Top 10 Tips for Planning Your Party Like a Pro Entertaining people in your home is always wrought with a bit of stress and anxiety. Simply getting everything ready before the party is enough to make most people pull out their hair. And, the self-doubt and worry about last minute details is enough to send most people over the edge of comfort. However, planning your party does not need to be this way. Here are ten time tested tips to help you plan the best party with the least possible pre-party stress. Tip #1 -- The best thing you can do for yourself is to write down a master party shopping list and a list of what needs to be accomplished around your home before the date of the party. Get out a calendar and mark off some time to shop and clean your home. Tip #2 -- Enlist the help of your spouse or children in the process of cleaning and de-cluttering your home for the party. While they may not do the "perfect" job that you would, you can always go back with a quick vacuum or dust cloth and finish up the job later. Tip #3 -- When your guests arrive they will need a place to hang their coats and place their purses. One of the easiest things you can do is to clean out your entry-hall coat closet for them to use. If you have a bunch of stuff in there, then you should either find it a new home or box it up until after your party is over. Tip #4 -- When you shop, think about if you will want to send home leftovers with your guests. If you will, then you should pick-up some inexpensive containers which you can send home food in and not have to worry about retrieving your plates or bowls at a later date. Tip #5 -- It is also nice to plan for enough leftovers from your party that you will not have to cook or prepare food on the day after your party. Let's face it, the day after your party you will be exhausted, and by not having to cook you can relax and enjoy the day with your family. Tip #6 -- When you go to the store to purchase the non-perishables for your party, you can leave them in the grocery bags until the day before the party. Rather than unpack everything and put it away in your cupboards where people might mistakenly eat it, you can simply leave everything in the bags and keep them in an out of the way place until the day before the party. (I highly suggest looking at everything the day before and making sure you didn't forget something at the store which is vital. This will keep you from having to make emergency store runs on the day of your party when you have other things to do.) Tip #7 -- If you are having an evening party near the Christmas holiday season, you might want to get together ahead of time with your friends and organize a cookie exchange. By doing this you can have tons of different cookies to offer your guests, even though you only had to make one kind of them. Tip #8 -- If your guests will be drinking wine, it is a great idea to use some inexpensive wine glass charms. This will allow your guests to always know which glass is theirs and keeps them from using too many other glasses. Put the charms on before your party to save time when you are serving your guest's drinks. Tip #9 -- One of the best things you can do when planning your party is to ask other people to bring food or beverages. Many times people ask what they can bring, and you should take them up on their offers. Not only does this cut-down on the budget for your party, it also allows you to spend less time cooking and more time with your guests. Tips for Preparing Your Home before You Host a Party When you are planning a party at your home, you will find that it always seems like no matter how much you clean, or how much you organize; there is always more which you could do. The key to effectively preparing your home to host a party is cleaning and de-cluttering some very vital areas. You should understand that as long as those areas care clean and clutter-free, then your guests will feel comfortable and welcome in your home. However, even the most seasoned hostess can be intimidated by trying to prepare their home for guests. So, for that reason, here are some tips from professional cleaners and organizers on how you can best prepare your home to host your party: Tip #1 -- Take a look around your home in a quick sweep and decide what you need to do. Take along a pen and paper and make notes for each room of your home. You will want a closet for your guests to hang their coats in and a place to store women's purses. While you are doing your home walk-through decide where these two locations will be and write them down. Tip #2 -- The first place you will want to start cleaning and tidying up is the entry area of your home, and then work from there cleaning the living room, bathroom, and kitchen areas. In addition, if there are other areas in your home where your guests will be, perhaps a game room or similar, that area will need a good cleaning and de-cluttering as well. Tip #3 -- While everyone has some clutter which they treasure; understand that clutter can give an even spotless home the appearance of being messy and unclean. You want your guests to be able to move freely in your home and not be knocking things off of tables or shelves. When you are cleaning for a party be