two snacks, two appetizers and one dessert. Wine’s on the table and beer’s in the fridge.

- One helper comes around 9am to work in the kitchen, clean-up here and there, all around whatever needs to be done. This person would leave shortly after guests arrived at 2 pm.

- Another helper comes around 6 pm to help clean up and get organized. For this party, both helpers are going to be doing what you tell them to do, following your instructions and not needing any special skills. They can easily be neighborhood teens.






Nice dinner party for 12 guests. It’s Mom and Dad’s anniversary dinner, at your home, at 6 pm. No way can you spend $800 for a fancy restaurant – but this one needs to be nice. You’re serving 1 snack, 2 appetizers, 1 salad, 2 dinners, and 2 desserts. You’re planning a champagne toast, family mixes their own drinks in the kitchen, and you have a bottle of Dad’s favorite - Grand Marnier - to serve with dessert.

- One helper comes around 9am to work in the kitchen, clean-up here and there, all around whatever needs to be done. This person would leave around 5 pm. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine.

- Second helper comes around 12 noon to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave around 5 pm. This helper needs to know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures. - The third helper comes around 6 pm to help serve, clean up and get organized. They will stay through the meal until everything is cleaned up. This person also needs few special skills, someone who will be following your lead.






Casual party for 50 guests. Bill is coming home from Iraq, finally, and this time for good. You’re thinking that it will be around 50 people, but everybody wants to stop over, shake his hand, thank him for service and give him a hug - So you could have a crowd. The party’s at your house starting at 12 noon until whenever…, there’s a nice backyard if it doesn’t rain, and thank God this day has finally come! You’re planning 4 snacks, 4 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 desserts, 2 kegs of Coor’s Light, one case of wine and a Johnnie Walker Black toast at 4 pm when his commanding officer is scheduled to arrive.

- One helper comes the day before around 9am to work in the kitchen, get organized, all around whatever needs to be done. This person would leave around 5 pm and need to know their way around the kitchen, able to follow your lead and our procedures.

- Second helper comes the day of the party around 7am to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave mid-afternoon. This helper should be the same one that came yesterday.

- Third helper comes the day of the party around 8am to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave mid-afternoon. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine.

- Fourth helper comes the day of the party around 11:00 AM. This person will be helping to serve, bring out food, cleaning things up and whatever else is needed. They’ll be staying until most of the guests have gone home. Although few special skills are needed, they’ll be a lot of alcohol around, so this person should be over 21.

- Fifth helper comes the day of the party around 6pm to help clean up and stay for as long as needed. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine.







Nice dinner party for 50 guests. They did it! Somehow five volunteers managed to raise the $100,000 necessary to fully fund The Community Library. Now it’s time to honor them, the committee responsible, and celebrate! The Mayor, local business owners, major contributors, the committee and the volunteers are among the guests. You’re hoping people will mingle and really get to know each other better. Tables and chairs were brought over from the Library, you've rented chafing dishes, linens and wine glasses. Your menu includes 2 snacks, 2 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 dinners and 2 desserts, with a serve-yourself wine bar, all beginning at 7 pm at your home.

- Two helpers come the day before around 9am to work in the kitchen, get organized, all around whatever needs to be done. These people would leave around 5 pm. One helper needs few special skills, but the other should know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures.

- Third helper comes the day of the party around 11am to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave after most of the food is served. This helper needs to know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures. Ideally this helper is one of the two that came yesterday.

- Fourth helper comes the day of the party around 12 noon to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave late-afternoon. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine. Ideally this helper is one of the two that came yesterday.

- Fifth and sixth helpers come the day of the party around 6 pm. These people will be helping to serve, bring out food, cleaning things up and whatever else is needed. They’ll be staying until most of the guests have gone home. Although few special skills are needed, they’ll be a lot of alcohol around, so one of them should be over 21.

- Seventh helper comes the day of the party around 8pm to help clean up and stay for as long as needed. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine.






