One of the best things about the holidays is the parties. Whether you are hosting one or attending one, they are fun but they are a lot of work. I personally love hosting parties and now that my husband and I have our own home, I am really looking forward to this holiday season. I have hosted parties before but not in my house. But because I have hosted before, I am feeling confident getting ready for these parties will be easy since the systems are already in place.
Party planning does not happen overnight. It is about a two week process from my experience for a simple potluck or dinner party. We have two parties we are hosting this year. The Serar Family Potluck and Christmas Day Dinner on my side of the family, which is sit down dinner that is also a potluck. I have to admit since both are potlucks, my job got a little easier but there is still planning involved and work. I start with my planner that I designed to have all the information in one location. I have discovered that any time you are in charge of planning or organizing any type of gathering or event having a checklist and a plan are essential. The planner sheets are just an extension of that designed to keep everything in one location and easily accessible.
Make Sure to Check Your List…Twice
I ask myself a few questions every time I plan a party, although for a Holiday party some are pretty straight forward. When is the best time to have our party? Do I want a theme like a cookie exchange for the holidays or just go traditional? Is it potluck or will I be providing all the goodies? Where do I want to have this party – our house or out somewhere? Who do I want to invite? Is there a strict budget?
Since I ask most of these questions every party, they have now made it on to my checklist. You’ll find your own unique questions that may need to be considered such as “is this an adult only party or are little ones invited too?” “If they are, do I need entertainment for them or someone to be responsible for them?” You can add them to the bottom of the checklist as they pop up. And as you go through the planning and prepping for the party, you can check things off as you go.
Let Yourself Get Inspired
If I am planning a party, whether it is one I plan every year or a new one, I look for inspiration to make it unique and fun. Personally I love perusing Pinterest for party ideas such as themes, dishes to serve or even a clever way to send an invite. Whether I use them or they inspire something else in me, it helps create the details of the event and also helps answer some of the questions on the checklist. By the way, if you aren’t using it, Pinterest is a great way to save the fun inspiration images you find through out the year without having to collect tons of images on your computer or rips from magazines. When I plan a party, I have printed the images that I have saved from Pinterest that relate specifically to the details I am trying to create in my party. I then put them with my planner sheets so that way I have a fast easy reference.
The Delight is in Details
If you have ever been to a GREAT party, its the little things that add up that make the party go from good to GREAT! If you have been to a bad one, then you also most likely have noticed the details that were forgotten such as something as simple as where is the trash can? I know from my wedding besides everyone saying they had fun, people still talk about the details from the way things were laid out for easy flow to the labels on the drinks and even something as simple as the choice in candies I made for the candy bar. I have been to others that seemed really unorganized and you couldn’t find where things were which as a guest can make it frustrating and not enjoyable. The delight is in the little details and the same is true for any party – wedding, holiday or birthday. Remember that from a guest perspective things need to be simple and designed so they don’t have to do a lot of thinking, which means from your end you should focus on the details.
The holiday planner helps me do this. The checklist lets you mark things off but there are expanded areas that allow you to focus on some of the details. The “Details” and “Invitation Wording” gives you space to start working out some of the details in advance and give your guests an idea of what to expect. For example, for our Serar Christmas Party I used the following wording:
Please Join Us for the Annual Serar Potluck Christmas Party!
Saturday, December 21 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm
123 ABC Road
ABC, CA 12345
Please bring a yummy appetizer or main dish type delectable and something sweet to share with everyone.
Hot cider and coffee to warm your bones and plenty of beer and wine to help you let loose will be here and flowing. BUT if you plan to bring your favorite libation, please remember the Golden Rule…please bring enough to share.
Between the wording and the invitation style itself, guests can tell that the party is going to be a relax and laid back event. They can discern there is no set menu and that a variety of dishes will be there as well as what they are expected to bring. As in any typical invitation, they also know the time, time duration, date and location. This sets the mood and tone of the event and also starts building their expectations.
I use the planner to work out the other details that I have found to be important like creating and tracking my guest list, determining food (which also helps me when I go to shop), the décor and supplies I need like extra trash cans for larger events and to stock up on toilet paper when I know more people will be accessing the facilities than normal. This also lets you plan what tasks will be done ahead of time, what will be done that day before the party and what needs to be done during the party.
Over the next few posts, I will share with you what I do to get ready for a party. But every party starts with the planning I have done above.