Everyone has been to or thrown a party at one time or another, right? Just last weekend I threw a Daytona 500 themed party for my husband’s birthday, and my sister-in-law suggested I blog about it. Okay, truth? What prompted her to say that was when she noticed, while I was setting up the food, that I had post it notes inside the dishes arranged on the table, noting what was going to be placed in each of them. Perhaps I should have removed the post its before any of the guests arrived, but I didn’t really think much of it. Doesn’t everyone do that? How do you know if you have enough dishes to serve your food, and enough room on the table to fit the overabundance of food that you’re likely to have?
While I absolutely LOVE entertaining, I do admit I turn into a crazy lady prior to every gathering, however big or small. Just ask my husband. He knows at what point to help out and take directives, and when to steer clear of my obsessing about the most minute details, that ultimately no one will notice except me, and my mom, of course, who is admittedly just as crazy as I am. Hey, I have to get it from someone, right? I have gotten a lot better over the years in my party planning, and have fine tuned a system that works well – the key to any successful party is PLANNING!
The first place to start is to simply decide what type of party you are having. What is the occasion? Is there a theme you’d like to follow? A specific character? Color scheme? Once you have a theme, all the other details will be much easier to decide.
When are you having the party? Date? Time? Place? How many people? What are you serving? Catering vs Cooking? Paper invitations vs. Evites? Know your limitations in planning the details. For example, if you know the last time you made those chicken wings, they took you 4 hours of intensive labor and tasted like burnt rubber, call the wing place up the road and order a tray. Or if you are working on limited time, and a strict budget, forgo the paper invitations and do an evite. However, if paper crafts are your forte, go for it. You’ll have super cute invitations, and most likely be likened to Martha Stewart for your effort and talent.
Start your lists
Now that you know the “whats”, you have to figure out “how”. I find it extremely helpful to create a list, several actually, arranged by things you need to do and things you need to purchase. For example, make a list of the food you will have, and from that make a list of either places to order it, or a shopping list of ingredients you need to make those items. A separate list might include paper products or decorations you may need to buy at the party store and goody bags (if it’s a children’s party). Include on your lists a time line too, a “by when” to have these things done. Don’t wait until the last minute, because unplanned things can happen, and it’s always best to have a cushion for the unexpected.
Get your house ready
If you are having the party at your house, be sure to give it a good cleaning, only to have to clean it twice as hard after the party is through. Remove clutter, and things you would not want misplaced. If children will be attending, remove toys with small parts that may easily become misplaced, and no doubt upended, when the children get a hold of them. Even better, have the party somewhere else and alleviate the mess!
Above all, have fun! Party planning does not need to be stressful, and anyone can do it. Don’t be afraid to solicit help from anyone offering, after all, it will be one less thing you have to do. You can take the pointers above and make them as simple or elaborate as you like, depneding on the type of party you are having. You don’t need to be a creative genius to pull it off, you just need a plan (and perhaps a few cocktails for your efforts) close by.
What are you celebrating at YOUR next party, and how are you getting ready for it? Do tell!