Posts Tagged hosting

The “Big Cook” is a Mommy Lifesaver

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We have all been there before.  Whether you’re eight months pregnant or have your hands full with extracurricular activities and busy kids at home, we can all benefit from a “Big Cook!”  Not only is a Big Cook a great excuse to get friends together, but by the end of the day you have a fully stocked freezer of ready to pop in the oven meals.  Personally, I know there are several days where I get busy during the day and realize around 3 o’clock that I forgot to pull something out of the freezer for dinner.  Then I’m stuck quickly de-frosting something in the microwave or calling my husband and suggesting it’s a good night to eat out.

I had the opportunity to join some girlfriends yesterday for  a Big Cook.  It was my first experience doing one, but some of the girls were well seasoned in this area.  One of the girls emailed us a grocery list a couple of weeks in advance and we were all assigned items to bring the day of the Big Cook.  We met at 10a.m. and had successfully prepared 80 meals by 4p.m.!  BBQ Pork, Tricolor Chicken and Pasta, Taco Toss, and Zippy Pork Chops were just a few among our menu.  Our day began by organizing all of our ingredients into one area.  Then we came up with a game plan as to what we were each going to be doing.  I browned 15 pounds of hamburger, while some were mixing the sauces for the burger meals and others labeling the bags the meals were being placed into with the meal title and cooking instructions.  We continued this system through the pork and chicken dishes as well.  Throughout the day, we took turns washing dishes and dividing the meals among everyone.  At the end of the day, we each had 10 different dishes and 20 meals for four people (two of each dish)!  When it was all complete and clean up was over, we sat down with our receipts and added all the expenses together and divided by how many people were taking food home.  The average cost came out to about $9 per meal.  Not too bad when you consider the fact that each meal is for four people.  That’s about $2.25 per person per meal!

The idea for The Big Cook came from three busy mom’s named Joanne Smith, Lorelei Thomas and Deanna Siemens.  They decided one day to get together and cook in mass in order to prepare meals to freeze for future evenings.  They developed fast and healthy meals that could easily be frozen for future use.  The idea took off and in 1997 they published the cookbook titled The Big Cook.  This is one of those products I saw and said to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!?”  It’s such a great idea and there is an enormous market of mothers and fathers that would benefit from this style of cooking.

My husband and I are pretty adventurous with cooking and I wouldn’t go as far to say that we will rely on this method completely, but for those days you really just don’t feel like cooking or don’t know WHAT to cook, it’s great to know you have meals ready to go in the freezer!  Another great thing about this style of cooking is it allows us to focus more time and energy on the side dishes that surround the entrée.  For me, I usually spend most of my time preparing the entrée and then add simple vegis and rice or potato with it.  With The Big Cook in my life now, I can focus more on some new side dishes.

Overall, The Big Cook is a great concept for any family.  I am already looking forward to the next event and I hope that you adopt the idea among your friends and family and give it a try.  So fun and so easy!  Happy cooking!

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How to Prepare to Host a Home Party

You know how it goes…Your girlfriend is hosting a PartyLite party and invites you to come along.  She tells you, “No pressure to buy, just come and visit and have a good time.”   Then you arrive and see all the neat products and you start imagining where you would place them in your home.   Next thing you know, you have a $200 bill to pay!  Throughout the evening, the consultant keeps mentioning the idea of hosting your own party and all the benefits you receive in return.  However, there are still questions in your mind…How much work is it going to take to host a party?  What is the process?  Are there any commitments to buy?  What are the benefits?  Is it worth my time?

After selling PartyLite candles for about 5 years, I completely understand this predicament and can empathize with each and every one of you.  After all, I got started with PartyLite after hosting my own party and realizing how easy it was to make a side income and still have fun while ‘working’.  But, I don’t want to talk about selling the product today, I’d rather share with you the benefits of hosting your own home party and walk you through some easy steps of how to prepare.

