There is a lot more to planning a successful party people will remember than providing food and drinks for your guests. Everything from ambient lighting to toasts can have an impact on the mood of the party. You don't have to have live music or a professional planner to make your event go smoothly. Every step you make in preparation is another step toward comfort and relaxation for you as a host.
Here are a few areas where preparation is essential.
- Planning in advance
- Setting the scene
- The morning after
Planning in advance
Having a party solely because it's Friday can be done on the fly, but the majority of social gatherings require advanced planning for informing potential guests and making arrangements. It can seem difficult at first, but if you leave plenty of time for making changes, which is almost always inevitable, you can be ready for anything. Determine what type of party you wish to throw – birthdays, graduation, and promotions are all good examples. Decide on music selections, menu selections, and decorations. You don't need to be a pro to understand your friends. Think about any accommodations guests might need. Offer alternative food and drink for those with specialized diets, make parking arrangements with your neighbors, and provide activities for children. If there is going to be alcohol involved, do you have a predesignated driver or other options available for guests that consume too much? These type of accommodations can make the difference between success and failure.
Invitations are your first impression of the proposed gathering. Sending out invitations with plenty of time for RSVPs is common courtesy. While there isn't an exact format for creating the perfect invitation, there are a few basic expectations.
Invitations should include:
- Name of hosts
- Date, including the day of the week
- Time the party begins and ends
- Purpose of the party
- Theme and dress code
- Location with directions
- Contact information with RSVP instructions
Invitations can be sent through various media platforms, such as Facebook, twitter, email, and traditional mail. The real purpose of invites is two-fold – to invite the people you wish to attend, and the RSVPs. Not only will this give you a rough head count, but it will also give you the opportunity to send additional information, like menu items and music selections for making accommodations at the time of the gathering.
Hosts must meet, greet and direct their guests through the course of the party. They set up each activity and determine the type of music played, the food served and the best time to give toasts and speeches. A key component to being a successful host is your mindset. Clear out your frustrations and set backs before your guests begin to arrive. They can sense if your harried or irritated. Be ready to receive guests at least 15 minutes prior to any arrivals. Don't panic if you forgot something in your planning. Taking a moment to clear your thoughts can improve even the toughest of hosting situations.
Setting the scene
Once everyone has arrived to the party, it is essential that everything comes together with the right settings. Lighting has been proven to affect people's moods. Ensure that all the decorations are appropriate. No one wants a rave party for an adolescent birthday party. Provide guests with the ability to request music. For parties with a wide range of ages, it may be prudent to provide age equivalent activities in specific areas around your home or business. A good example is designating a room or patio for cigar smokers away from the rest of your guests.
The morning after
Of course, the morning after is always the low point of most parties. However, with careful planning before it all begins, cleaning up can be a breeze. Stock up on garbage bags, paper towels, air freshener and other cleaning supplies. This will also be your first chance to assess any damage that may have been done throughout the course of the party. This may also be the time for overnight guests to eat breakfast or return home. Don't forget to remove any signs posted for directions along with balloons and other indications. Aside from the chores of picking up, this is when you should consider thank you cards for gifts, donations, and acknowledgments. You may also want to talk to your neighbor about any problems that may have arose throughout the event.
Christy has been to great parties with live music , hired djs and without music at all. She has been to birthdays, retirement ceremonies, block parties and many other gatherings. Each had its own unique merits, but the final impressions were always left by the guests and the hosts directing them.