1. Plan plan plan…if you don’t have a plan… You should hire a pro.
There’s a few key elements of a fabulous party… The first thing you need is a date. People have lives and so do you, so give them plenty of time to rsvp.
If you want this party to be a success send out a real invitation, no Facebook, email, or texting please. It’s just not as effective as a mailed invitation. Plus they allow people to post it on their fridge or in their calendar so they don’t forget!
Paper invitations add taste and flare to your event, it’s a timeless tradition, don’t skip this step.
I’ve been recently fond of the invitations matching the theme, but that’s a personal preference. They don’t have to be fancy, just in writing and in the mail!
Depending on where you have it you may need to confirm your headcount, and you will need to know your headcount for planning food/ booze so don’t skimp on this very important detail.
This is the most crucial peice of the process but don’t worry… Just make sure to thoroughly count your rsvp’s and make sure to advance the rsvp date at least a week (minimum) before your event.
If you are hosting with a caterer they will need a headcount by a specific time, the same goes for an event held at a remote site.
2. Have a theme.
For every occasion there can be an overlapping theme, cause or design scheme. Whether you are hosting a birthday party for a 6 year old (who knows what they want) or you are preparing for a bridal shower, have a theme, it’ll look much more put together.
My mother recently retired from her job. Her life was quite interesting, she’s an artist, she used to teach art classes when she stayed at home raising me, so her theme was clearly art inspired. She not only taught art, but her topic of interest and the theme she painted the most was beach inspired landscapes…
Which coincidentally brought me to my next theme, the beach… Where she was moving to… So!!!! “The art of retirement” was the theme, and I incorporated art and beach themes in unison.
Once you have a theme, everything falls into place: food, decor, booze, everything!!!
3. You don’t have to pay a million dollars to have a fabulous party, just make sure there is food and booze.
Based on your number of people, your guests taste and your theme you have to build a menu.
I typically stick with wine and beer because it’s well received by anyone. Vodka is a taste, gin is a taste and generally people have different preferences but if they don’t like wine or beer… There’s always soft drinks.
Consider about 1/2 bottle of wine per person and 2-3 beers per person. You’ll probably have left over booze but that’s okay! Some places will let you return unopened bottles, but you can regift it or just save it for your next function!
The food has to be good. You can’t have a good party without good food. All other things may fail but a good scallop wrapped in bacon never fails! (Just an example, many people do not care for bacon or seafood.) You must know your audience.
You need to know your crowd enough to know if they are picky, if they are upscale or if they are laid back. Ideally, easy crowds are the best but usually you have a few of the picky and classy type mixed in. Pick items that are staple foods either of the culture you/ your crowd is, or just straight American classics.
Your menu should have 3 elements appetizers, main entree type foods, and dessert. Obviously if it’s a cocktail party this may not apply but you want to have a couple light apps, a couple hot apps, and light and hot foods for the main course. Dessert is easy, anything and everything goes, except ice cream that’s a commitment.
I chose to make all my food from scratch, but if you have it catered chances are they will suggest more but you don’t need to have it all, especially on a budget.
We chose cheese, meats and crackers, deviled eggs, antipasti skewers, bacon wrapped scallops and shrimp cocktail.
As you can see there’s some decor mixed onto the display it helps give wholesome theme flavor throughout the party.
4. Don’t stress.Make signs instead!
People are instruction oriented, they need direction, they crave order, they need signs for things so they don’t mess it up. The social pressure at the party is high, don’t make people feel stupid trying to figure out where to start on the table or how to scoop the salad dressing. No one likes to admit it, but people don’t usually think like a host… They need to know what to do.
Signs are pretty, they make your life easier and people feel better knowing they didn’t mess everything up!
5. Every detail counts. If it didn’t matter it wouldn’t be there…
Here’s a list: (how mine starts anyway)
Silverware or plasticware
Paper or plastic in general for all materials.
Think of this as a general concept. The detail can be as intense or as simple as necessary.
Personally I know every table needs a runner and a centerpeice, to make theme cohesive.
I wanted it to be reminiscent of reading and relaxing on the beach with nature and lots of different colors. I incorporated the beach artist with a New England type of feel. I’m pretty sure I nailed it.
Each table had spray painted copper cans with paint brushes in them, and fun facts with photographs of all my mom’s achievements. Luckily I had a lot of material.
6. Have help because you can’t do it alone if you want to pull it off.
Don’t think for a second that 100% of the work was done by me, even though I’d like to take credit for it. I simply knew what I wanted it to look like, and I directed people accordingly.
I had help to place the food, pour the ice, move the tables and chairs and all the heavy lifting in general. If you don’t have help, you will never want to do another party again. You have to be a team player and you have to assign duties, trust me it’ll save you a headache.
7. Just because you are the host doesn’t mean you can’t party!!!
Part of the fun of a party is relishing in your hard work but also in visiting with friends and family. Make your menus easy and your beverages easy so you can set it up and leave it alone. Don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful event you have created!
You may not be able to stand up by the end of the running around, but sit back and relax with a glass of wine and take in the energy of a group of happy people midway through an event that you made happen.
Don’t forget to accept compliments and remember that the point of celebrating is to honor life’s moments, with people who you love. Take the stress out of the equation and you will be a natural!
Cheers you party animal you!