brutal and get rid of as much clutter as you can bear -- even if you just simply box it and place it in the garage for the night. Tip #4 -- If you have a spouse and family, now is the time to enlist them to help you in cleaning and de-cluttering your home. You can easily assign a room to each person and have them be responsible for cleaning and removing anything in the room which does not absolutely need to be there for the party. Tip #5 -- If you have children with messy rooms, but are having an all-adult party, it is fine to simply close your children's bedroom doors and not make a big deal about them cleaning their rooms for the party. This can greatly relieve your stress pre-party. In essence, stick to cleaning rooms which you absolutely must clean because guests will be in them. Tip #6 -- If your party is informal, consider using casual serving dishes and casual eatery as well. You may even want to purchase some good quality paper plates for the event if it will be a pot-luck or BBQ type event, rather than a sit-down meal. Tip #7 -- It is important for you to know that where there are people with food and drinks, there will be spills and stains. The easiest way to deal with these issues is to be completely prepared to deal with them before they ever happen. Have a small box with cleaning supplies which you can use to clean up any messes which might occur during the party. Tip #8 -- Once your home is clean and clutter-free, then it is time to go around your home and add back some small, personal touches which make your home comfortable and inviting for your guests. You can accomplish this through the use of flowers, photographs of your family, and candles. To deal with any musty odors your home may have, you can burn candles or simmer cinnamon and cloves on the stove. Tip #9 -- Once your home has been prepared and you have a back-up plan to deal with any unforeseen stains or spills, then it is time for you as the hostess to sit back and enjoy your party. The Top 7 Tips to Help You Plan a Surprise Party Planning a surprise party can be very fun and enjoyable for all of the people who are involved. And, if you and your co-conspirators can keep up the charade until the party happens, then you can have one very surprised and happy guest of honor. Even though the secret of your surprise party lays with all of the people who will be in attendance, there are some simple things which you can do, as the party planner and host, to help ensure the best outcome possible. Here are seven tips to get you started to planning a surprise party which your friends and relatives will be talking about for years to come: Tip #1 -- Find out from your guest of honor, or even better from their significant other, what their schedule is like within the timeframe you are considering for the surprise party. Use this valuable information to set the date for your surprise party. Tip #2 -- Enlist the help of someone who can devise a fictitious activity for the guest of honor to partake in on the day of the party. The closer to your home this activity is, the easier it is for your helper to "have to stop in at your home for a moment" on the day of the party. Tip #3 -- Extend your invitations to all of your invited guests. When you make your invitations make sure that each of your guests understand that the party is a surprise and should be kept that way. Ask them to please not share the information with your guest of honor or anyone else who might mention it to them. Tip #4 -- Come up with a planned event which everyone who may run into your guest of honor can use as a diversion if they need to. However, if your guests don't think they can "lie" to the guest of honor with a straight face, suggest that they avoid them for the time leading up to the party, whenever possible and practical. Tip #5 -- Ask all of your invited guests to arrive at least thirty minutes before you expect your guest of honor to arrive. If your guest of honor generally arrives early to events, then you might want to ask your invited guests to come a bit earlier, just in case. Tip #6 -- Ask your guests to park down the street and out of sight. The only caveat to this is if the guest of honor believes they are attending another event at your home on that day. If this is the case then it won't really matter much were people choose to park. Tip #7 -- Once you have done all of the other things suggested, then the only thing you can really do is pray and hold your breath that no one will slip-up and tell your guest of honor about your planned surprise party. Planning a surprise party can be a lot of fun. If you take the time to build in some diversions into your plan, you are able to help those who might be asked questions by the guest of honor. This will ensure that they are not caught off-guard and without a good, solid, quick answer to give to any questions that they may be asked. By doing this you can have a wonderful surprise party. Good luck! The Professional Party Planner's Guide to Children's Parties Planning a birthday party for children is always fun; children have such amazing imaginations and sense of fun that they are both fun and easy to plan a birthday party for. If you are tasked with planning a birthday party