HOW TO THROW A GREAT PARTY AT HOME
There are so many occasions in life where there is the opportunity to throw a fantastic party at home. Birthdays, bridal showers and baby showers are just some of life’s momentous occasions where a backyard party is a perfect way to celebrate with your loved ones.
Planning a party at home doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful, here are my top tips to make sure your party goes to plan and most of all as the host you get to have as much fun as all of your guests.
“Organization is key to make hosting a breeze.”
Now this might seem like a lot of things to do but I’m someone who loves to plan and host a party and I grew up with my mother being the hostess with the mostess! I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work and while I can’t guarantee the weather or the guests will behave, I can assure you if you follow these steps you’ll throw a great party and have time to enjoy it!
PICK A DATE AND TIME
When trying to find a date and time for your party plan this around what works for you as the host, the person being celebrated, and those in the inner circle.
CHOOSE YOUR THEME
This of course isn’t necessary but it can really help with decisions down the track if you have a theme in mind.
Does the birthday person have a favourite meal that you want to cook? A favourite cocktail? A favourite city? All of these can make amazing themes and help dictate any decorations, music and food.
WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
Are you paying for the entire party? Is it something a group of people are contributing too? Are you hosting a pot luck where everyone will be bringing a plate of food? Once you have your budget, make a list of the items that you need for the party, food, drinks, decorations, furniture etc and prioritise these items. In an ideal world all of these are equally important but the budget doesn’t always allow for that. One you have the list of items you need to purchase estimate the cost of each
This should be easy but it never is. There are two main things to consider when making your guest list. How many people can comfortably fit into your space for the style of event that you want to have? And how many people can you afford to feed with your budget?
For an informal get together a text message or facebook event is acceptable these days, but for a special occasion I still love a personalised invitation. Paper invitations can be costly however they can be easily made on apps like Canva (canva.com) and printed at home. Another great alternative is online invitations Paperless Post (www.paperlesspost.com) is a fantastic website for this. They have loads of templates, you’ll be sure to find one suitable for your event and how great is this, your guests can rsvp and receive updates via their email address.
(Invitation “Miss Out – Antique Rose” Kate Spade New York via Paperless Post)
If you’ve ever been to a party where you really need to sit down to eat but there aren’t enough tables and chairs, or outside during a cool winter afternoon you’ll know that these things can really ruin an otherwise great party. If you need to borrow some tables or chairs from friends or neighbours, hire extra furniture, or gather some spare blankets make sure you organise this in early. You don’t want to be running around the week of your party trying to find someone who can bring 5 more chairs.
(Image via Pinterest – original source unknown)
This can add up to a costly part of your event so keep it simple. This is where having selected your theme will really help! Are you having a Mexican fiesta (need a pinata?), or are you working to a colour theme? Of course I love styling an event with flowers!! For a sit down meal I like a vase of flowers on each table. For a more cocktail style I like some feature vases around the space, a vase for the bar area and something small for tables where platters are going. If you’re ordering decorations, balloons, flowers etc make sure you get onto this early and if you’re having party items sent to you, be sure to allow plenty of time for shipping and delays.
(Birthday Lunch at Chiswick Restaurant – Styling by Clementine and Rose)
(Private Lunch – Styling by Clementine and Rose)
PLAN YOUR MEAL
This may have started when you picked your theme but now is the time to get it finalised. While planning your food make sure you think about drinks too. A great idea to help make a small party feel really special is to create a signature cocktail which can be made in a carafe or large glass drink dispenser.
Once your menu is finalised be sure to write it down along with a list of grocery items that you’ll need for each recipe you will be making. Be sure to include your pantry staples in this list! You may have the items when you make the list but use them before your party and if you’re anything like me you might forget to check your recipe again and when you go to make your special salad you realise you’re out of soy sauce and have to rush out of the shops 30 minutes before your guests are due to arrive! That’s added stress that no host needs!
Now this may not seem like a big deal but do you have enough plates and cutlery for your guests? Are you going to buy some biodegradable plates for the event? With this I also consider if I’m going to use tablecloths, Which if I’m using odd borrowed or plastic trestle tables I always use matching table clothes, it helps bring a cohesive look to your space.
This one doesn’t have to be hard and again is dictated by your theme and also your guest list. Background music is great for any event and with apps like Spotify it’s so easy to either create your own in advance or just search for one that’s applicable to your event. For a birthday I love finding hits from the year the birthday person was born to play in the background. Do you want to organise any games? For a Birthday party you could set up a game of croquet, Finska (a favourite in my family) or even a game of twister! There are so many ideas on Pinterest for games for different parties, you’ll be sure to find some that you and your guests will like.
(Image via Pinterest – original source unknown)
Now it’s time back to your grocery list. Before you go to do your shopping check your pantry for any items you already have, I myself have forgotten this many times and ended up with several half opened packets of pine nuts! Another thing I always do to help make the grocery shop easier is split the list into sections the way you shop.
My list will be split into stores eg; green grocer, local butcher, supermarket. Then with my supermarket list I will split it up again into sections; dairy, sauces/marinades, grains, cleaning products etc (yes check you have everything you need to clean your house before your party!) This may seem like a lot of work but when you’re running around your local supermarket you’ll be happy that you don’t have to keep running back to the dairy section because you had three different cheese items all over your list.
PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE!
You’ve just stocked up on your cleaning essentials so time to get the house clean, this can be done the day before your party. If you’re hosting outside tidy up your garden area, sweep any leaves off your patio and set up any tables, chairs etc for the next day. Inside clean the areas you’re guests are going to be in. If you’re not having guests in bedrooms no need to go overboard cleaning those, stick to your kitchen, bathroom, living area etc. Doing a proper clean the day before means you just have to keep the areas tidy until everyone arrives the following day.
Go over your menu again, are there things you can prepare the night before? Can your dessert be made and put in the fridge? Can salads be pre cut ready for dressings the following day? How much you can prepare will depend on your menu but if you really want to enjoy the gathering and stay out of the kitchen as much as possible pre prepare as much as you can!
Another thing to do the night before is to get all of your crockery, serving plates, utensils and glasses prepared. If you have a table you can use to stack all of these on it will make your day of cooking much easier. You’ll have already decided which bowl your salad is going into and have enough utensils to serve everything.
I always start the day by setting up any decorations around the party area, flowers, balloons etc. If you’re having a sit down meal, set your table ready for guests.
Since you’ve prepared as much of the food in advance as you can you’ll certainly be spending less time in the kitchen today. But the obvious next step is to finalise any cooking that you need to do.
Now you can enjoy the party and the praise for having such a well organised event!