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Your Guide To Party Planning

Friday, December 15, 2017

It isn’t difficult to nail the role of a perfect host or hostess, but keeping track of it all can be confusing. So, Aakriti Patni & Pearl Mathias bring you a handy checklist to follow

Throwing the perfect party may come naturally to some of your friends, with the invites to the décor all taken care of down to the last tiny detail. But, it’s your turn now and you’re second guessing yourself, wondering whether your party will come close to theirs. You don’t need to worry, because while party planning isn’t an inborn quality, and with our easy checklist your task will get simpler. So, put on your party hat, get that checklist in hand and get the ball rolling.

STEP 1: PICKING THE THEME

When planning a party, you need to start out right. The first step here is to pick a theme. Every party has a theme, whether you’re having one just for fun or you’re in the midst of a festive season. Themes add excitement to your plans. But, the world of themes can be confusing, so we have a few tips.

Theme game

Your theme can be as extravagant as a Hollywood-style evening ball or something playful like a Hawaiian cocktail party. List out a few exciting themes that go with the occasion and note down items that you would need to execute the theme. Budget also comes into play when settling on a theme. So, keep in mind the guest list, décor, food, drinks and music.

Trend setter

If you’re having trouble picking a theme, look at what’s trending in the fashion space. The simplest of themes is going with a particular colour, while something more fun would be to incorporate trendy prints in the theme. If you’re hosting the party at home, consider simple and subtle themes that you can use as a template for when you’re decorating your home as well. You can build upon colour schemes and floral themes. Picking a theme sets a benchmark for all that follows.

STEP 2: PUTTING TOGETHER A GUEST LIST

You may be tempted to send out invites to 80% of your friends because you want everyone to celebrate the occasion. After all, you want everyone to see how fantastic your party will be. But, this isn’t realistic unless you’re planning to go all-out and book a hall for 350 people. So, when you sit down to make your list, think of how many people you can accommodate and entertain in the space you’ve picked for the party.

A guest’s affair

A rule of thumb is to invite people who know each other and get along well to avoid tense situations. Also, open up the guest list to new invitees, interesting people you’ve just met. This will ensure that your party isn’t the same as any other outing with your friends, where you’ll reminisce over the same things. And, try to invite an equal number of men and women.

By invite only

Once you have your guest list in place, a fun thing you can do is to create invites for them. Although hard copies are best, we suggest saving that money (and maybe putting it into the party equipment and decorations) and going the digital route instead. Create a themed invite, making the dress code, date, time and venue prominent. Also, ask them to RSVP so that you know how many people to expect.

STEP 3: CURATING THE MENU

The best aspect of any party is the food, and as exciting as your theme and guest list may be, to make a party truly memorable the food has to be spectacular. But, designing the perfect menu may not be as easy as you think. There are many factors on which your menu will depend — your theme dominates the type of food served, the guest list puts restrictions on your menu, and even the venue and entertainment may push your menu in a certain direction. Use these tips to settle on a menu.

Sit-down meals and set menus

If the evening you envision is an elegant, formal one, then a sit-down meal with a set menu would be a good choice. The number of courses you want to serve depends on the occasion and the guest list, but the type of food would ideally be contemporary with European style dishes. However, you could choose a specific cuisine as well.

Finger food and buffet style

A buffet dinner with a round of rotating appetisers is the ideal choice for the menu if you’re throwing a semi-formal party at home. This is where you can have fun with the menu and choose exotic foods, or even stick to traditional food options depending on your theme. You can opt for a DIY station, with foods like a Mexican bowl or khawsuey, for your guests to put together by themselves.

Drinks

In a sit-down, set-menu meal, wine that complements each course is served. For a more casual event, you can serve a variety of drinks, from cocktails to glasses of wine, and even plain soft drinks and sherbets can be served.

STEP 4: DÉCOR

The theme is the king when it comes to party planning — the one aspect that almost all other things rely on, especially the décor. So, keep these tips in mind when choosing the décor for your event.

Over-the-top decorations

Unless you’re throwing a children’s party or a Halloween bash, stay away from garish decorations. While large disco balls may be the light of a 1970s party, it simply won’t work anymore. Go simple and elegant; using an overwhelming amount of decorations will take away from your party.

For all themes

For festive home parties and formal gatherings, less is always more. Choose scented candles, fresh flowers and subtle and minimalistic festive décor to spruce up your party. For a casual do, use funky DIY décor like  bottled fairy light and hanging lanterns to add a quirky touch, with soft music playing in the background.

Colour wheel

Choose a colour scheme according to your theme and play around with these colours when choosing your décor pieces and setting your table.

Table setting

For a sit-down meal, have place settings for each guest, preferably with place cards. For a buffet style party, it’s more casual, so all you need is crockery set for serving the food and the guest plates.

STEP 5: ENTERTAINMENT

No party is complete without entertainment, and you can go big or small, from live entertainment to an anchor to host the party. Apart from the main entertainment, pay attention to the networking that will happen at your party. Especially for intimate dinners and formal gatherings, plan it out so that there is a good flow of conversation and all guests are intermingling. Whether you want to go with pulsating music and a makeshift dance floor, or hire a band or DJ to liven up your party, this is where you can experiment.

Old school

Traditional and formal dinners in colonial times had guests changing their conversation partners every few minutes, ensuring that they mingled with everybody present. This works brilliantly when you have formal networking parties and ensures that all guests feel included. Seat a good mix of people together to ensure a lively conversation throughout the meal. Avoid orchestrating a huge group conversation; instead, allow people to mingle and talk in different groups.

Music and mime

Soft and slow music should be played in the background throughout the party. Of course, for a lively party, have your guests grooving to popular beats. You can also opt for a karaoke machine!

Games

These are the perfect inclusion for a small intimate party, especially where the couples present are trying to get to know each other. Play fun couple games or board games that can carry on for a long time. Card games work perfectly too.

STEP 6: PARTY FAVOURS

As children, we would jump with joy when we were handed ‘return gifts’ at our friends’ birthday parties. Well, return gifts may no longer be of avail to you, but party favours are still gifted by the host of the party, and we think that this small token adds a touch of sentimentality. The tradition involves the host of the party gifting their guests a small token of gratitude, as a gesture of thanks for their attendance, and for making their party a memorable event. Keep these pointers in the mind when selecting party favours.

Gifts galore

A party favour is supposed to be a tiny memento of the occasion. So select small gifts such as personalised note cards, scented mini-candles or a box of chocolates or nuts. Home décor items make good party favours as well. For a couples’ party, choose a gift suitable for couples. The packaging is important too, so take the effort to have your gift wrapped in pretty wrapping paper and always use cutesy gift bags.

Notes and more

For an intimate gathering, your party favour should be more personal. Take the time to personalise your party favours and pen down a different message for each one of your guests.

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