Party Planning Tips

Read these 13 Party Planning Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Party tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How can I stay organized as I plan my party?

Online Party Planning Guides Help

If you are looking for party planning guides, the experts are there for you.

There are many online that are designed to help you through each stage of the party planning process. Do an online search of party Web sites and you'll find guides for budget, guest list, decorations, seating, beverages and even sample timelines for event happenings to keep you on schedule.

There are also books dedicated to perfecting the perfect party, books such as "Clever Party Planning" by Suzeanne Singleton and "Diane Warner's Big Book of Parties: Creative Party Planning for Every Occasion" by, you guessed it, Diane Warner. Check your local book store or online retailer to buy one that you can refer to throughout your entire planning process and then lend to a friend in need when it's her turn.

   
What are my options for sending out party invitations?

Which Way of Sending Party Invitations Suits You Best?

Whether you are planning a surprise party, theme party, graduation party, baptism, bar mitzvah, holiday party, business party or anniversary party, your first order of business is to invite people. There are three ways -- and endless possibilities within those ways -- in which you can choose to do your invitations. Which way of sending out party invitations suits you best?

1. Electronically. Log on to online invitation sites to send electronic invitations and keep track of who is responding yes or no. You can also send thank you notes through evite once the party is over.

2. If you'd rather send the traditional paper invitation, there are many companies that offer a plethora of designs for any and every party type imaginable.

3. Your other option is to buy some cardstock and get out the glue, scissors and ribbon and make a handcrafted invitation yourself. There are many Web sites online that can help you in the inspiration department.

Keep in mind that your invitation should match your event. If it's a very formal event, then a formal invitation is warranted. If it's casual, then a simple evite may do.

Experts say invitations should be sent out eight weeks in advance or as close to that as you can come. Consider sending "save the date" cards up to three months before your event if you are concerned about guest's calendars booking up (for example, for a summer event).

Include the following information:

  • Name of the host giving the party
  • The purpose of the party
  • Name of honoree
  • Day and date of party
  • If a formal event, include the year and spell it out
  • Time ("6:00 p.m." would be accurate for casual events and "six o'clock in the evening" for formal events)
  • Name of place
  • Location of place (include city and state if there areĀ out-of-town guests but do not include zip code)
  • Appropriate attire if it might be an issue
Don't forget to proofread several times and even have a friend read it over.

   

Listen Up: Be a Great Conversationalist

If you're at a party and have nothing to say, take a genuine interest in other people. Be a polite listener. Ask tactful questions about things you'd like to know more about. "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you," wrote Dale Carnegie in his 1936 classic, "How to Win Friends & Influence People." Of course, it pays to be up on current events, but learning to make good conversation also hinges on being genuinely interested in others.

   

Always Be Prepared to Party

Start collecting basic supplies now so you can concentrate on invitations and food for your next party. Watch for sales on these essentials: Ice bucket and tongs, place cards, a cutlery stand, tablecloths, serving platters, cute olive forks and cheese ball servers, bar glasses and wine glasses, extra cutlery, candles, chip-and-dip bowls, a punch bowl, and cloth or paper napkins. Purchase plain, white dinnerware that you can dress up or down for any party. Store all these essentials together to make party-planning a breeze.

   
What's hot in stationery/party invitations right now?

Follow The Hot Trends in Stationery to Make Your Invitations Pop

As you're trying to decide which party invitations to choose for your upcoming soiree, consider the hot trends in paper at this year's National Stationery Show (NSS). The following are some of the highlights.

  • Lines are crisp, fonts are clean and colors are refined
  • Polka dots and stripes are in
  • Hounds tooth, paisley, damask, plaid and gingham are hot
  • Letterpress and glitter are still trendy
  • Embellishments such as crystals, used sparingly, are still used for creating a greater effect
  • Personalization is very popular -- monograms, initials and first and full names in any combination

   
What should I keep in mind when serving food at a home party?

