Tips for (Party Planning) Success

It's no secret that I love planning events.  Which is probably why my (one-day-a-week) "career" revolves around such, albeit in a roundabout fashion.  And while "party planner" is a cringed-upon term in the biz., it's pretty accurate in terms of my personal life.

Hosting showers, birthdays and gatherings is one of my favorite things to do and entertaining turns into an obsession a hobby of sorts when I take on a specific task.  More than anything though, I enjoy welcoming others into our home and making the ones I care about feel loved, whatever the occasion may be.

I do, however, have two little kids and my free time is not what it used to be so prepping in advance is key to keeping the task of hosting enjoyable and relatively stress-free.  After all, the idea is to enjoy the fruits of your labor with your guests rather than to feel stressed and isolated at your own gathering.

Here are my top five tips for entertaining:

1. Decide, and stick to, a theme as far in advance as possible.  It doesn't have to be over the top or even mentioned to guests, but having some sort of vision will help things come together.  It will serve as the driving force behind your invitations, your decor and your menu, if possible.  Themes can be as simple as a color palette or as specific as a phrase or quote from a favorite book.

The...'and stick to' is the hardest part.  Especially these days when Pinterest and Etsy can make a girl go bat shit crazy.  With every key stroke and click of the mouse your once great idea turns into "...Hmmm, but I think I like that idea better" and "I must have that!" and "I could do that".  Am I right or am I right?   Side note: I have said it before, but I am SO happy not to have planned my wedding during the Pinterest / Etsy era.  I most certainly would have lost my fiancee due to a mental breakdown.

2. With your theme decided upon, start prepping early.  If I had my preference, I would have at least a month to plan for every event.  Although I procrastinate on some things (like menu planning), I find that the more time I have, the more thought I am able to put into the details.  This is huge for decor.  Create a space in your home dedicated to the party and start stashing items that you find (around the house or at the store) like a squirrel.  Do you have a vase that you want to use?  Put it aside.  Did you find napkins for sale at the store?  Purchase them and keep the receipt in the event that you find something better or don't end up using them.  When you are ready to set up for the event, all of the items you wish to use will be in one spot.

3. Accept help.  You know that there will inevedibly be a few people who reply to your invite with, "Let me know how I can help!"  Take them up on it.  Admitadely, this is hard for me to do for two reasons:

1) I truly don't want anyone to have to purchase anything or make anything for a party that I have decided to host.  I want every guest to feel like...a guest.

2) Selfishly, I hate to give up control.  There, I said it.  And, yes, it would be a problem in many areas of my life...but we won't get into that today ;)  I don't want to lose sight of the vision I have and I feel as though accepting help will be like throwing in the towel.  Silly, silly, silly.  I am getting better though because, let's face it, there's plenty of control details to share with others.  And, the great thing about being the hostess is that you get to delegate as you wish.  Hate baking?  Have someone make dessert.  Don't have time to go to the liquor store?  Enlist a personal shopper.  Feel free to give them your vision so that everyone is on the same page but try not to go too far in driving the point home.  Otherwise they'll never ask to help again - ha.

4. Add a few entertaining elements / conversation starters to your get together.  I don't mean you have to have a three-piece band, but rather some sort of activity to keep the event moving and guests occupied.  This is especially true of times where not everyone will know someone else.  And if you're thinking "...but I hate games....", I'm not so fond of them either.  Activities can vary (build-your-own food or drink station, write a note to the bride-to-be, create a couples photo booth, etc. etc.) but allow people to move conversations, meet new people and explore the space a bit.

5. Finally, if you do nothing else...prepare the night before.  For a seamless event, do ALL that you can the night before.  This is Mama Blais' Numero Uno tip and has been instilled in my party planning habits.  Your husband and kids will surely look at you like you are nuts when it's 10pm and you are cooking eggs, but you will thank me.  Put up the decor, lay out your table (including serving dishes that you will use), cook, cook, cook (or prep, prep, prep - I even like to write the temp. and the time of the items that I am going to bake) all that you can, set up the bar, choose your music, clean your house, put away clutter and get the house ready as if guests were coming at 9:00am.  I know it sounds lame (and a bit phsyco), but it works.

Here's why: something will come up the day of the party (whether it be related or not) and you don't want to have something extra to do on top of getting ready for the actual event.  Like, let's say, dealing with a three year old who has an accident all over your freshly made bed....just saying.  In addition, by prepping the night before you will most likely catch any last minute items that you need to get the next day (ice, wine, flowers).


Here's a few pictures of Linds' "Vintage Library" Baby Shower from this Sunday.

How cute are these bookmarks?!  Anne over at Come and Break Bread provided me with this free printable in addition to the 8x10 quote of "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents" by Emille Buchwald.

Can't wait to meet you Baby Asa!


Amanda said...

Tiff, seriously!? That table, the garland, the invites... all amazing. Of course I expect nothing less. Your parties are always amazing! Miss you, friend!

Anne said...

Wow- I love every detail! Thanks for sharing!