Carefree Blonde

Monday, April 1, 2019

4 Simple Steps To Host The Perfect Party: A Detailed Guide (Graduation, Birthdays, Milestones)

Let me ask you a question. Do you love the idea of hosting parties but get extremely overwhelmed and stressed when it actually comes to it? Like if I could just show up to my party and actually be able to enjoy it I'd be totally fine!?  Can I tell you something? I completely understand. Here's the good news though. 

You can EASILY turn into the perfect party hosting pro with these 4 simple guidelines. Parties are meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Yes...even you my sweet stressed soul. Scroll down and heck get ready to print this post to keep with you as a guide. We are going to get detailed with how to prep, plan, execute, and hopefully give you some ideas to incorporate at your next gathering! Bonus! There is a coupon code for any kind of invitation you could possibly want (scroll to first bullet point)

Content Summary:

1.Better Notice, Better Turnout

2. By Failing to Prepare, You Prepare to Fail

3. Set The Mood

4. Sometimes You Gotta Let Your Hair Down

Thank you to Basic Invite for sponsoring today's post. Although this post is sponsored all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own!

I LOVE to host. I mean it. I just love hosting and the details. Give me all the Parties, dinners, and HOA meetings as of recent (talk about a "what the heck was I thinking" moment when I volunteered to step in as HOA president...another post for another time I guess.) Looking back on how my hosting strategies have evolved, I can now see how simple changes (that I'll get to in a minute) have made a world of difference for me and has made parties more exciting and less stressful.

I remember my first party I threw. It was a baby shower and I felt this immense pressure to get it right. It was for a good friend after all. I wanted all the details, all the decor, all the food, all the labels, all the games, and blah to be absolutely breathtaking and perfect. Is this wrong? Heck no! BUT I found myself staying up until 2 in the morning and then waking up again at 5 to start brunch recipes that Pinterest said I "needed". I was exhausted, stressed, and ultimately not in the mood to be a cheery bubbly host. Fast forward to everyone walking in and I'm overly concerned with how to ask people to leave their shoes in the entry way (because we choose not to wear shoes in our home), I keep rushing in the kitchen to make sure food isn't burning but will be hot when we eat. I'm jumping from that to trying to catch candid moments on the camera (you know the ones where they pretend they don't see you out of the corner of their eye but totally do so they do a cute smile laugh, or completely bend over mouth open laughing too hard at something?Have I done this before?...yes...yes I have.) Guys it was too much and after everyone left I'm exhausted from pinning the corners of my mouth up to resemble a smile while running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I turn around and see a MESS that now I needed to clean after all that prep. I remember feeling deflated like maybe hosting wasn't something for me. Maybe I liked the idea but not the action. Maybe never again.

Have I painted a painful picture for you? Thankfully I gave it another go and have been hooked since. Please let me help you avoid this version of my party planning past. Let's get to it. How can you plan for a party. Let's get more specific. We are getting somewhat close to the end of another school year so let's say you are planning a teenage party. A graduation party!

1. The Better the Notice, The Better the Turnout

  • Mail out your invite. K you are now already way ahead of 95% of people today. I prefer a physical invitation 100X more than any type of evite. By sending a physical invitation, it makes the event feel more special. There is a formality to invitations that your friends will appreciate. Plus they can put it on their fridge or calendar and will have a visual reminder of what's coming up. I personally mail 99% of invitations for events. It's just classy. If you're looking for an amazing invite service, Basic Invite has the cutest styles with the most customization I've seen. You can select from over 180 different colors to personalize each element of your card which is perfect for incorporating school colors! My two favorite features about Basic Invite though is first you can order a sample card of the one you want to make sure the paper, photo, and details are what you want before placing your full order. Second! To make addressing easier (because let's be honest that's not much fun). You can post or send a link to the people you'd like to invite and then basic invite will store the addresses for you in your account. Once you're ready to design, they pull it up and address the envelopes for you at no additional cost!! You can get your high school graduation invitations or any other items for 15% off with code 15FF51
  • It is best to send out an invitation 3-4 weeks in advance. Too much notice and you risk it falling off their radar. Too little notice you risk them already having plans. I find the 3-4 week window to be the perfect timing with most success. 2 weeks at the bare minimum but anything less than that is too short of notice for most people.
  • RSVP I always include an RSVP by a certain date. Keep a list of everyone you invited. As soon as they RSVP check them off the list. If I don't hear from someone on my list, a week before the party I reach out and just let them know I'm getting a head count for food or party favors. I find "just asking for party favor count" makes it seem much more light hearted than "I hadn't heard from you yet." Several times I've had people so OH! I completely forgot I'm glad you called! Life gets busy and this serves as a great reminder.
  • Speaking of reminders, it's a good idea to send a text to even the ones that RSVP'd just saying something along the lines of "excited to see y'all this weekend at the party!" Once again just a reminder without being pushy and your guest will feel thought of. Win win
  • Don't feel like you have to invite everyone. I've struggled with this and I'm thinking  you have to. You may feel obligated to invite certain people and if you have the space or feel strongly you should then do it! That being said, we have a smaller house so when we have parties I really have to think of how many people can comfortably fit without it feeling claustrophobic. My rule of thumb when needing to limit the guest list is who the party is for. If I'm throwing a birthday for my son, I'll only invite families with kids that age, or if you're doing a graduation party (needing to limit numbers) families just with teenagers. There are of course a few outliers of dear family friends. 

