Hosting a Successful Party

Hosting a holiday party can be stressful. Wedding and Event Planner, Katie Wilgus, shared her top tips for hosting a successful party!

THEME

For holiday parties, it’s easy to do away with a theme, and just let the holiday itself be your celebration.  If you’re interested in adding a theme to the party, it’s easy to do! Some ideas include:

  • A cookie baking party. This gives you time with friends, gives you a chance to exchange recipes, and you all leave with gifts for others. Why not throw in a little wine tasting or holiday cocktails while you bake?
  • A party for a cause. Holidays are a great reminder that there are people out there in need. Perhaps you tie books or toys (for example) into your party, and ask each guest to bring an item that can be donated to a local non-profit organization.
  • A caroling party. Caroling doesn’t have to mean heading out into the neighborhood, you can always sing in the comfort of your own home. We have family that have hosted a caroling party for years, and ask a pianist friend to accompany them. It’s a fun way to get in the spirit.
  • A holiday sweater party. This can get pretty hilarious, and can end up being a great icebreaker.

AMBIANCE WITH LIGHTING

Let your lighting create the atmosphere you desire! We always tell our clients that lighting is one of the least expensive ways to make a huge impact on their space. When hosting an evening party, one rule of thumb is to use as little overhead lighting as possible. Try using a combination of lamps and candles – they change the feel of a room instantly!

MOOD WITH MUSIC

Music is an instant way to set the vibe of your party, and these days it only takes a minute to put together some music. There are several websites that let you stream music genres, you can put a fun mix together on your iPod, or shuffle your CD player. Also, make sure the music isn’t overpowering, just easy to listen to while conversing with guests.

SIGNATURE COCKTAILS

Instead of trying to stock an entire bar, narrow drink selections down to a few signature cocktails coupled with a few fun non-alcoholic beverages.  Some examples of each:

  • Eggnog (you can make both a naughty and nice version)
  • Champagne cocktail
  • Wassail
  • Sparkling cranberry or pomegranate soda

 FOOD

With holidays as busy as they are, keep it simple. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Offer foods that are easy to walk with, people will be more inclined to mingle rather than immediately look for a place to sit down.
  • Keep it light – people often have multiple parties during holiday weekends.  If it’s not a dinner party, don’t feel like you need to provide a tremendous amount of food.
  • If cooking isn’t your passion, or if you’re limited on time, consider taking your own platters to your local deli or favorite restaurant, and asking them to prepare something for the party. It saves you from having to transfer and rearrange food you’ve purchased, and looks so much better than serving from plastic trays.

KIDS

If kids are part of the guest list, consider having a separate room where they can play and relax. This will allow both the kids and the adults to more fully enjoy themselves. Things to consider having available for the kids:

  • A babysitter. This allows parents to relax knowing that their child is being supervised.
  • A holiday movie.
  • A selection of kid-friendly finger foods.
  • A simple holiday craft that the kids can create and take home.
  • A pajama/diaper changing area.

INVITATIONS

If at all possible, send your invitations out at least three weeks in advance. If you’re running out of time to have printed invitations made, and you’re not up for crafting them yourself, try customizing an online invitation. There are new companies popping up that have beautiful online invitations, which is also eco-friendly.  Request that your guests RSVP, which will help you determine your food and beverage needs.

BUDGET AND CHECKLIST

Creating a budget from the beginning is important, it helps you determine how to plan the party. Once your budget is in place, you can then figure out your key elements:

  • Number of guests
  • Types of food and beverages to serve
  • Types of help you might need: Babysitter, Food and beverage serving (for a larger budget, Guests to bring additional food and beverages (for a smaller budget)
  • Once your budget is in place, it’s easy to create a checklist that helps keep you on track, and saves you from rushing around at the last minute.  Try breaking it down into “weeks in advance” up to the week of the party, and then by “days in advance” the week of the party, and then “hours in advance” on the day of the party.

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