for your child, take the opportunity to have some fun with ideas and plan the best party you can. You can bet that your child, and all of their friends, will love you for making the extra effort. The first consideration for any child's birthday party is to understand that the goal of the entire day, and event itself, is to make your child feel like they are king or queen for the day. The day is all about them feeling special and nothing more. The most successful child's party is one where the child is happy, their friends and family are happy, and no one ends up crying. The second consideration for a child's birthday party is what the child wants to have as a theme. If you sit down your child and ask them you might be pleasantly surprised at the simple wishes they give you. Many children want only very basic things such as a particular color or special food choice. Take your queues from your child and try to develop a party around their wishes which fits into your ability and budget. If you will be having a party where your guests are very young, you will need more adults present to help you. You cannot be in all places at all times, and by having other people at the party things will go much smoother and with much less stress. If the parents ask if they can stay for the party you want to invite them to do just that. You will need the help and you might even make some new friends in the process! If you will be inviting the children who your child goes to school with, you need to either invite the entire class, or plan on distributing your invitations outside of school. This rule is meant to keep from hurting children's feelings and is generally in effect as most schools. Before the party discuss manners with your child. Explain to them about duplicate or unwanted gifts and other times when it is appropriate to use good manners. Also, insist, gently, that guests use their best manners as well while they are in your home. This will make the day go much better for everyone. Planning crafts or games for a young child's party is essential. There is nothing worse than ten young kids with nothing to do. They will whine, fight and tear apart your house in no time flat. By keeping them occupied everyone will have a much better time. However, it is always good to plan extra activities just incase something doesn't go as well as you planned it to be. This way, you can switch to doing something else without too much hassle or complaint. It is also important to remember that a child's birthday party doesn't have to last all afternoon. A simple party which lasts two hours or so is plenty long enough, by this time the guests will likely be getting cranky and restless and you can send them on their way home. The Professional Party Planner Guide to Bridal Showers A bridal shower is one of those parties which you can throw which will be fun and yet practical at the same time. While the purpose of the bridal shower is to give the bride things which can be used in her marriage, another fun reason is that it allows some hours away from the planning and stress of the wedding itself, for the bride and family to just play games and have some good clean fun. The bridal shower is the perfect occasion to share funny family stories and for friends and relatives to gather to give the bride advice and support for her marriage. It is also another occasion which the bride gets to be the princess of the day, without having to deal with all of the stress of the wedding itself. It is a much more casual and comfortable event than the actual wedding or reception generally are. In planning a bridal shower, it is generally the responsibility of the maid-of-honor and the bridesmaids. While it used to be considered poor etiquette for anyone else to host the bridal shower, today it is perfectly acceptable. However, it is vital in your planning that you take into account the bride's wishes and don't make any plans or games which could make her feel uncomfortable or angry. You should consult with the bride and ask what she would like for her shower. Generally, it is best not to have a surprise bridal shower unless it is far before the wedding and you think the bride would really appreciate one. The bridal shower should be held between two to eight weeks prior to the wedding date. Only invited guests of the wedding itself should be invited to the bridal shower. The time of your bridal shower is up to you and the bride; however the standard tradition is generally in the early afternoon. Today some people hold their bridal showers at a spa or even on the beach for a BBQ and party; it just depends on the wishes of the bride and groom. Also, you will need to decide if the bridal shower will be a traditional "girls only" event, or if you will have couples. If you will have couples, then the party is generally referred to as a "Jack and Jill" party rather than a bridal shower. For a Jack and Jill party, gifts are generally less gender specific and more home related. In addition, the other popular themes for a bridal shower are: around-the-clock showers, lingerie showers, kitchen showers, and travel gift showers. For an around-the-clock shower, each guest is given a time of day and their gift should reflect