April 26, 2008

Party Planning 101: Lesson IV

So far we've decided on our theme, invited our guests, and planned the menu & the table setting. Now we are in the final stage of our party planning. If the ball gets dropped at this point the party will still go on - but it could easily end up being a flop - so pay attention!

The difference between a good party and a great party is all in the details. So go ahead and take a step back from everything you've done so far and look for 'gaps' that can be filled. Think back to Lesson I - choosing the theme. Think about the overall theme for your party and then look at the reality of your situation. It may not be real to envision your backyard Mexican themed barbeque in an adobe Spanish style home if your house is a split level, but it is realistic to envision Mexican details to pull the party together to make the 'non-themed' pieces fade into the background. If a party is done right it is the details that are remembered by guests. Here are some great ways to add personalized details to your party:

  • If you used a monogram, logo, or other party related motif on your invitation (or even if you didn't, go ahead and make one) incorporate that into your decor. Some examples of this may include setting individual menus at each place setting with the logo at the top or embellishing cocktail umbrellas with a party themed design.
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  • STICK TO YOUR COLOR SCHEME. Color can make or break a party. A unified palette can bring things together that normally wouldn't match. Use different textures and materials whenever possible to create more interest and make it seem less matchy/matchy.

  • Do party favors. Make a little package with chocolates (and yes, Hershey kisses ARE overdone), for a summer party give packets of flower seeds, if you have a garden send home small packages of fresh blackberries, something simple and heartfelt is always best - but tie it in with your party. For a Mexican barbeque give guests small maracas or individually wrapped churros!


  • Don’t forget any space. If you are hosting an event at an outside venue put together baskets for the restrooms that include tissues, purell, tampons, lip blotters, etc. If your event is in your home have a candle lit in your bathroom (you know why) and put out some lotion and other things for your guests to use.


  • Lastly think outside of the box. If your group of friends host a lot of get togethers do something different than the standard decorations that your group always see. Do an inspiration search online for ideas.
After you've done your 'gap-searching' make a list of EVERYTHING that you will need for the event. EVERYTHING - big or small. Then make a list of EVERYTHING that needs to be done. Be a boy scout and be prepared! There is nothing worse or more embarrassing to have people over and realize that you are missing a key ingredient to a recipe or game or anything. So make your list early and go shopping. Then when you get home lay out each ingredient with the corresponding project or recipe to do a double check. If you’re missing something go back to the store.

The last thing to do before you start cooking and setting up for your event is to do a dry run. If you are hosting an event in which you are using vendors call and confirm every detail with them. (Don't worry about imposing on their time - that's what they're getting paid for.) If you're hosting at your home, walk the same path through your home (or venue if applicable) the same way that your guests will enter. This will give you a fresh set of eyes to see the things that your guests will see. For example, if a guest is coming to my home then they will walk into my formal living room, but they will also be able to see into the sitting room, so I would want to put fresh flowers and maybe some candles on my coffee table in the formal living room and make sure that lamp is on in the sitting room. If the party is not being held in the same room that the guests will enter into make sure that the areas leading up to that area are clean, well lit, and free from clutter (toys in the hall, etc). And don’t forget these spaces, add small touches to make it feel connected to the party, but don’t put a lot of party specific d├ęcor in these areas.

1 comment:

  1. And all I ever worried about was making sure things were clean... You make me (almost) want to throw a party!