How to Plan the Perfect Party... and ENJOY it!
Party Planning. It's a whole lot different than partying. Am I right? From the decor, to the food, to the music, to the entertainment, to the favors...and on and on. Pinterest has created such pressure in hosting that people would rather not plan an event at all than have it not be perfect. That is not the point! Perfection, as I have stated, is not a goal... enjoyment IS! Enjoying your home, relishing in company, having mistakes happen and telling yourself, "huh, ok... won't do that again. Moving on."
So how can we accomplish a well decorated, delicious and memorable party without the stress and pressure? BOOM. I'm here to help. Here are 7 tips for a fun and gorgeous, stress-free party!
It's the first impression of the party and should relate to the theme. Is it a wedding shower? Is it a guy's birthday bash? What is the tone you want to set? DO NOT go buy everything for the party. Use and reuse what you have. Frame pictures of the person you are throwing the event for around the house (with frames you already own). Don't have matching dishes? GREAT, mix and match and play off the funky decor.
A great tip is to use one central focal point for the party. Whether it be the food table or the gift table, center your creative decor to one area. That's where people will take photos in front of and gather around. It doesn't mean leave the rest of the house void of any decoration, but it helps to have a main base for the party.
A great example for creative decor is a baby shower. Get old books you may have for kids and open them on the food table or stack them up. I have used old scraps of burlap as a table topper and made baby footprints going across the table for a cute touch (pictured above). What about upside down umbrellas for the "shower" hanging over the drink table (see pictures in bottom of article). Knowing your THEME is key. Play with it, add humor to it. Chalkboards are great for that. Invest in some or make your own like these.
Don't let small spaces scare you. I once threw a party in a one bedroom apartment we were living in at the time in LA. It worked! I just had to be creative with space. For example, the coffee bar was stationed on our hutch and the drinks were all on the walk out patio. But it worked!
Make sure to think outside the box. There is no right or wrong way to decorate your party. Have fun! I didn't have a napkin holder at one event so I used books as a bookend, if you will, for the napkins. There are no rules. Just map all of your ideas out so you can check them off the list. This brings me to my next point.... you guessed it!
2. The List
There is no right or wrong way to organize your party, but you do need to create a list. One major list with categories:
Write out anything else you need to check off. Having a list will make it easier to distribute responsibilities. Now pause. I am AWFUL at this. I want to do it all myself and think (to this day) I can, until my wonderful husband reminds me that I turn insane and begin sweating, and cursing and answering the door in my yoga pants because there "WASN'T ANY TIME! THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME!" So unless you want to be like Jessie from Save by the Bell...DELEGATE. There are always people asking to help, and if you don't have those people in your life, find new friends.
Also, make sure your list has an "in advanced" and "day of" section. Why? Because the next tip:
3. DO IT IN ADVANCE
What though? EVERYTHING! Have the decor up the day (or two) prior. If you have little ones in the house, hang everything up they can't reach and decorate the night before when they go to sleep. Have your food prepped. Make room in the fridge for all the marinated meats and set up your cheese plates in advance. Please pick food that CAN be done in advanced (I use the BEST pork sliders that are a sure win!) Bake that pie beforehand. Have a drink station. Yes, you can do this. You cannot and should not be in charge of drinks. It is time consuming and you will be stuck there all night. Having a station lets people take for themselves. I suggest wine and/or beer and a premixed drink in a dispenser. Be sure to have nonalcoholic options as well.
Trust me, every minute counts for you to have a stress-free party. Something always pops up the day of the party, so do as much as you can the night before. Your future planning self will thank you.
I don't feel like I should have to go into too much detail on this one but... get it. Have someone get it. Then have another person get some more. You always run out, and always need more. Have an ugly cooler on the side of your house set up so you can store the ice in the shade and leave your freezer free.
5. Flowers MAKE the difference.
People. If you have read this far in then I can bet on the fact that you trust at least 60% of what I say. So trust this. Flowers change a party. They make it fresh and fancy and fill spaces that may need some color! I know, they aren't cheap. I know, they just die. I know, some people have an allergy to smell. TAKE A BENADRYL, SALLY! It's worth it.
I used to live in LA and the downtown flower district was my heavenly place. $12 for 3 dozen roses, and I could even talk that down! But I know most places don't have this luxury, unfortunately. However, there are some great alternatives. Trader Joes really does have a great selection, but you have to go first thing in the morning. Also, Costco has decent prices on roses and hydrangeas.
Wherever you can find a deal, grab "like" colors and stay away from too many premixed bouquets
(unless you are going for that wildflower look). Get your fillers, such as hydrangeas or Queen Anne's Lace. Then get your flowers for height, such as gladiolus, delphinium, or any tall greens. Then the main event: beauties like roses or tulips or even daisies. You may not be able to pre-plan your flower arrangements and have to go with what looks the healthiest and most beautiful. That is part of the fun of it though. If you are having a hard time, just know whites look good with everything!
Arrange your flowers the night beforehand and stretch them in as many vases, pitchers or even old bottles that you can. Place them where people will be sitting, getting drinks, on the food table and even by the gift drop off. Flowers do more than you think. Use them!
6. Leave time for yourself
Yes, I HAVE answered the door in yoga pants before. I have also had to forget the make-up one party because I left getting ready until the last minute. Let's just say I don't love the pictures. It's hard to turn the switch off and leave things for 30 minutes, but do it. You can always come back to it once you are dressed. Feeling good about yourself during the party is as important as how the house looks. So, however long it takes you, get ready and leave that gap available for you. I even set an alarm. Say the party starts at 2pm, I'll give myself from 12:30-1:30 to get ready and then I have 30 minutes to tie up the loose ends. Bada-Bing.
Guests are only as relaxed as the host is. You set the tone! If you are running around, stressing out about the food getting cooked, or trying to fill drinks for people, or answering the door every 2 minutes... your guests will pick up on that and have a hard time enjoying themselves. Once the party starts it's time to relax. That is why it is so important to have it all ready in advance! After all, what is the point of hosting the party if you can't savor the fruits of your labor?