2. "By Failing to Prepare, You Prepare to Fail" 
~Benjamin Franklin

  • After I've selected a theme (if you want one) and sent out invitations, I take a sheet of paper and jot down everything I'd like. This is just me brain dumping what would be fun at the party. This is everything from food to activities to decor and etc. I turn to trusty Pinterest for new perspective and inspiration.  From there I can decide what will actually work and a time table of when I need to get things done.
  • 1 by 3 rule. For every one dish you make plan for 3 make ahead or assembly only type dishes like a cheese platter and fruit to limit your prep time in the kitchen the day of. 
  • Keep things simple. If you decide on lots of fun activities, keep decor simple. If you'd like some detailed decor maybe have your food spread be less involved. Think a sandwich bar where you can set out cut croissants and different fillers. Not a lot of cooking, simple, and the guests can make it exactly how they'd like. I love making party backdrop walls behind food tables. Depending on what I do it can take some time so I really believe in simplifying the food. Honestly no one is going to remember what they had so use easy foods you know will go over well.
  • When planning for beverages keep in mind your audience. Big groups with lots of kids I like to opt for beverage dispensers with plastic cups or water bottles. Keep a couple sharpies by the drinks for guests to write their names on. Theres nothing worse than setting your drink down and forget which is yours. Let's keep the germs contained.
  • If you have a guest reach out and offer to help let them! A lot of times I say "oh no I got it but thanks!" In my mind I don't want them to feel responsible for anything. When I flip the script, I like to feel helpful and like I'm contributing. Even if it's something simple like napkins or a bag of ice. It's one less thing you need to do and will make your guests feel involved.
  • Plan your space. As I mentioned we are in a smaller house for entertaining so when planning the layout it's smart to think ahead. People will be where the food is! I like to write/draw this out because I'm a visual person. For me I put like foods together. Maybe appetizers or snacks in the kitchen, then main foods on a designated food table. You'll also want to keep trash bins in visible easily accessible areas. Get creative with the space you have but remember to give your guests space to chat!

3. Set The Mood

  • I found this tip scrolling through the internet and thought it was genius. I'll definitely be using this going forward. Invite a couple close friends over before the party starts! With having a few friends there, once that first guest wanders up to the door it eliminates that awkward waiting for others to get there and small talk while you try to hurry and finish up. You can talk to your friends in advance and just let them know once people start trickling in to get chatty with them while you finish or if they're not the chatty type see if they can help you finalize everything while you greet guests. There was a study done that basically says what guests remember most of an event is how they feel when they get there and how they feel when they leave. Not all the intricate folded napkins or ice sculpture lol mind blowing right!? People remember how they feel.
  • Make your home feel "homey". Light a couple of your favorite candles and have them strategically placed out of the way. Set light background music to fill any awkward silent voids. Maybe place flowers on your entry table or throughout the home. Little details like this might not stand out as much as party decor but it will give the subtle welcomed feel. 
  • Turn the A/C down a few degrees or if it's chilly outside crack a window. It's surprising how warm a space gets with lots of bodies around!
  • If your party is indoors, and you have a no shoes policy set the expectations. I'll bring a few pairs of shoes to the front door to show people as they walk in that, that's where we leave our shoes. If it's a big group I'll use my cafe style chalk board that says something simple like "Please leave shoes here" or "Party there, Shoes here". 
  • Tidy and stock your bathroom. Make sure a few extra rolls of toilet paper are in the guest bathroom, wipe down all the surfaces, and put a fresh hand towel in there. 
  • Make sure to close all doors of areas you do not want guests wandering too. If a door is open people will go in. If you are using a bedroom as a purse and coat drop. Make sure the bed is made and is tidy for anyone that will walk in. No one wants to see your dirty laundry!

4. Sometimes You Just Gotta Let Your Hair Down

  • Time to enjoy! You've done everything now you need to play hostess and enjoy! Welcome everyone as they arrive and thank them for making time to spend with you! People want to feel important and special. The most amazing people I know have this amazing gift of making every single person they come in contact feel as if they are just the most important person there. 
  • Take pictures at the beginning or ask a friend (or two) to snap some pics throughout the evening. I hate when I get caught up in hosting and forget to get pictures.
  • Part of being a good host is keeping conversations flowing. When you introduce people to each other, point out something they have in common or an interesting fact about one. This will help a genuine conversation start and continue to flow even once you get pulled away which you will.
  • If you are doing a dessert, announce it or start serving close to the end of the party. This is a good signal that the evening is drawing to a close. You can choose to thank everyone again and tell them to enjoy dessert and the rest of the time. After this, you'll naturally find people start to trickle out.
  • Accept help....again.... If someone offers to help or asks what they can do, think of something small and helpful. They made need to feel useful. If it's a shy friend maybe ask for them to help serve dessert which will give them that little nudge to talk to other people they may not know.
Since we were hypothetically planning a graduation party, here are a few Graduation Party theme ideas I think would be so fun!

1. Dr. Seuss "Oh the Places You'll Go" (If you have a world traveler hearted grad this would be perfect.)

2. Cheers For what's in store (You could do a cute "bubbly bar" with everything you'd need for make your own Italian Sodas.)

3. Capture the Moment (Have the whole party be about photos. Photo backdrop and prop. Give everyone a unique hashtag to use. Once the party is done print the photos into a book as a gift for your grad. They'll have a keepsake of all their close friends.)

4. Building Memories (Have a guest sign in on a new Jenga set for your grad to keep. The whole party can be about backyard games.)

5. Touchdown (Perfect for your football star grad. You could use these football graduation invitations and have football themed yard games and food)

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