* Publisher's note: Lee Gernander wrote this article on June 18, 2004 and we published it on the old site. Lee passed away in March, 2006. He was a dear friend to many and is greatly missed.This article is still timely and relevant and as a tribute to Lee, we will keep this article on the site. Enjoy!
It is hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a party a success. It is a culmination of every detail coming together. Food that people will talk about for days. Decorations that create a magical environment. Guests who will enjoy every aspect of the evening, as well as each other. And a staff that makes sure that every detail is handled without interruption.
As the holiday party season approaches, we are all looking to coordinate the perfect party – the one that sets the standard. But where does one start? How can you ensure the success of your party and make sure that you are still sane enough to enjoy it?
To assist you in your planning efforts, here are a couple of sure fire essentials to create a perfect party that you will be able to enjoy as if you too were a guest.
Pick the perfect date. When choosing a date, keep your guests best interests at heart and try to decide on a date that is convenient for them. It is best to keep away from holidays, Sundays and the beginning of the week. You will also want to steer clear of dates of large functions that your guests may be attending.
Find the perfect place. If you are having an event at your house, please keep in mind how many people you can fit in your home comfortably. Remember that a simple rearrangement of key furniture pieces can help accommodate additional guests. If you are planning on having the event at a different venue, call ahead and make sure it is available on the date you have chosen. You will also want to check their policy on deposits and cancellation charges in case you need to cancel or reschedule.
Sending out your invitations. Make sure that you send out your invitations in plenty of time, but not so long that your guests might forget. For a party at your home, four to six weeks is appropriate, although for a larger event eight weeks is recommended. Always include RSVP information and a RSVP date. You will need to know how many guests plan to attend in order to make final preparations for food, beverages, number of place settings and more.
Decide on menu and bar options. When planning an event, many people choose convenience and call a caterer. Nonetheless, choose a caterer that you have used before or a caterer who comes highly recommended. You may also want to call your favorite restaurant to see if they are interested in catering your party. Most caterers will come to your home and speak to you about their food, or bring samples of food so you can select from different menus. Nonetheless, be sure to keep your budget in mind as you search for a caterer and watch out for any hidden costs.
Hire a hospitality service. If you like to cook or would prefer to cook and plan the party on your own, you may only need help around the time of the party for last minute details. In this instance you might hire staff from a hospitality agency who can assist with the execution of the meal, wait on your guests, plate up your food, bartend or assist with anything you need to make your event a success. Sometimes it is less expensive to call a hospitality company than to use the caterer's staff, especially if you are providing the food. Whether it is a party for 20 in you home, or a gala for 2,000, a host or hostess can always benefit from hiring hospitality staff.
Décor. The kind of decorations you choose should coincide with the kind of party you plan to throw. If you are having an event at you home, you will want to keep the décor simple and unobtrusive. Consult a floral designer about arrangements or garlands that will add to the ambiance of your home. If you are planning an event at another venue, you may want to consult an event planner to assist you. They will undoubtedly have numerous suggestions and ideas to ensure that your party is a success.
No matter what anyone tells you, throwing a great party is a true art form and takes a lot of work. Get help where you can, and don't hesitate to seek the assistance of professionals. The benefits out way the cost and will allow you to be a guest at your own party.