- Two helpers come the day before around 9am to work in the kitchen, get organized, all around whatever needs to be done. These people would leave around 5 pm. One helper needs few special skills, but the other should know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures.

- Third helper comes the day of the party around 8 am to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave late-afternoon. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine.

- Fourth helper comes the day of the party around 8 am to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave after most of the food is served. This helper needs to know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures, the knowledgable one that came yesterday.

- Fifth helper arrives with a vehicle on the day of the party around 10 am. This person is going to be transporting food and supplies from your home to your shop. Make sure this person has a cell phone or means to communicate with you throughout the day. If possible, this person might stay until 3 pm and then return around 5 pm to transport gear back to your home, and help clean up.

- Sixth and seventh helpers come the day of the party around 11 am. These people will be helping to serve, bring out food, cleaning things up and whatever else is needed. They’ll be staying at the shop until most of the guests have gone home. Although few special skills are needed, you’ll want them to have a professional appearance and great people skills.

- The eighth helper comes the day of the party around 5pm to help clean up and stay for as long as needed. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine, or it might be the driver that came earlier.




- Two helpers comes the day before around 9am to work in the kitchen, get organized, all around whatever needs to be done. These people would leave around 5 pm. One helper needs few special skills, but the other should know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures.

- Third helper comes the day of the party around 11am to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave after most of the food is served. This helper needs to know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures. This helper is the knowledegable one that came yesterday.

- Fourth helper comes the day of the party around 12 noon to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave late-afternoon. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine. Ideally this helper is one of the two that came yesterday.

- Fifth, sixth and seventh helpers comes the day of the party around 6 pm. These people will be helping to serve, bring out food, cleaning things up and whatever else is needed. They’ll be staying until most of the guests have gone home. Although few special skills are needed, one adult and two teens would be fine.

- Eighth helper comes the day of the party around 9 pm to help clean up and stay for as long as needed. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine.




Elegant dinner party for 100 guests. Ron retired, finally. All those years, and then the layoff. But he didn’t give up, he found another shop and had 12 more good, strong years. When MaryAnn got married, he insisted on the best. Your anniversary was first class. Why not go all out for him too? So the caterer said “$13,000” for the upscale meal (just the food and bar!) you dreamed of, shrimp that Ron loves and drinks on the house. You said, well..., we can’t say what you said… So you called Tent City, they’ve pitched a nice one in the backyard. You’ve rented tables, chairs, dishes, glassware, silver, linens – the works. You even found a ‘50s band that’s not half bad. You’ve planned 4 appetizers, 4 salads, 4 dinners, 2 desserts and a full bar. And now if you can only get through your speech, without crying…

One person needs to run the kitchen – manage the food. They should be present during some or all of the food prep, and there during all the serving of the food. First up is to build a plan with the kitchen helpers.

- Two helpers come two days before around 9am to work in the kitchen, get organized, all around whatever needs to be done. These people would leave around 5 pm. One helper needs few special skills, but the other should know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures.

- Two helpers (the same two that came yesterday) come one day before around 9am to work in the kitchen, get organized, all around whatever needs to be done. These people would leave around 5 pm. One helper needs few special skills, but the other should know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures.

- Four helpers come the day before (or early on the day of the party if absolutely necessary) to set up the dining room inside the tent. They should plan to arrive at the same time that the tables and chairs, place settings and linens, etc. are delivered from the rental store. They will arrange and set up the tables and chairs, spread out the linens and set the tables, place the chafing dishes and bar area, identify where the band is going to setup, run out extension cords for the band’s gear, set up lights and solve any backyard problems that might exist.

- One helper “fine tunes” the dining room, adding centerpieces, salt and peppers, candles, flowers – all the special touches that you’ve planned. This person can be one of the four who set up the dining room to begin with.

- Two helpers (the same two that came before) come the day of the party around 9am to work in the kitchen. These people would leave around 5 pm. One helper needs few special skills, but the other should know their way around the kitchen, following your directions and our recipes and procedures.

