Where to Start

 

 The easiest place to start is, naturally, the beginning. Your first step needs to be a decision, when. Find a date that will work for your schedule, will probably work for the schedules of most of your guests, and is far enough in advance to allow for proper planning and implementation. For example, weekend evenings will typically work better for most people. Next up? Plan ahead. Scheduling your party for tonight is probably a bad idea and will most likely result in a poor showing, unecessary stress, and a lot of wasted effort.

 

Summary:

  • Pick a firm date

  • Make sure your date makes sense

  • Plan ahead

Know what to expect

 

Once you know your date, invite your intended guests based on the level of formality. Lean more towards the word of mouth/email/social networking level for things like backyard cookouts, birthday parties, or block parties. Save the custom printed/professionally written invitations for weddings, graduations, milestone birthdays, and retirement parties. Once your invitations are out, use the responses to gather a headcount. The number of probable attendees is critical. If you expect far less than the number of actual attendees, you run the risk of running out of seating space. On the other side of the coin, if you over-anticipate the number of guests, the event will look empty and encourage guests to leave early. Knowing an exact headcount makes getting appropriate seating, service items, and food/beverage counts much closer to the actual number of guests in attendance. That being said, you can never anticipate someone starting a new relationship, or bringing a last-minute plus one. To be on the safe side, supplement your headcount with an reasonable number of surprise guests.

 

Summary:

  • Use formal invitations for formal events, and casual invitations for casual ones.

  • Get an exact headcount

  • Allow for a small window of variance.

Know where you are going

 

 

Now that you have a date and a tentative guestlist, it's time to find a theme. For the theme nothing dramatic is necessary, just a color scheme and a plan. Start with the overall theme (if applicable) and work backwards from there selecting colors used in the theme, or colors that suit your taste. It is best to stick to a simple two or three color group. Less can tend to look a little bland and more can get crowded. This is definitely not a rule however, mixing many vibrant colors can produce a wonderful color scheme for a Springtime day party. Balancing multiple colors can be a little tricky. There are two easily usable options: uniformity or patterning. Uniformity is the result of using all of the colors in the same way on each table. Patterning is the use of either a single color per table or switching up the primary and accent colors table to table.

 

Summary:

  • Find a theme

  • Pick a color scheme derived from the overall theme

  • Try to keep the color count low

  • Pick a layout that suits your vision

 

Party Planning 101

 

How to draw focus

 

 

All the responses are in, your theme and colors are picked, and now to plan the layout of your event. Every event needs at least one focal point. Something to draw the eye of your guests as they enter. Many parties feature a guest, or multiple guests, of honor. The easiest focal point is to plan out a table of honor, for the retiree, bridal party, birthday boy/girl, etc. Then use this table to go all out with elaborate centerpieces, complex overlay styles, fancier chairs, and so on. If your event is the block party/reunion/benefit type with no particular guest(s) of honor, you may want to consider setting a guestless focal table (i.e. your registration or buffet table). Now your event has a focal point, now it's time to set a focal point for each of your tables. Try to find a base that won't appear either overbearingly large or too small for the tables you're using. For example a 12" mirror pedestal on a 36" round table would be far too large and would noticeably restrict the usable table space. At the same token, a 2" wide votive holder will be comically too small on a 72" round table. Try using mirror tiles, or clusters of different glass vases for a more dramatic centerpiece without drowning your table.

 

Summary:

  • Find a theme

  • Pick a color scheme derived from the overall theme

  • Try to keep the color count low

  • Pick a layout that suits your vision

  • Use the table of honor to fully express your creativity

  • Use a guestless focal table in lieu of a table of honor

  • Use the right size centerpiece for your tables.

 

Just Enough vs. A Little Too Much

 

 

The easiest way to keep cost down and give the best impression to your guests is to lean more towards simplicity. When planning an event, particularly well in advance, there is always the temptation to plan tables with a plethora of different accent pieces and a wide array of colors. Picking a simpler one or two color table with tasteful metal/glass/floral centerpeieces, will leave your guests with a much better impression. The goal is to avoid both sparcity and a glaring cluttered distraction. In many respects there is a very fine line between the two, the hardest part is finding the proper balance. However, there is no shame in asking for help. Ask a few friends what they think, or stop by and ask us for a few suggestions.

 

Summary:

  • Rule of thumb, simplicity is generally a safer bet

  • Try to balance Spartan bare and Bargain bin clutter

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help

vs.