First of all, if any of you are popping by for the first time after watching The Daily Buzz or reading The Charlotte Sun, I just want to say welcome to LWSL! There is a lot to see so please take some time to explore some of my most popular posts! If you like what you read, I encourage you to subscribe to the weekly LWSL newsletter , or join me on Facebook & Twitter. If you are looking for the latest Cyber Monday deals, please visit my sister site Saving Well Spending Less!
* * *
But on to party planning….The main thing to remember when planning any party is that the details matter, but not the details that you might think. No one will remember how adorable your overpriced napkins were, but if you give some thought to making your guests feel comfortable, it won’t matter whether you spent $10 or $1000.
1. Pick a Theme.
I am a firm believer in the theory that every great party needs an original theme. The blogosphere is full of inspiration as one google search will show you, and the minute you find a theme you like, the creative ideas will start rolling in. Last year, for instance, year our party’s theme was “Candy Canes, Cocktails, & Christmas Classics.” It was simple and festive, but easy (and inexpensive) to plan around.
A theme helps you set the tone for the party and focus your planning efforts. It also helps keep the budget under control, because you can spend less and yet have a bigger impact when your expenses are all centered around the same main idea.
2. Give your Guests a Focus.
If your group is very social & outgoing, you may not need to worry about this, but you should still be prepared just in case things start to go awry. Most people, by nature, are shy and uncomfortable in social settings, particularly if there are a lot of people they don’t know.
Ice-breaker games, while perhaps silly, can help people feel more comfortable and get things off to a light-hearted start. There are usually a few ultra-competitors in every crowd, so offering a little friendly competition can help liven things up as well. And be sure to offer prizes! They don’t have to be elaborate or expensive–for prizes this year I have put together gift baskets compiled from all my coupon shopping–just a little something to get those competitive juices flowing.
A few ideas that I have used in the past with great success include:
-Bingo-I bought this State Fair Bingo game about 5 years ago and have pulled it out for several parties over the years. It is always a huge hit! It comes with 10 cards (for small gatherings), but for larger gatherings I just print out cards for free from sites such as Print-Bingo.com. (You can also order extra cards here.)
-Icebreaker Bingo-this is more of a “getting to know you” game for crowds that include a lot of strangers.
- Trivia-Find trivia questions to go along with your party theme. The possibilities are almost endless.
-Card Toss-It’s a little silly, but a lot of fun, especially after a few cocktails. Wrap a shallow open box & grab a few old greeting cards of various size. (Preferably ones that relate to a party theme.) Each guest gets a chance to toss 5 cards (from about 6-8 feet away), and the guest with the most cards in the box wins. In the case of a tie, guests must do a toss-off! We have done this game at a few parties and the guys always get really in to it!
3. Entertain the Kiddos
If you, like me and my friends, are deeply entrenched within the small children phase of life, it doesn’t mean you can’t still throw a fabulous party (or at least fabulous to all those friends similarly tied-down with
life-sucking parasites cherubs of their own.)
Kids don’t need much–most of the time they just want to play–but make sure there are a few “kid zones” within your party environment to keep them happy. Set up a table with coloring pages or simple crafts (wrap the whole table with brown kraft paper & then just let ‘em loose), then have one room available for “play,” and another “quiet” room available for resting or watching a movie. Also, be sure to have some kid-friendly food & drinks on hand.
4. Let Your Guests Pitch In.
Guests will always want to bring something. (And if your guests don’t want to bring something, you really need to consider new friends.) This leaves you with two choices. Either a.) end up with 20 random, albeit thoughtful, hostess gifts or b.) asking your guests to bring something that will help you keep your own expenses down, such as an appetizer, dessert, or bottle of wine to share.
Letting guests help with food also helps avoid that major party pitfall of not having enough food. Bottom line: if your guests are hungry, they won’t have fun!
5. Splurge on the Unexpected.
Determine your party budget, save in every way you can, and then, if there is anything left over (and you might surprise yourself once you start to get creative), use your extra cash to surprise your guests with something unique–a babysitter, magician, or bounce house to entertain the kiddos, a bartender (try a local bartending school) to serve the drinks, or perhaps some fun door prizes. One or two splurges here and there will leave an unforgettable impression, and your party will be the talk of the town.
Bonus tip: Send Evites or Take Advantage of Almost-Free Card Promotions
Okay, so I couldn’t stick to just 5 tips! For getting people to attend your shindig, I love Evites (www.evite.com) There are hundreds of themes to choose from (great for providing party theme inspiration), it is easy to manage your guest list and see exactly how many people will be attending, they only take a few minutes to set up, they are cheaper & faster than mailing invitations but classier than a simple email or phone invite, and, perhaps best of all, they are completely free.
If real invitations are more your style, then by all means take advantage of some of the practically free card promotions that are always flying around this time of year! Ink Garden, for instance, right now has a promotion available where you can get 10 custom cards or invitations for only $1 + shipping. It’s hard to beat that!
Affiliate links may be used in this post. Printing a coupon or ordering a product through this link may result in a commission, which helps pay for the cost of running this site and keeps the content free. Read my full disclosure policy here.