Do Something Different

Parties do not need to be super-spectacular blowouts or even related to a birthday, holiday, or other celebration - in fact, a casual "anytime" or "just because" small get-together party is often more relaxed by offering you and your guests something out of the ordinary.

All in all, the kind of party you host will depend a lot on you. What type of party do you want to have? What kind of person are you? What type of social gatherings do you feel most comfortable in? The following is a short list of tips that can assist you in planning a party in your own home. As such, it is not intended to cover all party and event situations, but this information should set you in the right direction. Just give yourself plenty of time to get things in order. So, let's start planning!


1. Type of Party & Reason


The right theme for the party can affect your guest's perception and attitude from the moment they are invited and, as stated above, does not need to be a holiday, birthday, graduation, shower or other sort of celebration, but just a reason to get-together.

With such "just because get-togethers" the theme need not be anything too extravagant. Since food is always needed at parties - dinners / brunches, or simpler barbeque / crawfish boils can provide you and your guests with something just as nice to look forward to and, as such, the food, itself, can be the theme. However, this does not need to be the case; simple finger foods such as sandwiches, chips and dips, pizza or even a pot-luck in which each guest is asked to bring a covered dish (whether it be a dessert, entrée or side dish) can keep guests happy while other activities are planned to help spark new insights and discussions towards keeping things interesting.

For small groups - gaming parties can be an easy way of getting people together for some fun, and whether it's a card, board, or video game, make sure all the people you invite can join in. Movie parties, in which videos, DVD's, etc. are shown, can be good if you know everyone's movie taste, or if you wish to expose your guests to something new that you think they'll enjoy. Of course, live entertainment (depending on the entertainer and the sort of entertainment you select) can present something fun, exciting and / or thought-provoking for your guests to talk about for a long time to come. These activities can become the theme.



2. Date and Length


Select a time of the year that suits your event properly. It's important that you choose a date and time that will not conflict with other events (holidays, etc.) that might hinder the attendance of your guests. Depending on your personality and that of your attendees, two to three hour parties are more than adequate, while others prefer to let the event wind itself down. Weekends are most popular, of course, since the majority of people have more free time away from work. However, it's occasionally difficult to end the party when you desire, especially if the location is your home. Weeknights and Sundays are good if you wish an easy way to set a limit on the length of the party, since most people have to get to work the next day (likewise, the turnout may not be as good as what you might desire). However, weeknight parties can be good around major holidays, as the competition with other functions is held to a minimum.

Fact: Most events take place on a Saturday (late afternoon into the evening) and at a time of the year when the weather is most pleasant.



3. Decide Your Budget


Even the smallest parties will entail some expense, so be sure to consider this when planning. Some of the things that you may incur cost with might include: invitations and mail costs, any equipment needed (i.e. extra tables, chairs, etc. that can't be borrowed), decorations, food and beverages, entertainment, as well as extra expenses like cleaning supplies should not be forgotten.



4. Book Your Needs


After you know if any extras are called for, whether it's booking equipment rentals, other services (such as entertainers) or having specially printed invitations, do it now.



5. Prepare the Guest List


attendance you can have will depend upon the amount of space you have available.) Then, depending on the party, you may want to limit your list to close friends, family, business relations, a mixture of the aforementioned, or to have a party where everyone knows each other by first name. However, it's also a good idea if you select people who get along with each other. Inviting the wrong people can turn your well-planned party into a disaster. Don't forget some people may want to bring a significant other, or in some instances, children. You should make it clear if the guest you are inviting can extend the invitation, or if the invite is only for the recipient.



6. Send the Invitations


Invitations can be as formal as engraved cards and announcements, or as simple as an e-mail or phone call. The choice is yours and will be a reflection on the type of party you are having. You should include the date, time, length, location of the party and reason or party theme. Also, you may want to include any special requests that you desire. If you are planning a pot-luck, then make sure you tell your guests that they need to bring a covered dish. If you want to be sure of who is planning to attend, then having your guests R.S.V.P. (even for a casual party) is a good idea.

For the best response, send invitations two weeks before the event is recommended. It has also been noted that if you mail your invitations on a Wednesday, they are more likely to arrive at their destination on Friday or Saturday which, according to some, will give your friends and associates more time to plan for your event on their weekend. Also, they will be less likely to be tossed into a pile of "when I get to it" mail.



7. One Week Before the Party


Confirm your guest list and see if there are any guests who haven't responded to your invitation.

Purchase your beverages, keeping in mind that not everyone chooses to consume carbonated beverages - or for adult-oriented parties, alcoholic drinks - so it is a good idea to keep water on hand.

If you haven't done so already, contact your supermarket and inform them of any party trays or specialty food items they need to prepare in order to ensure availability for pick-up before the party.

Shop for all decorations and purchase any non-perishable supplies needed. Remember, during any party in which there is food, paper napkins and stain removers are good things to have on hand, just in case any accidents were to happen. Also, if you are not planning a formal sit-down dinner, then disposable plates, utensils and cups make clean-up easier.

Complete any heavy cleaning jobs that need to be done.

Decide on and arrange any background music for your party, as it can help liven up the atmosphere and set the mood.



8. A Day or Two Before the Party


Shop for perishable items, including ice; prepare and store any desserts, appetizers, dips, snacks or nuts that can be made in advance. You may also need to start on any dishes that you plan on cooking and that can't be completed the day of the party. If planning a pot-luck, you should also plan for covering forgotten dishes, or food that may not go far enough.

Clean and straighten all of the cluttered areas, as well as dust and vacuum any room where guests will be, paying particular attention to the restroom and kitchen areas. (Note: A cooler or ice chest, complete with ice, will serve to prevent guests from going into the fridge for cold beverages.)

Arrange a room, closet or special area for your guests to keep their jackets, coats, and purses so they will not be forced to hold onto them or face the possibility of misplacing them when the time comes for them to leave.

Also, take the time to set up any indoor decorations that are needed.



9. The Day of the Party


Start on or finish up any food that you need to cook and, if you have not done so as of yet, pick up any food you have on order.

Put out the remainder of the decorations you need, making sure your address is clearly visible for guests that may not be aware of, or had forgotten which house is yours.

Set up the space where the food items will be placed. If using disposable plates, utensils, and cups, make sure that you have a few trash cans that are accessible for guests to make your after-party clean-up easier.

Turn on background music, making sure the volume is loud enough to hear, but not so much that it's a distraction. Just make sure the sound system can be gotten to easily when it needs to be adjusted, or turned off for other activities which the music might negatively affect.

Take between fifteen and twenty minutes to rest and refresh yourself so that you're ready to party and enjoy all the work you've done.

When the doorbell rings, or the first guest knocks, the festivities begin - so, be sure to greet your guests at the door with a smile, as this will help them feel comfortable right away.

Well, that covers the basics of planning a party in your home. Just remember, no matter what sort of party you are hosting, the idea is to make sure your guests feel comfortable and relaxed. A restless host or hostess can destroy the mood. Prepare as much as possible ahead of time so you can relax and enjoy your guests.

The tips listed on this page have been gathered by William Corey from discussions with various party planners, as well as personal discoveries made over the years of performing, participating in, and hosting parties. Hope you have found the tips in this article useful. Happy Planning!



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