Tuesday, April 20, 2010

party planning: part ii.

I'm back with some more tips on how to throw a great party. The first three tips can be seen here.


Step #4: Set a date. The moment you’ve got an inspiration, a theme, and a task completed, you’re ready to set the date. In fact, you must set a date, or your party is never going to happen. Two weeks ago, I saw the pancake photos on Design*Sponge. I immediately emailed a friend and asked if she’d be interested in coming. By testing my idea on a friend, I could see a) if my idea was worth implementing, and b) if it was a good time of year to throw a party. I got a positive response, so I took things a step further and tested the idea on my book club. The general consensus seemed to be that once May hit, we’d all be pretty busy. I took a look at my calendar, saw an empty Saturday in April, and sent out invitations the next day.

Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet. If you want your party to happen, you just have to pick a date. If you’re nervous about your party being a bust, create a test group. Often it just takes one other person’s enthusiasm to help you realize that throwing a party is a great idea.


Step #5: Invite the right people. What do I mean by the “right people”? Invite friends you know will appreciate your hard work. Maybe this sounds selfish, but the truth is, it’s just more fun to throw a party for people who are going to be appreciative. Perhaps the best party I feel like I’ve thrown (with the help of some other wonderful ladies) was the girls’ day at our church. We all worked so hard to make that event perfect for them, and you know what? I’d do it again in a heartbeat, because those girls said “thank you” more times than I could count.

Another tip on who to invite? Avoid those who are wishy-washy. Look, you’ve heard this rant before. I’m a firm believer in letting your yes be yes and your no be no. If you’ve got friends who you know won’t RSVP until the last possible moment, don’t invite them. Not to this party, anyway. Invite them to the larger, more casual get-togethers. But if you’re planning a dinner party for eight, save their invitation for someone who will be able to give you a solid answer. Maybe this sounds cruel, but I believe it will save you stress in the long run.

One last tip on invitees: Mix it up. Sometimes, I throw all girl shin-digs. (This goes back to my original point. Guys weren’t going to appreciate a fru-fru pancake breakfast or a Sandra Bullock movie night. So I didn’t invite them.) Other times, I just have one or two married couples over. Still other times, Jordan and I have married couples, singles, and those who are dating all mixed together. You know what? We all get along just fine. Don’t limit yourself to one group of people. Have different functions where different people can all have a good time.


Step #6: Ask for help. Some people will tell you to do everything yourself, to plan an event months in advance, and to not throw a party unless you know everything will turn out like you want it. I’m not one of those people. Almost every party I’ve ever thrown (with the exception of my wedding) was thrown together in two to four weeks. And you know what? None of them were disasters. Now, they weren’t all perfect, but remember: I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m aiming for fun. In order for these parties to be fun and well-organized with only two to four weeks at my disposal, I recruit friends. Remember the fall dinner party? I offered to have the party at my house and do all the decorating and pre-planning if my friend would cook. She happily obliged (she loves to cook), and we had a great time co-hosting together. The party came together far easier because I had one other person behind me, helping me run the show. After I set the plans for the pancake breakfast in motion, I realized I had never made pancakes. A friend offered her expertise, and I happily accepted. Other girls offered to help, so I assigned fruit to one girl, muffins to another, and juice to another.

The truth is, people want to help. They just don’t want (or have the space) to host a party at their own place. So they’ll offer to do something. Let them.


Step #7: Let time be your friend. I hosted the dinner party on a Tuesday night because I don’t work on Tuesday afternoons. I knew I’d have time to set the table, light candles, pick up chairs from the church building, etc. I rolled napkins and made name tags and placecards for the pancake breakfast the week and night before. Give yourself time to plan and execute your party how you want it to be executed. You’ll enjoy your party so much more if you had some time to do the prep work.


Step #8: Go with the flow. Once the party begins, let it take its course. Some things might not go as planned. I bet your guests never notice. What they will notice is a hostess who looks completely frazzled, uncomfortable, and out of her element. Your friends came to your function in order to spend time with you. So enjoy your party, and let your plans fall into place.

No comments: