Whether it’s an intimate gathering or a huge bash, planning is a key to its success. With just a little planning your party will be remembered fondly by your guests (and you). Don’t forget the details. It is often the details that make your guests feel special.
First you need to to make a few decisions:
- What type of party do you want?
- What is your budget?
- How many people do you want to invite?
- Where and when do you want to have it?
- Once you’ve figures that out, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff.
Just like all first impressions your invitation will entice your guests, so be creative. If you want to send an unusual size or shape invitation through the mail, check with the post office for the cost. Then, send a sample to yourself to make sure it holds up to the process. Here are a few more tips:
- Use “RSVP” so you get an actual attendee count. Avoid “regrets only” it sends a negative tone and people often don’t respond.
- Let people RSVP by email as well.
- Don’t add loose confetti to the invitation; this annoys most people.
- If you’re planning a dinner party include the menu.
- Include a map and directions.
- Go to the fabric store to create cheap tablecloths. Make sure that you know how many yards of fabric you need. Cut the edges with pinking shears or tape up the hem.
- Use a large piece of paper to cover the kids table and put out little buckets of crayons (washable, of course) and let them create their own tablecloth.
- Table centerpieces should not take up a large portion of the table or be tall (guest should be able to see clearly to the other side). Raffle off the centerpieces as fun party favors. This will also aid you in the end of the party clean-up.
- Decorate the buffet table too.
- Visit the thrift store and the 99-cent store, you’d be surprised at the stuff you can find there to decorate the tables.
- If using candles be sure the holder is secure, votive candles in water are even better. Never use candles when children are at the party or at a costume party.
- There is always some type of flower or arrangement for every party. Ask your florist for ideas. Order early or make if yourself using dried or silk flowers.
- Lighting is another element, if appropriate, add twinkle lights to trees, doorways, etc. Change out regular bulbs for colored bulbs.
Music and Entertainment:
Your music choices include having a DJ, a band, or a selection of CDs along with a good CD player. If you are hiring entertainers or a bouncer (for kids to jump in) be sure to make arrangements early.
Games and Activities:
Not essential for every party but for smaller parties or if children are coming have something planned. Prizes should, of course, be theme related.
Party Favors & Prizes:
Party favors are a nice touch and they don’t have to be expensive, just creative.
If you have a lot of people attending that don’t already know each other have name tags ready. You can be creative here too by adding themed stickers, quotes, or an interesting fact about the person like Best Peach Pie Maker. Be creative with the names (for a Renaissance Party write “Lord Tim”). Have the tags ready at the front door in alphabetical order with a few extras on hand.
Food and Drinks:
Label the food, creatively. “Ye ol’ bucket of bread” for a Swashbuckling Party. Be sensitive to food allergies and label foods that contain seafood and/or nuts. Be sure you include at least one vegetarian dish. Be sure to include water as a beverage choice. Juice, coffee, and a punch are great as well. Make sure you have enough quantity and variety for non-drinkers and designated drivers.
Don’t allow your guests to drink and drive!At the Party:
- If you’re busy in the kitchen or with the caterers, assign a friend or relative to be the official greeter to welcome guests. Have them take their coats and direct them to the refreshments.
- Put another friend in charge of taking photographs, this is a good job for one of your shy friends. This allows them a great, easy way to interact with others and it helps you out.
After the Party:
Send a thank you note along with a picture of them at the party.
Other things to consider:
- Remove fragile or breakable objects from tables or at arms length, accidents happen.
- Secure or remove rugs that slip easily, you don’t want anyone breaking an arm.
- In the bathroom: Have a roll of paper towels, often the towels become wet or dirty and people will appreciate the paper towels. Have a new air freshener near the toilets, as well as a can of spray freshener and a full roll of toilet paper. Have liquid soap or lots of little soaps available.
- If someone offers to bring something, take them up on their offer: soda, bread, cheese, it all helps.