|A beautiful bar set up for one of author Danielle Rollins' parties|
We had a successful party last weekend (see my post on the pre-planning effort here) – although nothing turned out as I expected, mainly because of the weather! More on that later….
- Think about who you are inviting, and what will make them most comfortable. Do the guests know each other, or are you bringing together people from different backgrounds and perspectives? What seating/food/table set up makes most sense for the intent of the event. For the event last weekend, the common bond was our 7th grade children, but it is a large grade with many new parents, so there are people who don’t know each other. A stand up reception featuring a light cocktail supper, with a little bit of individual seating, was most appropriate for the size and intent of our function. Also try hard to minimize any situation that might cause discomfort or intimidation during a party.
- Danielle is very big on reusing things, and likes to avoid any purchases for a party that are for just one event. ‘Use what you have, and have what you use’ is one of her mantras. If you plan on entertaining regularly, buy things that you can use for many different kind of parties – often keying the color to work with the environment (the colors you use in your house, or the colors of nature in the yard) are most versatile. Danielle often mixes the high and the low, and often sources party supplies from IKEA and Cost Plus World Market.
|This was our centerpiece for the food table - a pretty potted hydrangea that the party planners gave me as a thank you gift. The cut flowers I purchased have already faded, but this arrangement will last for weeks!|
- Danielle prefers to spend the budget on good food and drink, and not on flowers. She often uses things that are in her garden, or uses potted plants that can be put in a pretty planter and enjoyed for weeks or even months before and after the party.
|Sometimes parties require more elaborate arrangements based on the formality of the event (this picture is from a formal event hosted by Danielle) but even a lower key event can make the bar pretty with candles in hurricane lamps, and a nice tablecloth with whatever you have at home.|
- For a large party like ours, she suggested setting up two bars to minimize wait time for drinks and to encourage party flow. The main bar should be decorated in a special way – perhaps with a set of hurricane lamps with candles (enclosed flames are better for the bar). The secondary bar can be simpler and self-serve. Also nice is to have a few easy but flavorful food items at the bar (like honey roasted peanuts, olives, thick cut chips) as people often like to nibble while waiting for a drink, or while mingling by the bar.
- If the party is going to be indoors, and especially if it is not sit down, try to plan food that is not too greasy or oily and can easily be eaten with a fork or the fingers. Also, when selecting a menu, think about your guests (possible food issues) and try to have your food go well together from a flavor and type perspective. For an event that is a light cocktail dinner, she likes for food to be passed – and the host/hostess are often wonderful food passers as it gives them a chance to interact with many of their guests in an easy manner. It is better to have fewer food choices that are very well prepared and not too fancy, versus many different options and esoteric choices. Also, in Danielle’s experience, guests don’t tend to eat a lot of dessert if there is a meal, so keep the dessert items simple and small – and often it is best to pass dessert or bring it to the table if the guests are seated, otherwise it might not get eaten!
- If your party will be large, it is helpful to clearly mark the powder room with a sign so that people don’t wander around opening up every door trying to find it (I did this and it worked well!).
- If you are using caterers, make sure that everyone knows where the trash is located – what comes in must go out (and parties tend to generate a fair amount of trash). Set up trash cans near the bar and in discrete places, and have a location outside where all the trash can be placed.
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