By KRISTINA JOHNSON
Throwing a party of any size takes a ton of time and energy. Deciding where to host a large number of people and planning what to feed them will probably be the first and most important items on your to-do list, but once you’ve checked those off, there’s still lots of work to be done.
The finer details can have a major impact on your event, from how much your guests enjoy themselves to how many gray hairs you sprout during the party-planning process. Whatever you’re celebrating, there are many ways to save yourself some stress while also making your event an especially memorable experience for your friends and family.
When it comes to invites, you can save yourself both time and money by going digital. Websites like evite.com or paperlesspost.com let you design cute invites without the hassle of printing, stamping and mailing them. They also make it easier to keep track of RSVPs, and let you send a friendly email reminder to late responders. If you prefer to do it the old-fashioned way, however, there are many brick-and-mortar shops in the borough that can help you out.
Theme and Décor
Don’t forget to pick a theme for your bash. Whether it’s a beloved cartoon character for a child’s birthday, a romantic destination for an anniversary party, or simply a pastel color palette for a baby shower, having a theme will make decorating much easier. No matter how obscure or specific your theme, chances are you’ll still be able to coordinate everything from tablecloths to napkins to balloons by scouring sites like Party City, Oriental Trading Company and Michaels.
Floral arrangements can transform even the plainest venue into an elegant and dreamy space. Fresh flowers don’t come cheap, however, especially if the bloom you’re hoping for isn’t in season. Keep in mind that you don’t need an oversized bouquet on every guest table. Tasteful, modern arrangements can include just a single flower floating in water, or a slender bud vase. You can also go the do-it-yourself route and save a significant amount of cash by buying flowers in bulk at places likes Costco and putting together your own arrangements. If you’re looking for something that won’t wilt in a matter of days, fake flowers can be just as attractive as the real thing (not to mention cheaper).
Most people will spring for a professional photographer for their wedding day, but wouldn’t it be nice to have amazing pictures from celebrations of other life milestones as well? A photographer can help capture those blink-and-you-miss-it moments at a child’s birthday party, baptism or bar mitzvah, and preserve them for a lifetime. Photography can also be a part of the entertainment at your event, as people cram into a photo booth for pictures with silly props or strike a pose in front of a photo wall. If a professional isn’t in the budget, ask a talented friend or family member to be on picture duty.
One of the biggest worries for any host is whether the guests are having a good time. If your event includes a DJ or dancing, ask your partygoers to submit a song request along with their RSVP. When their song comes on, they’ll be obligated to bust a move and keep the dance floor packed.
If you’re hosting a bash in your own home, you don’t necessarily have to do all the work yourself. Hiring some help can make things run more smoothly, allowing you to relax, enjoy and mingle with your guests. A bartender can cut down on the line around the drinks table, while a dishwasher can help make sure you’re not cleaning up your kitchen for hours after your guests have gone home. It’s a splurge that will be well worth the price.
You can kill two birds with one stone by making your dessert to go. A cookie or cupcake wrapped up in a box makes the perfect party favor, especially since most people don’t need yet another tchotchke to take home. Link up with a specialty baker on Etsy and you’ll be able to order personalized desserts that fit your theme and taste as good as they look.
You don’t want your guests to miss half your party because they’re circling the block looking for a parking spot. Check with your venue ahead of time to figure out a parking plan and make sure your guests are informed of it. If you can afford it, consider setting up a shuttle to pick guests up and drop them off. If the party’s in your home, ask your neighbors if they’d be willing to lend you their driveways for a few hours.
Paying a little extra attention to these details can turn a good party into a great one. But don’t stress if you don’t have the time or money to make your event look like something out of a lifestyle magazine. The best parties are about making memories with the people you love, not how fancy the venue or lavish the décor is.