Are you a hostess with the mostest? Or do you dread hosting anything and everything and avoid it at all costs because of how labour intensive it is both physically and mentally? I’m a bit of both - I absolutely love party planning, and even more so, love bringing great people together to share their stories, connect and have a few laughs. BUT, the key word here is ‘planning’. I often ‘plan’ the decor, food options, guests, venue and activities in my head, and feel like it’s going to be easy to pull off. No problem. I’ll whip this party up in no time; however, as the event date creeps closer, I start to panic and realize how much work I have ahead of me with very little time.
Don’t let a little hard work get in the way of doing what makes you happy. Life is truly about sharing moments with loved ones and it’s not easy; life gets busy and priorities often take precedence over pastimes. Make time for your people. Have your cake and eat it too. Just plan accordingly and you’ll be just fine.
Here are a few tips I have to give you confidence in planning that event - it will be worth it in the end. Your efforts will be appreciated and you will all be beaming from those feel-good vibes you get when spending time with people you love. Don’t let fear stop you! You can do this!
Tip #1: Give yourself plenty of time if you can. However much time you think you will need, add another two weeks onto that. Giving yourself extra time will allow you to take your time and enjoy the process of planning without the timeline driving fear into your soul.
Tip #2: Start small. If this is your first time hosting, keep it small and simple. Do a brunch with a few friends or family members and move up from there.
Tip #3: Write out a timeline with appropriately placed ‘to do’ lists and stick to it. Do NOT procrastinate. Many of these tasks will take less than a half hour of uninterrupted time.
This is the timeline I use:
1. Create guest list.
2. Book/decide venue that will accommodate the size of your party. I often hold small intimate gatherings in my home and send my family away so we have the place to ourselves.
3. Send out a Save the Date as far in advance as you can. I do this even with small gatherings because people have busy lives! Then, create and send invitations with an rsvp date in the next two weeks. This will give you time to harass those lazy indecisive friends who ignore your response deadline. Also have guests declare any food allergies/preferences so you can factor that into your meal planning.
4. Plan the food. Potlucks are great if you’d like to be kind to your wallet. Instead of it being a free for all and ending up with 6 fruit trays, give your guests options to choose from and have them decide ASAP. Super simple. Always purchase the food the day before the event so it’s fresh, but not so fresh that you’re still sweating from running around like a maniac at the grocery store an hour before guests are set to arrive. A few of my favourite non-traditional party foods are a warm spinach salad, baked croissant French toast, and a crockpot vegetarian chilli.
5. Decide on activities. I find having a few games planned breaks up the evening and gets people out of their shell. Be sure to get familiar with the rules before the event so that is runs smoothly and no one gets bored while you try and figure it out. I have also done seasonal activities such as cookie and ornament decorating at Christmas, and positive affirmation boxes on Mother’s Day. (Yes, I plan a Mother’s Day party with my mom-friends because as heart-warming as cereal in bed with cold coffee and a homemade card is, we deserve a little more).
6. Decide on decor. Something as simple as a fresh floral bouquet, some fancy napkins and paper plates can be enough if you’re hosting in your home. A little pennant banner or garland can also go a long way. I try to purchase decor items that can be reused and/or repurposed so I’m not just throwing cash in the trash at the end of the night.
7. Check over everything to ensure you haven’t forgotten any important details, and always remember that if you did forget something, it’s ok! Everyone will understand and most likely won’t remember.
Cheers to you! You’ve planned a party! I hope these little tips and simple checklist will help shake any party planning jitters you might have had and give you the confidence to get excited about hosting your next event!