This last Sunday, for my graduation, I threw the biggest party I ever planned, and it looked beautiful!
I've thrown quite a few parties in my short life. Birthday parties, for not only me but my three sisters. Halloween parties. End of the year parties. Random parties just for the fun of it. If I don't teach ballet as a living, I will consider event planning, because I really do love it! And now I will disclose to you some of the things that I learned as I planned and prepared and threw my party last Sunday!
You see, many people think that the details and work associated with throwing parties will overwhelm them. They think that they can't do it, but I want to make party-throwing easy for all reading this with nine easy steps, because I believe that ability to throw a good party allows people to minister for God even better. Jesus knew how to party (see John 2:1-12), now it's our turn!
Nine steps to a great party:
1. Do your research
Parties start on Pinterest. No, don't laugh! Researching your party weeks in advance really helps you to feel prepared and confident in your party. I highly recommend creating a board for any upcoming events, be it a secret. public, or a group board, to help channel ideas and keep reminders of all your inspirations. My board, here, helped me figure out what I wanted to do and helped me plan out my theme. Speaking of...
2. Pick a Theme
After much pinning, narrow it down. Figure out what you want to do, what colors you want to use and how your party will feel. Will people dress up? Finger foods? Sit down meal? Family event? Vintage inspired? Try to state the theme of your party in one sentence, and then all future ideas and purchases will naturally fall into your theme. For me, my party's theme was as follows:
A pink and gold celebration of a vintage-loving ballerina who love Jesus.
There you have it! Then, when I bought my purchases, I referred back to my theme to see if they would all coordinate.
3. Know When to Make It
I love crafting, so I obviously wanted to make a few things for my party (tutorials will come up soon!). When it comes to the DIYs, however, you want to finish sooner rather than later. Trust me, you don't want to have to stay up late the night before making paper fans galore. (True story.) With that said, homemade decor and games add a personal flair and exciting investment to any party, so don't be afraid to tackle the DIYs! I made the centerpieces for all of my tables as well as some paper fan backdrops for my party, and those touches really made a difference.
4. Know When to Buy It
You could try and make everything yourself, from the banner to the cake, but the more you make, the more time you spend, the more time you spend, the more invested you are, and the more invested you are, the more upset you will become when something goes wrong. And trust me, something will always go wrong.
Don't overstretch yourself with trying to make everything, but make what you know that you can, and buy the rest. Also, check in the stores and online for good deals, because DIYs aren't always the cheapest option. Even if you spend less money with the DIY, sometimes not having to worry about the cake it worth a bit of money. I bought the cake, photo holders, and photo-booth accessories instead of making them, and I don't regret it!
5. Know When to Borrow It
Parties oftentimes require things that would make no sense to buy and would make even less sense to make. Really, how often will I need two drink dispensers or a projector? But I needed them for my party. So what did I do? I borrowed them. I borrowed serving ware, a projector, cake stands, dress forms and tablecloths for my party, and without generous friends to let me borrow them, my party either would have looked way plainer or would have cost much more! Find out who will lend you something, and then ask them! They won't likely say no. Just make sure to return all of the borrowed items, cleaned, in a timely manner.
6. Don't Fear Asking For Help
Big projects take more than one person to complete, so don't fool yourself into thinking that you can throw a party by yourself! Believe it or not, people actually want to help you, so ask them! A huge part of the success of my party depended upon my sisters helping me cover bottles in glitter, my mom going to endless stores for plates, fruit, sorbet, and more, my dad cooking pulled pork, and many friends to help set up, serve, and clean up. Really, their readiness to help blew me away, and it made my party even more special!
A task every leader must learn, though, is the task of delegating. You must tell the helpers what to do and assign the proper tasks to the proper people (a.k.a, don't ask your little sister to cut the cake). Then the prep goes so much faster!
And I can't forget the most important person, Jesus! I wanted to make my party center around Him, and I knew that I couldn't do that without Him, so I prayed over this celebration for weeks and also let Him give me a pep-talk before it began. Through Jesus' grace, He received the glory, and that makes me smile!
7. Remember That the Party Centers Around the Guests
Even if the party celebrates you or a close friend, good parties never just center around one person but cater to the guests. Pick activities and food that the guests will enjoy and make sure to keep them in focus throughout the event. You love the strawberry cake but don't think everyone will like it? Get chocolate cupcakes too. You think that ballroom dancing rocks but your guests would feel uncomfortable dancing? What about a photo-booth instead? Make sure that the event feels fun and comfortable for the guests, because, really, parties celebrate all of the people there, not just the birthday girl or graduate. That being said, don't just do what you feel you have to do or what everyone else prefers. Make it you, but also make it engaging and enjoyable for all!
8. Play Some Music
Music in the background makes everything grander. It fills any gaps in conversation and sometimes can even start conversations. I used the wonderful Amazon music to make a playlist (you could do the same on iTunes) because I wanted to handpick the songs to fit the party, something I recommend, If you don't have time to create a playlist, use Pandora or Spotify or pop in some CDs to keep the tunes flowing!
9. Don't Stay in Party-Planning Mode
When the party starts, don't keep too busy making sure that everything runs smoothly and that every person had some punch and that you photograph every moment. No, you did the work, you made the party, and now you must enjoy it! This transition between planner to party-goer took me a moment to get used to Sunday, but it was the most important step for my party, because even if the room looked amazing and everyone loved the cake and the pictures turned out perfect, if I didn't enjoy myself, the party didn't reach full potential. So for the last step, forget all of the previous steps and just have fun!
These nine steps all helped me to throw my best party yet last Sunday, and I hope that they assist you to feel confident and joyful in your future party endeavors! Comment below any party tips that you've discovered as well as your favorite tip discussed above! And stay tuned for the tutorials of the crafts that I made for the party!