The Logistics of Serving Food at a Home Party

You've decided to host the bash at your house and have put a lot of planning into the right foods for your buffet. But don't forget the logistics like crowd control, trash, beverages, and utensils.

Here are some party planning tips when it comes to food, courtesy of The Food Network:

  • For an informal party, keep things simple. Purchase snacks like chips, salsa, nuts, cold cuts, bread, and prepared salads
  • Before you go shopping, clean out your fridge to make room for all those prepared foods and make-ahead dishes.
  • They're your friends; feed them right. Incorporate healthy dishes based on fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • If you are serving buffet-style, then you'll want to plan a little crowd-control -- spread things out
    on small platters with the sides and meat pre-sliced.
  • There's no need to foot the bill for the wine as well as the food. Make it a BYOB
    and ask your guests to bring wine, beer or soda.
  • Make well placed and clearly marked areas for trash.
  • Have plenty of ice on hand.
  • Set and dress your table before your guests arrive.
  • Get creative: use water glasses for crudités, breadsticks, and even flowers.
  • Wrap utensils (either plastic or silver) in napkins and place them in a basket for your
    guests to easily grab and hold.
  • Keep plastic bags and containers on hand to pack up leftovers for your guests.

   
How do I begin planning a graduation party?

How to Begin Planning a Graduation Party

The first thing you need to do to plan a graduation party is decide what type of party you and your graduate want to have. Let your party reflect your graduate and don't be afraid to be different. Options include:

  • An open house with a few people
  • An open house with a lengthy guest list
  • An intimate dinner
  • A themed party
  • A daytime party
  • A nighttime party
  • A celebration on the weekend
  • A celebration during the week
  • A celebration at home
  • A celebration at a restaurant, park, club, hall, beach, etc..
Involve your graduate in the brainstorming process. After all, the party is her him or her. Here are some questions you may want to ask your graduate:

  • What kind of graduation party did you have in mind?
  • Would you rather invite just close family and friends or do you want a large party?
  • Would you mind having a joint party with a friend or neighbor?
  • Do you have any ideas for a theme?
  • What kind of food would you like served?
  • Would you like to select photos and items to display?

   
What should I consider when hiring a party planning professional?

Hiring a Party Planning Professional

If the party you are planning is very large or you are just lacking the time to plan a party at this point in your life, you might want to consider hiring a professional party planning business for help. These skilled experts know how to handle all facets of your upcoming party and can take the burden off your shoulders.

Here are some tips for hiring a party planning professional:

  • Ask for referrals from friends, colleagues, caterers and local businesses. Set up appointments for consultations.
  • Scope out the Better Business Bureau before hiring a party planning business to see if any complaints have been made against that business.
  • Interview prospects. Ask how many events like yours the planner has done in the past. Ask for her creative ideas. Ask how she troubleshoots and handles mishaps.
  • Consider his or her track record. Every event planner worth his or her weight has a portfolio.
  • List the tasks you want taken off your shoulders.
  • Discuss whether you will be billed by the event, by the hour or as a percentage of the total cost of the party. Talk about how willing you are to go over budget.
  • If it would make you more comfortable, call references or drop by an event the professional you are considering is conducting in the near future to scope out the scene.
  • Jot down your ideas, theme, color considerations, entertainment preferences, and anything you feel you want personalized for your professional.
  • Once you hire someone, let go. If you micromanage that person, you might as well have saved the money and done it all yourself. Keep in mind that the purpose of your hired professional is to ease the burden on yourself.

   
How can I help my inebriated guests get home safe after my party?

Keeping Your Guests Safe

Party planning involves more than color scheme, food choices and entertainment decisions. If you are serving alcohol, you must also take responsibility for helping your guests get home safely when they leave your event.

