Parties are supposed to be fun, but, let’s face it — hosting can be seriously stressful if you’re not an entertaining expert. It’s up to you to think about all of the logistics of the event. You have to prepare the food and drinks. Oh, and then there’s the added pressure of making sure everyone’s having a great time.
But party planning doesn’t have to be like that. Professionals do it all the time, and they barely break a sweat putting together soirees that are equal parts memorable and enjoyable. Use their advice to do the same for your next party — here are seven of the best entertaining expert tips:
As much as you don’t want to be a to-do-list person, it’s an essential in party planning. In fact, some expert planners make multiple checklists to ensure they’ve got everything they need and done everything before the big day.
The size and purpose of your party will dictate the number of lists you need. For example, every get-together needs a to-do list to outline overall prep — music, decorations, food, etc. You’ll probably need a shopping list, too. But a professional or extra-large party might require you to maintain a guest list. You can keep one for a smaller party, too, if you want to remember things like dietary restrictions, but you could probably do so without writing it down.
Another way to avoid stress is to start planning early. A good rule of thumb is to nail down the time and place of your event one month before and to send the invites a week after that.
With three weeks, your guests will have plenty of time to clear their calendars and to send in their RSVPs; it’s not too much time that invitees will forget the party, either. You can make this task even simpler by sending virtual invitations, so long as your get-together is casual enough to warrant a digital version.
Inviting too many people will strain you financially and emotionally — putting together an event for a huge crowd takes a lot of work. So, thoughtfully select who’s invited to your next shindig. Keep your closest friends and family members in the loop to remove the stress of planning. You’ll feel like an entertaining expert with them anyway since you won’t struggle for conversation or laughs with the ones you love most.
It might seem as though a theme makes the party-planning process harder. But it turns out that a theme can be your guiding light as you select the menu, decor, music and activities for your party.
Of course, this means you’ll have to settle on a theme first. There are so many to choose from, too. Start by considering the season you’re in and if there are any inspiring holidays or events coming up. Everything from fall flavors to Cinco de Mayo to the Oscars can be the impetus for a festive gathering.
Then, there are creative, evergreen themes to consider. For example, you might want to throw a competitive potluck, wherein everyone brings a dish to be judged for a potential prize. This theme takes double the burden off of your back — you don’t have to worry about the menu, and you have a theme and activities for the evening.
Money is perhaps the most stressful thing in the world, and you’ll need it to put your party together. Unless you have unlimited funds, you’ll want to figure out how much you can spend on your get-together and stick to that number, no matter what. If it makes it easier, break down how much to spend on food, decor, activities, etc. That way, you’ll have multiple budgets to answer to — and, chances are, with all of that outlined, you will.
Experts might have the ability to cook and host simultaneously. But they suggest that amateur party planners make as much food as possible before the big party. That way, you can focus on chatting with your guests, breaking the ice and all that good stuff. Just make sure you find show-stopping prep-ahead dishes — no need to stress about whether or not your dinner will be delish.
Oh, and if you do need to cook while your guests wait, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You might think the perfect host would have it all under control, but your guests won’t care. In fact, they’d probably love to help you prepare their meal.
The last expert tip for your next party: there’s no need to serve as host, chef and bartender at the same time. Your guests won’t mind pouring their own drinks. They’ll probably bring a bottle of something to the party so that they can add it to the bar — and drink it at their leisure. No need to worry about that aspect of the party, too.
These seven tips won’t make your next party-planning session seamless. But they will make it much less stressful than going it on your own. So, start your list and see what happens — we’re going to bet the end result will be a pretty amazing get-together.