Hello everyone... I'm excited to have my first blog post up and ready. There are plenty of blogs out there about attending events, but not too many from the view of an event planner (either as the planner or the attendee of that event). I plan on keeping busy with new events, fun ideas, and tips that you can use no matter the size or type of event. As I continue this blog I'd love to get your ideas, input, and questions. So... without further ado, let's dive in!
This past Friday my husband and I hosted our annual Christmas Party. With a smaller income (leaving a full-time job and starting your own business has this effect) we agreed to host our party, but keep it on a budget. Instead of a play-by-play of the evenings events, I've created 5 tips to hosting a simple holiday party that you can use for any upcoming party or gathering. Having the family over for Christmas? Throwing a New Year's Eve party? Hosting a dinner party? These 5 tips will come in handy for all of the above and more!
1) Ask others to Co-Host
Don't be embarrased to ask others to bring things or your close friends to co-host.
I asked my good friends, Emma & Amanda, to help co-host the party. Emma is also an event planner and Amanda is a pinterest nut, and this allowed each of us to not spend too much while keeping the party fun! Most people actually enjoy being a part of the planning or bringing something to the party. We also asked our guests to bring wine, beer, or a cocktail to share (this helped keep the event on a budget as alcohol is the single most expensive item when hosting). Since the alcohol was taken care of and Emma and Amanda each brought some food, I had time and money to spend on more food, great decorations, and basic beer/wine. Emma & Amanda also arrived early to help with last minute set up and prep of food. Among other things, Amanda made a delicous baked brie with cranberries and Emma brought props & a polaroid for the photo booth!
2) Decorate Early
Decorations set the mood and don't need to be stressful. Get it done early and relax.
Since we were throwing a holiday themed party, our main decorations were already up, but I enjoyed making extra decor specific to the party such as a "Cheers" banner (the party title was "Holiday Cheers"), photo booth backdrop, snowman cups, and even custom-crafted toothpicks. I particularly love decorations, but like most people they always take longer to make than I originally imagine. I enjoyed creating decorations and "pinteresty" additions the weeks leading up to the party, so I didn't leave it to the last minute. There is no reason to get stressed or tired the day of your party because of decorations. A little bit here and there goes a long way. And to be completely honest, this is a stress-reliever for me, so throwing a party is sometimes an excuse for me to put up decorations and craft.
3) Find your Pinterest vs. Store bought Balance
The difference between fun and sanity starts with balance. :)
Not everything has to be homemade, but if you're like me, you do enjoy making fun treats, food signs, and other pinterest-like things. Enjoy the fun of making those things, but don't feel like everything has to be homemade. My guests enjoyed the pinterest touches throughout the party, and I was still energetic enough to host the party becuase I hadn't lost my mind (completely anyway!). Everyone has their level of interest, so if pinterest and crafts aren't yours, then don't sweat it: just hire me! :) I bought a 6 lb. bag of meatballs from Costco, pre-cooked mini-dogs, and pre-popped popcorn that were easy to set out and enjoyed by all. On the pinterest/craft front, I did have fun making a chocolate-covered pretzel wreath, peanut butter cookies, santa belt decorated shot glasses, homemade candy cane card holders (pictured below), and many more!
4) Know Your Guests
Invite people, then build the party around who you invited.
Before too much planning of the party, I thought about who I wanted to invite and what kind of party that would produce. Then I created the drinks, food, and decor around those who were attending. Our party didn't include kids because most of our friends don't have kids yet, so that eliminated extra activities needed. If kids had been invited I would recommend a small, simple craft they could do (even fun coloring pages), a movie playing in the background, and a few board games. We also knew that most of our guests enjoy their libations, so we made sure we had extra drinks beyond the wine & beer guests might bring. At the same time, not all of our guests drink alcohol, so we had soda and russian tea (made by Ross) available. The implication that there would be drinking was in the invite, but there wasn't an expectation to drink if they weren't comfortable.
5) Plan activities, but keep it flexible
Finding a balance here can make the difference in how long your guests stay.
Most people don't enjoy hours of games (even though they'll be good sports like our friend John), and at the same time most people don't enjoy hours of small talk. Since we invited a variety of friends including family members, friends, family of friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. we knew that everyone wouldn't know eachother and wanted to have a few activities available. Unlike other parties we've hosted before, we decided to move our cars out of the garage and add an extra space out there for games. This allowed us to spread out the group and have distinct activity areas. The garage had beer pong, darts, and a holiday-themed photo booth with props. The living room was calmer with the fireplace going and soft music, which allowed for conversation. The kitchen (no matter what you do, most people always gather near food) was a space for drinks, food, and more conversation. There was no set schedule of activities, but my husband and I are pretty good at feeling out a crowd and noticing when a group game or small activity should start. Joe got some friends playing darts and I gathered with my college roommate & others for a game of beer pong near the beginning of the party to help spread out around the house. (Hosts are allowed to have fun, just keep a third eye on the room dynamic and environment so you know what might be needed and when people are coming or going). We did end up playing a group game of catch phrase (a Broman favorite) towards the end of the night, which helped people meet each other and brought the group together.
So, next time you volunteer to host a party, help a friend out with their party, or jump all in for a crazy idea your spouse always has (like my husband does for me), use these simple tips and everyone will be sure to have a great time!