Here are some tips for keeping your guests safe on the way home after they've drank a few too many alcoholic beverages at your party:

  • Remind your guests to designate a driver for the evening if they plan to drink and make sure you provide a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for those designated drivers at your party. Some restaurants and other party venues may even offer free non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers.
  • Find out if your area has an organization dedicated to driving inebriated individuals after events and what you would have to do to hire them.
  • Allow guests with no safe way home the option to spend the night at your home if that is where the party was held
  • Be prepared with the number of your local taxi service so you can call one upon your impaired guest's departure
  • Do not have a party that offers alcohol without any food -- there should be a balance of food and beverages. It's also a good idea to offer coffee.
  • Collect car keys at the beginning of the night so you can be the judge of whether someone gets behind the wheel of a car at the end of the night
  • If you fear a guest will argue with you that he or she is OK to drive, invest in a personal alcohol detector so guests can check their alcohol level -- and save themselves from an embarrassing DUI or life-threatening car accident
  • Hire a bus or van that can take guests home (if they are local) or back to a hotel after your event

Party planning includes more than just setting up party decorations and hiring good musicians and caterers. It includes making sure your guests have a way home if they've drank alcohol. Take the time to set up a plan for these individuals, whether it means calling them a taxi, letting them stay overnight or reminding them to designate a driver for the evening.

   

Planning Keeps Things Simple

Stock up now to make your next birthday party easy and fun. A few weeks ahead of time, purchase matching invitations, banners, cups, napkins, plates, and favors. Craft and party stores carry loads of birthday party supplies. One sweet planning perk is that you'll have time to order a cake decorated to match the plates or invitations. Planning and shopping ahead makes party day a snap. So, while it's fresh in your mind, get out pen and paper and make a to-do list for your next birthday party.

   
How can I save money throwing a graduation party?

Ways to Save Money at Your Graduation Party

There are many ways to cut corners when planning a graduation party. Some reports say families spend an average of $1,200 on graduation parties. With a little research, careful planning, penny-pinching, and these party planning tips, celebrating your graduate's accomplishment doesn't have to put you in the poor house. Here are some tips :

  • Consider throwing a joint graduation party with another family member or neighbor. That way, you can split the expenses.
  • Limit your menu to snacks
  • If you are planning a buffet, keep in mind that most people who host graduation parties complain that they ordered too much food. Try to keep your food items to ones that can be frozen and stored afterwards so they don't go to waste. Ask family and friends to make an item for the buffet and it will be less you'll have to buy.
  • Buy paper goods at a seasonal sale

   
What are some unique graduation party ideas for the big day?

Graduation Party Planning Ideas

If you are looking for something different to do at your loved one's graduation party this year, check out these fun ideas from party experts:

For graduation party invitations, how about sending little diplomas or an invitation that reads like a final exam or adding a photo or caricature of the graduate inside the invitation.

Themes: if your graduate knows what college he or she is going to attend in the fall, how about decking the walls with that college's pennants, banners or posters. Or use the college colors as part of your color scheme.

Activities: roasting your graduate. Have a People Magazine poster made of your graduate and put it on an easel in the front of the room. Or make a caricature of your graduate and go to a place like Kinko's to create a large poster of it. Then ask guests to tell fun stories about the graduate and his/her years in school. Or have the graduate's best friend prepare some fun "job interview" questions and set up a mock job interview session at the party.

Decorations: honor your graduate by displaying school awards, photos and trophies.

   
Can I have my child's graduation party in another town, state, country?

Destination Graduation Parties

You've heard of destination weddings. Well there are also destination graduation parties. For the family that wants to celebrate their graduate's successes somewhere else, there are packages available that help with the planning. Of course, your guests are going to have to have the desire and funds to travel to your party. You may want to do a quick survey of how many people can actually make the trip before you plan it. Perhaps it will only be close family.

There are banquet halls all over the world that will help you plan a graduation party in their town. They'll help you hire caterers, decide on decorations and help arrange lodging for your family. So if you have the funds to do it and want to experience a family trip with your graduate before he goes off to college or "the real world," there are plenty of ideas and support systems in place to help you.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Susan Sayour