- One helper comes the day of the party around 12 pm to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave after the food is served. This helper needs few special skills, neighborhood teen is fine.

- One helper comes the day of the party around 2 pm to work in the kitchen exclusively. This person would leave after most of the food is served. This helper needs to know their way around the kitchen, following your Kitchen Manager's directions and our recipes and procedures.

- One helper works as the bar man, arriving on the day of the party around 5 pm to set up and manage a simple bar area. Carefully read our Bar and Beverages section to see the bar man’s responsibilities.

- One helper arrives at 6 pm to be an outdoor host. Especially helpful with older guests and/or bad weather, the host's job is to help people find a parking place, walk back and forth with them to their cars especially at night, greet them as they come and go, and keep a watchful eye on who shouldn’t be driving home.

- Four helpers come around 6 pm. These people will be helping to serve, bring out food, cleaning things up and whatever else is needed. They’ll be staying until most of the guests have gone home. One adult and three teens would be fine. You’ll want these four to be nicely dressed, friendly and positive. These helpers will stay to clean up and make sure things are ready for the rental company to come and pick up the next day.

- Two helpers come around 9 pm to help clean up and stay for as long as needed. These helpers need few special skills, neighborhood teens are fine.

Note: It’s going to take a few people to pull off this lovely party, however jobs can be multi-tasked. Just as long as you get through your speech OK!


For parties over 100 guests, you’ll need to increase your numbers of helpers and maybe bring in someone with professional experience. But if you follow our methods, you can do much of the larger parties yourself. Feel free to write to us and ask for advice.




How to find your helpers:

  • Family - One can only wonder how many spouses have cringed when told that their partner is planning a party... Off the couch, it’s time to work! Family first, you know who to ask and what they can do.

  • Friends - Ya gotta have friends, and they are often the best people to ask.

  • Co-volunteers - Your friends at church, the society, school, scout troop and more often share your enthusiasm for having the party in the first place. They can be a wonderful source of help for you.

  • Teens, inexperienced - The kids next door, your babysitter and her friend, ask them. But the youth group at the local church might be trying to raise money for a trip (and what you give them for their help may be tax deductible.) Groups at local schools are often interested in doing such work. Ask the Pastor or the Principal for some ideas.

  • Kitchen Manager - You might feel more comfortable knowing that someone is assigned to run the kitchen. Much of it is organization and getting things done, on time. You probably know who to ask, or maybe this is your job. Read on:

  • Kitchen Manager, Para-Pro - Check your local VFW to see if there’s an ex mess hall sergeant available. Who coordinates the fire company’s annual picnic? Who’s in charge of the church supper? Who did the fundraising spaghetti supper at the school? Locate any of these people and you’ll probably find a highly qualified, unique person who knows how to pull it all together.

  • Servers, Waiters, Waitresses - For a formal event, wedding reception or the like, you might want to have some professional staff to work in the dining room, etc. There are agencies that provide temporary help, although you can expect to pay $20 plus an hour, each. How about your favorite local restaurant? Ask the server you like so much if she/he might be available, and could they bring a few friends? Technical schools and culinary academies require training in table service. Contact them and ask who might be available. Put an ad in your local paper asking for what you need and when.

  • Chefs, amateur - Not only do people like to cook, a lot of them have past experience and training. Put up a sign at work, at school, at the local store, or an ad in your local paper. Check with local volunteer organizations and see who cooks for them.

  • Chefs, Professional - The cook at your favorite restaurant might be willing to help you out. Ask him/her the next time you go in. Doesn’t hurt to ask. Temporary help agencies will provide this person for you, but it won’t be cheap. We’ve always done better at the local technical schools and culinary academies, students who have enough training to do an event and are usually happy to pick up some extra cash. And too, run an ad in your local paper. People are out there.

    Start HERE with Party Planner. Gotta have a plan!


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