What’s it all about? Why do this thing? What and especially Who is this party for? I don’t mean to be confrontational, but these are the things that you as the party host should be crystal clear about well in advance of the first ding-dong or even the first RSVP.
(RSVPs. Haha, remember those? Pretty rare to receive ‘em these days. Prove me wrong! Get off my lawn!!)
Party purpose and party theme are not the same thing although they do work hand-in-hand. But purpose comes first and it comes from the heart.
Purpose: “I want a cozy evening in to catch up with my close friends.”
Theme: Comfort food + game night.
Purpose: “We’re celebrating a milestone event with extended family and friends.”
Theme: Champagne & finger food + Red carpet/VIP treatment for the guests of honor.
Purpose: “Maintaining a festive tradition and reconnecting with people from different aspects/stages of our lives, past and present.”
Theme: Bountiful Buffet and Open Bar + Annual Holiday Open House
The latter of the examples above is what we’re prepping for right now. Family, friends, neighbors, work colleagues current and past – all will descend upon us for a rollicking good time in just a few weeks to light the menorah and help decorate the Christmas tree. Over time the open house has become an excuse to offer a lavish home-cooked spread that takes weeks to prepare. The guests don’t mind, in fact some say they make sure to wear their “eatin’ pants” with the stretchy waistband. The danger comes in getting so caught up in the perceived need to exceed expectations that by the time party day rolls around I’m liable to be exhausted and cranky. Not a good look for the Hostess with the Mostest.
I need to remember that the purpose is to hang out with our peeps – sometimes it’s the only opportunity all year – and say “Hi, How’ve you been, and Happy holidays.” With a houseful of guests (usually 80-100 on flow) it can be difficult to say much more than that, but we now arrange the logistics so that more quality time is spent with the invitees than cooking a show-stopping dish or fiddling with a highly detailed centerpiece. Who really cares if we purchase salad and pie vs making every last menu item ourselves? Who cares if there are only five kinds of cookies instead of six? When I keep the party’s purpose in mind, it’s easy to stick with what matters and let go of the rest.
More party planning tips are coming your way over the weeks ahead and I’ll ask for your help too. Got any good tips for staying focused while planning your awesome party? Tell all in the comments.