How to Plan a Party
With Rachel Kay
One of my dear friends and clients, Julie, asked me to help her plan an intimate party at her home. I was super excited to plan this party with her since she just moved into a new home. Plus, she has the greatest taste- and she brings something funky to the table every time.
We had a wonderful time creating a fun event that involved mingling, socializing, and lots of appetizers and drinks. Since I managed to capture the whole event on camera, I thought to share it with you guys.
Here I will walk you through the necessary steps of planning a party from A-Z. If you thought you weren't cut out for this stuff, think again. With my simple instructions, you can be hosting pretty soon as a pro!
Click here to watch my YouTube video guiding you through each step:
In This Article:
- The Logistics of the Event
- Choose Your Affair
- Pick a Theme
- Setting Your Tables
- Room Props
- Maximizing Your Furniture
The Logistics of the Event
So, you're planning a party. You've compiled the guest list, and now it's time to get to work.
The first thing you need to figure out are the logistics of the party. How are you going to arrange your seating area? This stage is very important and can take more than a little planning. I am not talking about a seating plan, rather table arrangement. You need to maximize the space you are working with, but still leave enough space for mingling and socializing.
In this case, Julie decided to use her Dining Room and her Living Room for the event, based on the amount of people that she was inviting. In the Dining Room she set formal sit-down tables with lucite rental chairs. However, in the Living Area she decided to go with a bar height table and some bar stools for a more casual mingling area. In this way, she combined fun elements with some practical seating arrangements for the guests that wanted to sit down and eat comfortably.
Now for the tables and chairs themselves, you have endless options. Do you want to go with oval, round, square, or oblong-shaped tables? Narrow, high, or low? For the seating, do you want to go with couches, stools, or pretty chairs? While these options might make your head spin, examine your choices practically. How big is your space, and what can it support comfortably? Also, what look are you going for? Round tables might be more elegant while squares can be edgier. Rectangles and ovals can fit a lot more people and can create a banquet ambiance. And obviously, choose your chairs based on the table formality.
Choose Your Affair
Now you will need to decide on your ambience. What vibe are you going for?
You have probably already thought about this when planning your table arrangement, but now you need to decide how to plan your menu.
Do you want to do a sit-down dinner with a properly plated 5 course meal? Or do you want a more easygoing party with hors d'oeuvres being passed around? This decision will set the course for your party needs.
Will you need waiters to pass around foods? A public buffet or bar? Will you need food warmers and sternos? Or do you simply need beautiful china and glasses to set your tables.
In our case, Julie decided to do a combination party. In one room she had proper tables set up for sitting down comfortably. In this room she prepared gorgeous tablesettings with floral arrangements and candles. In the Living Room, she prepared a bar table with only minimal dishes, since most of the food was being passed around. She also set up public areas such as a shelving unit and buffet table to place extra dishes and food.
Pick a Theme
What theme are you envisioning for your party?
Do you want a cultural theme such as Asian/Moroccan/Mexican? Do you want a character theme? Or any other themed ideas?
Or do you prefer to keep it simple with a classy, edgy, or sophisticated scheme?
Either way, you can also choose a color scheme to keep things looking uniform and of course beautiful.
Julie wanted an edgy, cool look but she also wanted to add in some color for life and fun. Since her house had elements of purple decor, we decided to incorporate purple into the theme. In the living room, we kept the theme cool, with a grey tablecloth. However, we added touches of color with the Purple Glasses from our website.
In the main room, we used black square modern tables, with white placemats for contrast and added brightness. To tie in the purple, we used fuchsia runners , flowers and colored glass plates. In this way, we created a vibrant edgy feel to the room. The guests were also able to pinpoint the purple, which tied our whole look together.
Setting Your Table
Now comes the fun part! Here you can let your creativity run wild and decorate to your heart's content. The heavy planning is behind you, and you have a theme worked out. Now all you need to do is watch it come together with the right pieces for your table. This includes table settings, centerpieces, and any cute accents that you want to use to adorn your table further.
As we previously discussed, in our party we divided the event into two rooms. In the Living Room we barely did anything with the table, since it was simply a place to carry your food to. We used a furry grey shaded tablecloth which made the room immediately. Then we kept the tablesetting simple with just one rectangular appetizer plate and a spoon for sauces and dips. The glasses were coordinated in silver shades. (We set with 2 size glasses, although only 1 was really necessary for drinking. This was because it added visual beauty by making the table look fuller and more complete.) We also added some beautiful silver candlesticks both for height and beauty.
In the formal party room, we chose to use flowers for the centerpieces. Flowers in general give a softer feel to the room and are therefore used in more elegant affairs. Since this room hosted the more "formal" section of the affair, we aptly chose flowers for decoration. We also set each place properly with full cutlery, placemats, chargers, and china sets. No tablecloth was used which is actually quite daring, as this makes a very modern vibe. But this was Julie's affair, and she wanted to go bold. And bold it was!
Rented props can make the difference between regular party to extraordinaire. You don't need to spend a lot of money either. Any furniture piece that you already own can be converted for party use. Think bookshelves, coffee tables, table carts and the like. Clear off your stuff, and fill it with party goods, extra cutlery, decorations, or even candles. The effect will wow your guests into thinking you invested lots of time and money into your party. They will feel treated and transported. If you want to go big, you can rent cute carts or shelving units that are designed for party usage.
In this party, Julie used her shelving unit to place spare cutlery as well as stacks of paper goods in case the china ran out. She also placed dishes used for serving oneself appetizers, including soup bowls. In this way she left the table more visually appealing by putting most of the clutter on the shelves where they were neatly displayed. She also placed pretty paper napkins on her fireplace and low coffee table to have it handy for all her guests.
Maximizing Your Furniture
The last step before you can declare it a party, is rearranging your room furniture.
Making a party at home is beautiful and has its own cozy ambience. However, the space can easily feel overwhelmed and constricted with too many people. That's why you want to plan your room wisely. Existing furniture should generally be moved out of the way to make room for the party, unless, it can enhance the event.
For example, Julie owned a couch. For party purposes, it had to be moved to make way for the tables. However, I suggested that instead of removing it completely, we move it over to the side where it could be used for socializing among the guests. In this way, we took a klutzy item and turned it into a party feature.
Now it's time to party!!
You are ready for your guests to arrive, and for the food to be laid out. You can be secure in the knowledge that your party is planned to perfection and that your guests will have the best time possible.
You May Also Like
Want To Receive More Tablescaping Tips?
Join us to receive the latest tips and tricks in dinner party hosting.