Expert's 7 Tips to throwing a GREAT Party!

1. First things first...a GREAT invite!

The best parties starts with an amazing invite.  If you are going to spend all the money to throw a great party, you want the invitation to entice people to come and get them excited to come.  For a speakeasy party I threw, I had beautiful invites held together by sequined feather brooch headbands.  Not only did it look great, the ladies could wear them to the party.  Your invite also will set the theme of your party in advance .  One of my Alice In Wonderland parties had a CD invite that said "play me."  Alice was on the CD with a personalized, recorded, invite message.  The picture below is my invitation for one of my Halloween parties.  The invite was in the egg.  I also make a FB event in addition to my written in.  Another good idea is to send out a save the date card a month and a half before the party.  I did one for my Alice in Wonderland that was also a magnet.  Jaclyn Johnson, from Stylist Blogger Network, blogger from Some Notes on Napkins and owner of No Subject Events said in an interview for Huffpost Style  that having a great invite is so important and a good choice of font is crucial!

2. Simplify your drinks

In the past I had way too many drink options and then was left with TONS of alcohol that took me years to use up.  If you have a bartender this is not a problem, however if you don't, simplify it.
Elizabeth Allen, an event planner with offices in Boston and Manhattan, gave great advice on  "If you can't afford a full bar," says Elizabeth, "have red and white wines and a novelty cocktail."
If you have a party with adults and kids...pick two serve - yourself adult drinks like wine and beer, one premade signature cocktail drink, and some water for non drinkers. For kids, make one premade drink of fruity lemonade or a fun punch recipe with extra juice boxes for back up if you run out. 

3. PLAN B  

Always have a plan B, even if you live in a sunny, warm climate.  You never know when the weather could change.  I live in New England and find the weather to be so unpredictable, so this is a must! "Even if you are expecting warm, wonderful weather, ALWAYS have a rain plan! And, if you plan for your party to go on into the night, you may also need heaters." Mindy Weiss wrote in Marie Claire.  Mindy is one of the most sought after event planners and lifestyle experts in the United States,  
                                                  This Plan B is not the best...but it works. :) 

4. Ambiance

Your theme, decor and lighting is so important.  Lighting can make or break a party.  I can't imagine how my Hogwarts night sky in my Great Hall (see picture below) would have looked with out the twinkling candles hanging from the ceiling and the blueish swirling light for the sky I had.  If you are throwing a swanky adult party that is outdoors, a bright porch light versus blue and purple lights could make the difference between cool and lame.  Julius Solaris, editor of and author of many party/event books says, "Setting an atmosphere and creating a dramatic first impression is why mood lighting is so vital to any event.  Get the lighting(and sound) right and you are well on your way to creating a dramatic event."  The post I wrote on the adult Alice In Wonderland theme party shows how important the lighting is in creating the Wonderland ambiance.  As Julius stated, sound, or music is another important ambiance setter and will help with your theme.  Why a theme?  Because themes are so much fun and sets your party apart.  Think about it, would you rather go to a birthday party at someone's house with basic cake and beer or go to a Mad Men themed birthday party with a dance floor and martinis.  Decor works together with the lighting to create the atmosphere of your theme.  It can make or break a theme.  When I throw my themed parties, I make a lot of the decor, but some I have to rent (like a tent or dance floor), and some things I buy.  You should see my organized party supply basement! The more decorations you can make the better and the most cost efficient. 

5. Food

Food will keep your guests happy and hanging around longer.  Always have more rather than less food.  If you have to er on a side...go for more.  If your party is not near a meal time, have hors d'oeuvres and or a dessert bar.  The way you display your food or desserts is so important.  Think of all the beautiful party posts on Pinterest...many of the pictures are of beautifully displayed food with a beautiful backdrop.  Bring a few small theme elements into your display on your food table.  Not only is the appearance of your food important to look appetizing, but the table decor as well.  Know your guests and always have food allergy options or take safety into consideration for those with severe food allergies.   Chef Ina Garten from the Bare Contessa on the Food Network, and cookbook author says, "The key is the final step."  There are a lot of steps you can do a day before or two days before." Fo example, lasagna can be totally made and assembled the day before.  Put it in the refrigerator and pull it out ahead and bake it in the oven just before the party starts.  Time it so that you pull it out right when it is time to eat.

6. Capture the memory

A photographer or videographer is great, but not always worth the money, unless it is a wedding.  You can have a friend take pictures or you can take pictures yourself.  You can have disposable cameras on the tables for others to capture memories and then you develop it later.  You can have a photo area.  At one of my parties, I made an old fashion Photo Booth  instead of spending an arm and a leg to rent one.  I will post a DIY on that in a later post.  My guest's loved it.  Always have props and a great backdrop.  You can get all of your party guest's emails and post a google doc later for everyone to access with the photos from the event.  Another idea is to use Instagram.  At my 40th Speakeasy party we had a hashtag on chalkboard signs all over the party so that everyone could post and share their instagram photos of the party. Isaac Gube wrote a great article on photography tips for a DIY photographer .  

                                          The photo booth for my daughter's Cowgirl Party

7. Have fun!

I love parties and am Ms. Extrovert, however, I can not count the amount of parties that I threw where I was busy the whole time or didn't get to eat or stayed in the kitchen.  I have learned to either have your event catered, or food delivered or if you are on a budget, have everything made way in advance so you can just pull it out and not worry.  What does expert Swedish-born New York based event planner Linnea Johansson have to say? According to she says: "The key to any great party is for the host to have as much fun as the guests." Linnea runs Events Plus Food and is the author of Perfect Parties: Tips and Advice from a New York Party Planner.  


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