Two Weeks Before the Party: Finalize the Guest List
About two weeks out, confirm the guest list and collect everyone’s soup recipe (to account for any duplicates). Once the number of guests is finalized, inform everyone of how much soup they need to make (and ask someone to make a different recipe if it’s the same as someone else’s). Also plan your own soup recipe, plus any appetizers or beverages to have at the party.
One Week Before the Party: Shop for Groceries and Supplies
One week before the party is the perfect time to gather any groceries needed for your soup as well as for the snacks and drinks for the party. This is also a great time to stock up on bowls, spoons, napkins, cups, etc.—anything needed for guests to enjoy plenty of soup and appetizers. Consider also purchasing a few to-go soup containers and labels for guests to take with them, in case someone forgets to bring their own.
If you have the time and energy, also consider printing out copies of everyone’s soup recipes for guests to take home with them. Ask your invitees to send you the ingredients and instructions or a link to the recipe online ahead of time.
Two Days Before the Party: Make Your Soup
Now is the perfect time to make one big batch of your soup recipe—or several batches over the course of two days, if that works best for you. If you can make the soup earlier than a couple of days before the party, freeze it portioned into quart-size (or larger) freezer-friendly containers. Otherwise, refrigerate the soup in to-go containers in preparation for the party.
One Day Before the Party: Prep the Party Space
This is a casual affair: No need to decorate or make anything elaborate. Instead, focus on setting a natural, accessible gathering space for guests to come together to sample soups and munch on snacks. Prepare stations: One with bowls/jars and spoons for soups, one with appetizers and beverages (with plates, napkins and cups) and one with extra to-go containers, labels and pens or markers.
Now’s a good time to take inventory of how many pots you have to cook everyone’s sample soup—this way, you know ahead of time if you’re able to make multiple soups at a time, or if you’ll need to heat them in batches at the party.
Day of the Party: Make the Appetizers and Beverages
With your space and soup prepped, all that’s left to do is make the snacks and drinks for the party! Keep a mental note of bake and cool times, and work your way through the recipes from longest prep time to shortest prep time. Anything that can be refrigerated or can sit out for a longer amount of time should be made first (like our Ranch Crack Dip), and anything that tastes best warm from the oven should be made just before guests arrive (such as our Easy Stuffed Mushrooms).
For beverages, consider filling a small basin or cooler with a bag of ice to keep cold drinks cool, or store it with ice in a drink dispenser.