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Party Like a Pro
We love celebrating at Honey MAP.
Whether it’s a birthday or holiday, fundraiser, wedding, personal or business achievements, we believe in celebrating all of the sweet moments in life. Celebration can take many forms, but one of our favorites comes in the form of a party. Here are our tips on throwing a successful party for any occasion.
Who Should be There?
We like to start with the guest list in mind. What is the purpose of this party, and who will be coming? Once you have your audience in mind (as well as how few/many of them there may be) the rest of the planning can fall into place. Keep a running spreadsheet of your guests to track their RSVPs as well as their mailing (or e-mailing if you’re going modern) information so that you can send invitations and thank-you notes as necessary.
Pro-tip: Planning a party with limited seating? Provide a requested RSVP date from your guests on their invitation. Set a Tier-2 guest list and invite additional guests as space becomes available. Tact is key in this maneuver, but this can help you fill the room without running the risk of a fire hazard.
Timing is Everything
Some events are tied to their event date- major holidays, keeping birthdays on accompanying birthdate weekends, etc. For events that are not tied down, think through the ideal timing. Whether that looks like picking a date that allows for the majority of your guests to attend or if you’re planning an awareness or charity event where you want the topic to be most relevant, start with a date in mind.
Pro-tip: Often venue pricing can vary by day or date. If your event is flexible, you could save money by planning on an off-day. For example, Thursdays are commonly significantly priced down for weddings. Ask your venue to provide a pricing scale for various days and times of the year.
Set the Mood
The next order of business is to pick your theme. Though you could pick a literal theme (we love costume parties), you’ll need to set the mood for your gathering. Is it formal or casual? Is it loud and lively, or calm and conversational? Is it centered on celebrating one person or entity, or to garner audience involvement (think birthday or wedding vs. fundraiser or awareness dinner)?
Pro-tip: Pinterest is excellent for party inspiration and color schemes. Find a source of inspiration and build the rest of your party around that.
Location, Location, Location
If you decide to host at a home or office that you own, will you need to make any décor adjustments to accommodate everyone? Is the event outside? If so, have you checked the weather forecast?
If you choose to host your event through a third party venue, be sure you clarify what is provided. Many venues will provide package deals that will help you consolidate your costs. Make sure you are clear on what is/is not allowed and included, and make copies of every contract you sign.
Pro-tip: One of the biggest hassles with events can be guest parking. Try to inform your guests ahead of time of what they should expect, whether there is available street parking, valet parking or a garage. If your venue validates parking, make sure that information is available to guests as well.
Nom. Nom. Nommy. Nom.
Start by thinking about what type of libations you want. Will people be sitting or standing? If you’re doing a more specific themed party are there types of food or clever names you can incorporate? Is this a more casual or formal dining crowd? Will there be kids? Will there be alcohol? Cash or open bar? Will you need a caterer or will everything be provided through your venue? Are there any guest allergies you will need to consider? Think through your big-picture meal plan and then fill in the timing and quantity details as you have more guest information.
Pro-tip: If you are supplying the food or beverages yourself, try to have as much prepared prior to the event as possible. If your cash bar sales go to paying down the venue fee, create a signature drink. It will generate more buzz. Pun intended.
But What Will We Do?
With the logistics in place, now is the fun part. Is this a more structured event that requires a tight timeline or is it a more casual go-with-the-flow affair? If the former, work with an event coordinator to make sure everyone knows their queues (lights, music, food, speakers, etc). Keep a running list of everyone who is involved in pulling this event off and make sure they are all amply communicated with. If the latter, it’s good to have some activities in the background or in the docket to avoid any uncomfortable lulls. If you’ll have live music, make sure the band is set up and has tested all of the equipment prior to your event. If you’re using an electronic audio system, set your playlist up ahead of time and test it prior to your event.
Expecting kiddos? In the event that this is not an actual kiddo party but there will be kiddos at the event, set out some small tables with coloring books, puzzles and games to keep them occupied, or have a G-rated movie and some kid snacks picked out ahead of time.
Pro-tip: If you want to remember this event, decide how you want to document it. Do you want a hired photographer or videographer? Do you want to encourage your guests to take pictures? If you want to go social, provide your guests with an event hashtag and encourage them to tag any posted photos with that specific tag so you can find them all in one place.
Crossing the T’s and Dotting the I’s
Now that the big planning is set, it’s time to drill down the details. Even the most organized Type-A can lose track of an event. Keep a folder (whether physical or electronic) that houses all of your event information. Typically this will include:
- Event Details (location, date/time, etc)
- Contact information (for every vendor involved- it’s extremely helpful to keep this all in one place)
- Guest List with RSVPs
- Activity and Music Playlists (if applicable)
Final Pro-Tip: Always, always have a Plan B. Because life loves curveballs.
After the music fades and the glitter has been swept away, send your guests a signed Thank-You note. Then pour yourself a glass of red or white and queue up the Netflix- if you’ve pulled off a party, you’ll be in need of some R&R Recovery.