PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR!
If you are expecting to read about keg stands, crusty nacho cheese and mandatory hot party girls, stop reading now because I have nothing in this article about any of that. Well ok, maybe the girls. Other than that you are going to get a crash course in how to prepare for a great party. It took me years to learn some of this stuff, so pay attention.
If you are like 99.5% of the American population, you don't have enough hours in the day. Most couples, friends, family, and work contacts communicate by texting, cell phones, emails and meals. Meeting for dinner is great but you can get uncomfortable when the meal is finished. The server clears the table, the matre d' clears this throat, while eying potential diners getting drunk on complimentary drinks because the wait is so long. Every now and then you need to really catch up or celebrate without any time constraints and that is an occasion and an occasion calls for a party.
I teach classes (when I can find the time) on the subject of how to create an amazing experience from a grand red carpet events to a 1st birthday party, and also offer private event planning in person or by email. "How do I know how much food I need" is the most commonly asked question.
We will get to that but your first order of business is to create a theme and a mood. Is your party an obvious occasion like a baby shower, graduation or birthday? PERSONALIZE it and let your imagination soar. Theme a favorite video game, recreational activity, sports team, the sky is the limit. Should your event be during the day or at night? Do you need music? Indoors (your home or a banquet facility?) or outside, (your yard, party deck or the beach?).
Choose your theme and color scheme and don't alter it. I once sponsored a 'Summer Blues' event. Everything was ocean blue and I was clear about what that shade ocean blue was. I found a lot of great decorations but if they did not match that exact shade I passed them up. Ocean Blue was the primary color, the element was water. Assorted bottled water (in ocean blue bottles) was everywhere on blue ice in blue tubs surrounded by sand. Blue angel fish darted in fishbowls and a remarkably huge inflated water slide was the focus of the water fun, (I tried it and had a blast!)
Guests were asked to wear blue and to bring swimwear. (Ocean Blue) towels were provided by the host. Lastly was the accent or secondary theme, which was sea shells. Huge shells, arrangements of shells, shell wall hangings and accent settings were everywhere. The contrasting beige and pink shells with coordinated ocean blue tableware and hors'devurs created a very pleasant atmosphere.
The menu was obviously seafood but the client chose exotic recipes for lobster, crab, shrimp and sushi. Lighting (blue and a little very pale shell pink) and candles created a great mood while the sun set and of course the 'Summer Blues' party would not have been complete without great jazz wailing in the background. A live jazz band as the evening begins is a first choice but cd's with a great sound system would work. We found a summer breeze scent that perfectly mimicked a clean sea wind and used room scented sprays and candles. Lastly is the fun themed gift bags with those jazz cd's, fun shell jewelry, blue decorated tank tops and flip flops for the girls and breezy boxers for the guys.
The 'Summer Blues' party can even be hosted in February when summer seems so far away. You may be surprised by the cost as in, not as much as you may think. I found ocean blue ceramic plates, shells and glassware (especially wine and martini glasses) at the dollar store and no one would have believed it wasn't all expensive tableware. START with dollar stores for candles, glassware, and other basics and then shop up for what you can't find. Your budget dictates where you shop but don't ever forget dollar and resale shops where you can find unexpected treasures.
I have created children's parties that are a big hit. For the boys who want to "Kick It " I have a karate party with an instructor, free karate uniforms, Asian decor and food but don't even think about it unless you have a room large enough to accommodate lots of karate moves and "hhiiiiiiii-YAssss" being shouted with nothing breakable ANYWHERE.
Little girls get a "Wake Over" which is basically a sleep over in the day. The girls bring a pillow, wear pj's and get a pedicure. The decor is pink, purple and glitter (why fight it?). Activities include pillow fights, the required Hannah Montana (she is available in Wii) music with dancing, and extreme hair and make-up "make-overs". Guest bags are pillow cases (purple and pink) stuffed with pedicure supplies and a Hannah Montana cd. Are you starting to get the idea?
On occasions that honor someone such as a retirement, graduation or major event, you find what that person loves, and build on it. Picture in your mind what your party will look like at it's peak moment and then begin to decipher what it will take to get there.
