Whether you’re planning a shower, special event, or just want to have a few friends over to celebrate the warmer weather, party planning can be stressful. I know I am the first to get a little crazy during crunch time!
As a professional, I’ve learned to keep my cool and focusing on the negative has only made the process more difficult. Believe me, it is so hard to “ignore the noise,” as one fellow entrepreneur mentions (for a positive boost, you must read Courtney Cachet’s article: How to Be a Lucky *$&#@ in 2012), but to throw a successful event with half the stress, its imperative.
Next to your party checklist, post these tips to help you be the effortless host:
- Breathe. Believe it or not, you’ve probably stopped doing it. Or at least entered a rhythm of shallow, quick paced breathing that is subconsciously sabotaging your psyche. Now would be the perfect time to pick up a yoga or meditation class. If the OM session isn’t for you, just stop, wherever you are. Take 3-5 very deep and long breaths. No, this process won’t plan your party for you, but you will be able to tackle the steps with a calmer attitude (and a healthier well being).
- Stop Trying to Do it All Yourself. I’m not sure why I never listened to this advice sooner. Its simply crazy to organize every single detail, down to baking the birthday cake and decorating it (from scratch) all by yourself. I know you can do it, probably very well too, but maybe its time to hire out. Know where to cut your loses and get help, whether your husband, best friend, parents, or another close person willing to help you will jump in to make the trip to Party City for you. No matter how you do it, ask for help.
- Hire a Caterer. Ok, apologies in advance for the shameless self promotion... Seriously though, whether its me or any one of the numerous caterers in the area, we are all willing to help you, not take your money and run (well, still be weary, some money grubbers are out there). I’m sure many of my colleagues would agree, even if you just have party planning questions, feel free to call or email and get a little free advice. It is our business to plan parties, so even if you don’t hire us, we can still try to help (free of charge)!
- Cut the right corners. To avoid stress, we try to save money or time by skimping on certain things. I am the first to do it, but make sure you cut in the right places. For me, when planning an elegant dinner party, the food receives the culprit of my funds. I’ll be ordering the wild caught salmon, going to the local farm stand for produce, and choosing the best ingredients for each dish. For table decor, I’ll likely end up at Home Goods or IKEA, not the highest quality products, but a corner I am willing to cut. The quality of the event won’t be sacrificed, as a result, and I can still afford to charge my clients a reasonable price. For your party, skimp on the paper products, music, and decor. Don’t go to Shoprite because the sandwiches are cheaper; go there because that’s what you and your guests like.
- Write everything down. In your head, its a jumbled mess of information you just can’t get a grasp on. On paper, however, its noted and not forgotten, and therefore, less stress for you. Whether you are a techie, laying out the excel spreadsheet or, like me, have a few sheets of printer paper and a sharpie, make the notes that will keep you organized. That way, you can delegate and execute seamlessly.
- The clean up. The part we always forget to consider when planning. What will it take for you to clean everything up after the last of your guests leave? When you hire a caterer, it is likely they will clean most things up for you. If you don’t have to break out the fine china, rent. Most places charge less than a dollar a piece for glasses and dishware that you just return to them dirty (they are required to clean everything on site anyway, so there’s no point for you to clean it first! Just rinse and return). Paper products can be a godsend too; especially the fancy plastic silverware that is available these days. During many of my events, guests have thrown away their paper plates and handed me their plastic forks.
Party planning can be grueling, but it is important to remember why you are doing it in the first place. To have fun, right? So make sure you do that. Grab a drink during your party and have fun. The last place your friends want you is slaving in the kitchen. Good luck!
Stay tuned for the next article in the Spring Party Planning 101 series: Best Foods to Prepare for Your Party, So You Can Enjoy Your Guests!
© 2012 Olivia Saez, Olivia’s Catering & Bake Shop