Opening your home to guests can be a stressful occasion. Planning a large party can seem as impossible as performing brain surgery. Life can be a party if you learn to Embellish. No matter if you are hosting an intimate party for friends or designing a large event I will share my ideas and tips here. Let me help you take the stress and fear away from hosting parties and make it a fun affair that everyone can enjoy; even you!
I must be honest throwing a party is a skill that takes time to perfect; and I’m not totally sure that you can ever say you throw a completely stress free party. That being said, I have discovered some tips that have considerably reduced my stress level and truly allowed me to throw parties and events and actually have fun doing it. I have to qualify, or my husband and children will kill me, that I was not always calm and Martha Stewartish; for years I resembled a blend of something out of The Exorcist and Amityville Horror. It wasn’t pretty and I am sure I scared my boys for life. Even now that I have honed the skill of stress free parties I still sense a twinge of fear run through all the boys in anticipation of “possessed” Heidi coming back. So, that was my disclaimer, not even I was perfect. Even now I wouldn’t say I had perfected the skill but at least I’m not demonic any more 😉
Here are my Top Ten Tips for a Stress Free Party (in no particular order):
Make a list of everything you want and need to do for the party at least a week in advance. If you are busy or a procrastinator then make the list further in advance.
Stock up on party décor, paper items, service pieces (for all different types of themes). This can be tricky if you have a small space; but if you do you don’t need a lot of extras because you will not be having a party for 60 at your home. So shop and save accordingly… No Hording 😉
Only buy party/entertaining items on sale. If it is not something you will use all the time NEVER pay full price! Craft stores have wonderful party supplies and always mark them down to almost nothing after the holiday, this is the time to buy and save it for next time. It may actually take you a year or even two to get all you want and if you are only using it once or twice a year it is worth the time to get it for a good price.
Remember you notice a lot more wrong with your home then your guests. Spend your time and energy on the main room and bathroom that your guest will be in. A party is not the time to be painting the bedroom or remodeling the study if no one is going to be in there. That goes for extra cleaning. Don’t kill yourself cleaning your teenager’s closet and bedroom if it is not being used for the party.
Write out your menu at least a week in advance. Take advantage of the wonderful pre-made finger foods. I have found great items that get rave reviews from our local Warehouse Store, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. You do not have to give up healthy and diet specific needs either; I have found gluten free, lactose free, and organic pre-made items that taste great. Presentation is everything; you can make veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, and chips and salsa look fantastic with fun service pieces and a few strategically placed decorations. If you love cooking, pick 1 or 2 signature dishes to serve and make the rest easy and/or pre-made. If you are hosting a dinner party where the food is the focus then back off of the décor, focus on the food and let your presentation be your decor. A wonderful centerpiece, fun place cards or creative plates and service pieces are all you need and let the food impress. If you are not a “foodie” at all try picking one or two signature cocktails; many times they make a bigger impression than the food anyway.
Start your cleaning and general prep for the party a day or two early. The less you have to do the day of your party the better everyone is. The day of is not the time to decide on theme décor, menu, cleaning projects, and/or signature cocktail. Leave only food prep and light clean-up for the day of. If you can prep some of the food the evening before, do it. In all my experience and mistakes in throwing parties I find this tip one of the most important in having a stress-free party.
Write out a timeline for the day of the party. Don’t forget to set aside time for you to get ready for your own party. I can’t tell you how many parties I threw with no make-up or wet hair because I didn’t allow for my own prep ;-). I also found writing down a timeline a huge help with staying on task and budgeting your time well. No matter how much you think you can do this in your head, you can’t, trust me. Writing it out in advance with time allowances for everything keeps you calm(er), keeps you on time, let’s you know when you need to just forget something on your list and move on. I love the timeline and even do it for a small get together.
Get out all your service and tableware the day before the event. There is nothing worse than finding out the day of the event that you are short plates, glasses, a platter, or serving utensils. This is bound to mess up your timeline and seriously stress you out.
Pick out your outfit early in the day if not a few days before. The day of your party, lay out your clothes, jewelry and shoes. This is not the day to be trying on 5 total outfits. Don’t try out a new hairstyle, go with the tried and true, and keep it easy and quick. You know I’m right, we always leave getting ready till the end. Even if you use all 10 of my steps there is no guarantee that you will not be behind especially as you are learning. If you have everything ready to go; even if you only have 10 min to get dressed, chances are you can do it if it is all laid out.
If you remember any of the tips first, remember that you and only you know the vision of your party. If you forget something, don’t place a décor piece out, miss cleaning some place, or use the wrong plates no one but you will notice, care, or stress over it; so neither should you. I think this was the hardest lesson I ever had to learn and really the easiest one. Just deep breathe and let it go, “No One Will Notice”… Repeat that often and enjoy your party 🙂
I could go on forever on how to throw a party. Let’s just start with these tips and continue to follow my Event Gallery and I will go over all sorts of other tips, pointers, and money saving hints for parties and events.