Some other ideas you might like are a Valentine party just for the girls right before Valentine's Day. Chocolates are the theme, the drinks, and the food and guests decorate chocolates or play chocolate board games while one by one the ladies slip into a bedroom set up as a small studio where they have sexy red lingerie to choose from and have their own little photo shoot. It takes finding the right photographer (an amateur you might know?) but pics can be printed and framed and sent home that night for the girls to give to THEIR valentine.
Another night out for the ladies is what I call "The One Thousand And One - Night Of Fun" evening or afternoon. Middle eastern delights catered by an Arabic restaurant, Arabic coffees, shots of ouzo along with belly dancing lessons will have your girls in hysterics. For the guys there are Super Bowl parties and bachelor nights on the town where the boys can have a great time at rented arcades, golf outings and other great activities that WON'T insult his bride to be like the traditional strip bar routine.
Now for that inevitable question about the food. It's a bit tricky, but not difficult. You can count on your guests eating about 2 ounces of horderves, 4 - 6 ounces of protein or your "main event" dish. Sides and salads are usually about three ounces depending on what the ingredients are. The math is easy.
If you are ordering chicken breasts they will probably be about six ounces each. If you have 50 guests that means 300 ounces of chicken. (Stay with me here.) Divide 300 by 16 (number of ounces in a pound) round it off and you will need about twenty pounds of chicken breasts. Once again, ounce per serving x's number of guests divided by 16 = number of pounds you will need. Buy an inexpensive kitchen scale and weigh one portion of the menu selection if you are unsure of weights, and write it down for future reference. Even though people like to be safe and go a little over the r.s.v.p. count, a few people always cancel at the last minute. Learning the trick of how many ounces each person will consume, times it by the number of guests and dividing it by 16 is very simple once you do it. This applies to catered events also. Keep a close watch of the caterer's estimates and question why 50 guests need 35 pounds of chicken breasts. Leftovers are really wasted money for you.
Along about now you may be questioning my sexual preference (not that there"s anything wrong with that) but let me assure you there is a difference between being gay and paying attention to details like "the contrasting beige and pink shells with coordinated ocean blue table setting and decor created a very pleasant atmosphere". I am a guy so I usually don't notice those things but I know that subtle touches make for a happy client.
A happy client means lots of referrals and referrals translate into large amounts of money. If this town is built on anything, it's parties and events. My smartest move was to hire a female assistant who is worth her weight in gold, is good at details and actually SEES things like sea shell pink lighting and knows how to make it work. I pay her well. I am a big picture thinker and come up with the theme and what it will take to pull it off. She hunts down the details and props (not too difficult being in close proximity to Hollywood), sweeps the stores and can spot the right accent from a block away. Find someone who compliments your skills and balances your strengths and weaknesses to run your ideas by. This is a guarantee of a lot of arguing so always save receipts and expect to return what doesn't work for BOTH of you. The upside of a partner helping you plan an event is that catching the same vision can be exciting, and my assistant can't believe that someone is actually paying her to shop. Event planning is only some of the work I do but it has been good to me! I need to add here that these particular parties I have discussed are copyrighted so keep that in mind and please don't reprint them as your own.
If you learn one thing from this party planning information let it be this; crepe paper, paper napkins, aluminum serving pans or plastic utensils have no place at any event. Ever. A client once told me; "I use paper to wipe my ass. I don't expect to use it at a meal." This statement created a visual that has kept the word "napkin" and "cloth" synonymous in my mind. And one last tip, if you can afford it hire a maid service to clean up the next day so you won't have THAT worry on your mind and can enjoy yourself.
Well there you have it, a sneak peak at a little of what it takes to pull off a terrific occasion hopefully in time for the holidays. The key word is FUN and if you aren't having fun planning the event your guests won't be having any attending it. Arrange to sponsor your events with a partner or at least consult a friend (with great taste) . Consider the reason, the season, the theme, the colors, the food and the mood for the next time you decide it's time to party like a rock star (or then again) just party like YOU. Oh yea, and about the hot party girls? Throw great events and you won't be able to beat them away with a stick. Enjoy.