Friday 2 November 2012

Hosting the Perfect Party

Who loves a party? Everyone, it's fact. That is, if its directed at the right people, well thought out, organized and catered to the guest's needs. Here's a few considerations when hosting the perfect party.

"Woooo! This party is going to knock the house down!"
 "I wonder who planned it all out."

Plan in advance
Giving yourself plenty of time to think, organize, confer with friends and confirm details with any caterers or suppliers can prevent any forgetting anything. Caterers and suppliers too, depending on their busy seasons may require an advance of months to reserve. Consider your guests too. As a general rule of thumb, the more formal your event, the more advance. Formality generally means more effort, money and complexity; all this takes time on your part, your guests and companies you may deal with.

Party Committee
For large events where guest counts exceed the tens it doesn't take long for a one-person committee to get overwhelmed. Managing a whole crew of helpers to designated tasks will lighten your technical involvement, freeing up time for oversight. Also, having a diverse group of reliable people can bring creative solutions and a fresh perspective to the table when problem solving or if you find yourself in a rut. Be sure to enforce that your decisions are trump, you have a purpose to fulfil.

The first discussion your party planning committee should have distinguishes  the purpose of your party. Are you trying to raise money for a future wedding? Are you showing appreciation for your employee's good efforts? The purpose will largely determine your entertainment, theme and layout, it is the guideline to designing your party. Once the purpose is set, most frills will fall into place.

There doesn't seem to be too many times when doing your homework is a bad thing. Thoroughly done, it can bring realistic ideas, costs and the nitty gritty details. Relevant keywords in any search engine quickly draws up an infinite amount of ideas.

Just remember to keep any ideas relevant to your purpose. Mechanical bull riding is an entertaining attraction to have for a cowboy party, but you may find it takes away from the Christmas theme of your corporate lunch.

Start with your purpose and let it guide you to your theme. If your purpose is a Buck and Doe to fund your upcoming wedding, then to make the most possible money would be good. How can we gear our theme for guest charity? Well, casinos make a lot of money and playing games can add an element of fun before they donate their winnings. Creativity will bring out the best in your party. So be sure to spend some time tossing ideas around.

Now if you've got a theme. You're definitely going to need some decorations. If  you have the decorations already, Great! If you do not then don't forget the problem with seasonal or one time decorations, the storage space all other 11 months of the year. So take a hard look at your storage capabilities. Not enough room for more junk? You should probably think about renting decorations or finding a decorator that already owns what you need.

If I had my way, every party would be a costume party. I'd be constantly building a new outfit for the next big throw down. Unfortunately, my Dracula costume didn't bode well at the last Thanksgiving. Remember there is a time and place for costumes. Themed parties are great for costumes. Also, not everyone enjoys dressing up as much as you do. It can take quite a long time to prepare a good costume and not everyone has that time. A great way to entice people into high quality costumes is attractive prizes for best costume, team costumes, scariest costumes and funniest costumes.

Consider a few variables with respect to event location:
 Its nice to be close to your event location. A quick commute and you're already familiar with local business that you may be relying on. This will shorten the time you spend picking up decorations and food supplies. A further location may complicate transportation if you need to do multiple trips or heavier delivery fees (should you choose that avenue).
When deciding the location, consider the capabilities of the venue. Amount of bathrooms, square footage and hall width will affect guest capacity and limit layout.
Foot traffic implications are always good to hold in mind. High volume attractions like kegs don't belong at the end of a narrow hall, it will seize people flow right up. Thirsty people eagerly want a refill. Those sipping on full drinks can't understand why there's a line to get out of the line. You can see how attitudes differing over line etiquette and invasion of personal space could irritate guests' mood and dampen party's atmosphere. So when you think about how you want your tables laid out, where the bar should go etc. Think about how people will get where they want to go.

How many guests you pick is easy. Start with your space requirements, budget and remember to look at the type of party your having. How much money do you want to spend on food and beverages?
If dinner and drinks are your only expense per guest:

Budget = $500
Location: My backyard, seats up to 30 people comfortably around card tables
Dinner and Drinks= $20/person
$500/$20 = 25 People
25 People will fit comfortably, easy!

The hard part will be deciding which friends to invite. Which friends will mingle and get along, which ones may cause a ruckus if you've decided on the open bar. If it is a work party then you're already committed to inviting everyone at the office. If you've narrowed your crowd down to a specific theme, it can make choosing your entertainment easier.

Now that you know who is coming to your party, you can find suitable entertainment. If your guests are similar in any way, this should be easy too. Bachelors party with all guys? Think scandalous. Baby shower with only girls? Think cute baby outfits and videos of kittens. Work party with all the employees? Maybe a comedian with material based on workplace interactions. Wedding? A band with style and a set list of songs that make you want to jump and celebrate!

Facebook invites are not always enough. As you're probably well aware, most people individually mail out invitations for formal events like weddings. The perfect opportunity to ask questions to all your guests. Questions like "Turkey, Fish or Veggie?" "Wine or beer or both!?" are common in RRSPs. Getting as much info as you can simplify or change your plans (hopefully for the better).

Outside help

When you've got the space, but your Tupperware wont cut it for your wedding reception it may be time to think about some outside help.

Your local rental store can help you out here. Tables, chairs, plates, cutlery, and glassware are common items. Your outdoor event might need a tent and heater. Each rental company is different and you must speak with them to see what they have to offer.

You can skip the rental companies by calling event planners and caterers. Planners and caterers often prefer certain companies and will deal with their preference for you.

Catering for some is a luxury, others, a requirement. Use your purpose and guest list as a guide. Consider that even caterers have their markets. Some specialise in smaller venue, casual meal. Others in the finer plates that don't come with a side of fries. Don't be afraid to ask them what their preference is, in the long run they would be glad you did.

Being a good host and managing the crisis
When it comes to the big day of your party, you're all set up and guests are arriving. The fun doesn't end there. You have to be a vigil overseer, an effective manager and a pleasant host. If something goes awry, you have to be there to be crisis management. Thinking on the spot, solving the problem quickly to the best of your ability could keep your party from falling apart. Its a delicate balancing act, because you must tend to your guests as well. Make an appearance or speech, find some way to give your guests some acknowledge them, as groups and as individuals. At the very least, greeting and thanking your guests for coming can make a guest really feel they belong.

Your event wont last forever. It will come time to begin cleaning up after the guests have left and the music is dulled. To vividly remember the day hire a photographer to capture all the memorable moments. You can upload the pictures to your computer, print them off, show them on Facebook, send them to your friends, whatever you'd like. You don't have spend big dollars either. Disposable cameras strategically placed around the party for anyone to use could mean fresh perspectives on a lower budget. Evidence of the night will serve as a friendly reminder many years down the road.

Clean up.
The clean up is a part of the process we cannot avoid. Its far from my favourite pass time, but I like to think of the process as returning to the status quo. Its a good reminder that we can't spend every night doing crazy eventful things and we must return to life's normal speed so we can appreciate the next chaotic happening. Cleaning up might be as simple as taking the table cloths off and returning the fine china to the cabinet. It could be as disturbing as peeling dried vomit from the floor (Eww). Whatever your clean up, there's always a reason to enjoy it for yourself, is up to you to find it. The same should be said about your party as a whole.

With thorough planning, good organization, appropriately used creativity and a passion for social gathers your well on your way to hosting the perfect party. I expect if you attend to these processes when planning your party, you will also find more enjoyment when it comes to the big day.

Have fun and happy planning.


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