Whatever the product is, Pampered Chef, PartyLite, Scentsy, Creative Memories, the consultants all need the same basic preparation from you.  You’ll want to think about the following:

1. First and foremost, inquire what the benefits are to hosting  a party.  Then you can determine for yourself if it’s worth your time.  Most of the time you can opt to host a ‘book party’ if you don’t want to invite guests into your home, but would still like to earn the benefits of hosting.  A book party consists of basically handing out catalogs and order forms and providing a deadline to accept orders.  When all your orders are submitted, you turn them over to your consultant and you earn the benefits of your sales.  Easy as that.  Always know what the benefits are ahead of time so that you can set a goal for yourself (if you prefer) and/or prepare your order so you’re ready to take full advantage of the benefits at the time you close your show.

2. Depending on the product, determine where in your home you would like to have the consultant do her presentation and display products.  For instance, if you’re hosting a Pampered Chef party, the consultants are going to need access to your kitchen, so plan to have all of your guests near and around the kitchen area.

3. How many people do you want to invite?  We all know when you invite 30, most of the time 15 will come.  However, if you invite 30, you should always be prepared to host 30.

4. Do you want to allow your guests to bring a friend?  This will most likely increase your attendance and possibly your show sales.  In addition, you may meet a few new faces!

5. The time of year you are hosting may affect the type of products your consultant may have for sale (depending on the company).  PartyLite for instance, was very popular in the fall when all the harvest and holiday scents came out.  I found that the spring/summer sales were slow for me.  It makes sense though, living in Alaska.  Most people liked burning candles to add to that cozy winter atmosphere in the fall/winter.

6. Do you want to allow parents to bring their kids?  Depending on the time of day you decide to host your party, it may be a good idea to allow parents to bring their kids.  This is only a good idea if your house is kid-friendly and already equipped with toys and preferably a play area for the kids during the party.  If you’re house is prepared for kids already and you decide to allow kids to come with their parents, you may see a few more RSVPs from your friends.  Your guests won’t have to worry about booking a sitter and this is a bonus for every mom…or dad!  And if you decide you don’t want any kids at your party, that is fine too.  And if this is the case and you find this to pose an issue for a few people, offer them a catalog and order form and keep your show open a few extra days after your party to give those that couldn’t attend a chance to order.

Okay, so now that you have thought about the above, how are you going to prepare for your home for the party?  Here are a few quick pointers to consider when preparing:

1. Tidy Up – Don’t feel the need to go out and hire a maid or spend an entire day cleaning (unless of course, you haven’t cleaned in a month and maybe you need an entire day to clean).  Just quickly run through the house (especially the areas your guests will be occupying) and do a surface clean of each room.  To make things easy and efficient, I grab a basket and throw all my cleaning supplies into it to haul around the house with me.  I quickly dust, sweep, and shine all the surfaces.  Easy and done within an hour.

2. Seating – make sure you have enough seating for everyone.  You want your guests to feel comfortable.

3. Food – consider what kind and how much food you will serve at your party.  Serving some kind of food at your party not only provides an incentive to get people to your party (we all know this is true), it will keep people at your party longer.  You do NOT need to serve a full course meal, but consider a couple appetizers at least.  Finger foods are best at parties like these when people are moving around and shopping.  In addition, with food there needs to be a beverage.  Not everyone enjoys alcoholic beverages, so have some options.  Wine is great for the ladies, but consider having a couple choices of juice, soda and water available too.

4. Friendly Welcome – It’s easy to neglect your front porch while focusing on tidying the house and preparing food all day, but don’t forget to make sure your porch lights are on and your front door is in an inviting state.  By that I mean, put your families shoes and coats out of sight and make sure the front porch is clean and welcoming.  Common sense really, but it’s easy to forget when you’re busy with other tasks.  Your front door/porch is the first thing your guests will see, so make sure you are welcoming them with open arms.

5. Consultant Space – While setting up for your party, consider where you would like your consultant to display products.  Every home party I’ve been to and hosted, the consultant has needed a table of their own.  If you’re worried about space and are not sure you can provide a table space for your consultant, make sure and mention this to them prior to the party so they can prepare to bring one.  Most consultants will have a back-up if needed.

The next time you are offered to opportunity to host a home party, consider all of the above and you are sure to have a successful party!  Your consultant should provide you additional information about distributing invitations and when and how to close your show, but hopefully the above tips are helpful for your personal preparation.  Don’t be afraid to host.  It’s only as difficult as you make it and the benefits of hosting are WELL WORTH IT in the end.  Remember, the more sales at your party, the more FREE stuff you earn as a hostess!  Give it a try and have fun!

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