that time when purchased. For a lingerie shower the bride is given lingerie to enjoy with her new husband after the wedding. A kitchen shower consists of all gifts being useful in the kitchen, and travel gifts are for when the couple travel together. At the end of the bridal shower make sure that you have a small sentimental gift for each of the attendees. Your gift can be something to commemorate the day, or even something simple such as a bar of gourmet soap. It is always nice to send your guests back to their homes with something special, in addition to their wonderful memories of the day. The Professional Party Planner's Guide to Party Invitations The invitation to your party is the first glimpse into your celebration for your guests. For this reason, your invitations should match the occasion in both style and theme as well. Your invitation is meant to inform your invited guests about your event, but also they are to give your invitees a small glimpse into what is to come at your party. You will want to send out your invitations at least four weeks before a smaller party, and exactly eight weeks prior for a larger event such as a wedding. You will also likely want to make sure that your party or event is not held over a holiday weekend where many of your friends and family may already have other plans, or who will not want to deal with holiday travel. The wording on your invitation should be done in a very standard way. This means that it should include the following: * All phrasing should always be in the third person style * Punctuation is never used at the ends of lines on an invitation, only on names and addresses which require them * Try not to use any abbreviations on your invitations. Spell out names, addresses, etc: fully. The one exception to this is the use of Mr. And Mrs. Both of these abbreviations are appropriate for an invitation. * Days, dates, and times should all be spelled out completely. * If you have a husband and wife who you will be inviting who happen to both be doctors, you can simply address your invitation to "The Doctors "Last Name" and it will be correct * It is always socially unacceptable to write "no children" or refer to gifts, or even no gifts, on any invitations. Each invitation should have the following information contained on it: * The name of the host or hosts * The purpose of the event * The name of the guest of honor * The day, date and time of the event * The location of the event * The address of the event with the street address only, never the zip code as this is tacky. Once you have your invitations completed, then it is time to get a friend to read over them for you and let you know if you have any mistakes in your text. This is very important because the last thing you want to do is send out all of your invitations with the wrong date or time on them. It is so much easier to catch and fix mistakes before the invitations are ever sent out. You might find it surprising to know that in this day and age you can have your invitations printed at a very reasonable cost online. In addition, if you have a good graphics program and printer, you can do them yourself. If you will be having a smaller event, it is perfectly acceptable to purchase a package of the hand-written invitations from your local store and simply write in the information on them. If you will be having a very informal party, you can have some fun and informal invitations. If you are planning a much more formal party or event such as a wedding, then you are best to stick to professionally printed invitations. The Top 10 Halloween Party Ideas for Children of All Ages Planning a Halloween party can be a very fun thing to do. Whether you will be hosting adults, children, or a mix of both, Halloween parties are fun and exciting to have and to attend. To help plan your Halloween party, and have it be the event of the year, here are some ideas to get you started in your planning: Halloween Party Idea #1 -- The first thing you need to do is to decide on a budget for your party and if you will be having adults, children, or both in attendance. Once you have made these decisions then it is time to start planning your event. Halloween Party Idea #2 -- Food and drinks are always a big part of any Halloween party. Here you can be very creative with items such as "scabs" other wise known as dried cranberries. Items such as bleeding cupcakes or things which look like eyeballs are generally a hit. Or you can go with a more traditional fare of cookies and candy. Halloween Party Idea #3 -- For beverages for your party you can make a great slimy punch out of lemonade, sugar, meringue powder, and seltzer water. To this add some green food coloring and stir. The mix will be slimy and frothy. Halloween Party Idea #4 -- Always a fun idea at Halloween parties is the addition of dry ice to beverages. This will make them send off fog and is always a hit with both adults and children. Halloween Party Idea #5 -- Decoration for Halloween is fun. You can make tombstones in the yard with simple Styrofoam cutouts and even hang lights and ghosts in your trees. Inside your home you can decorate with spider webs and other spooky items which you can purchase at any local store during the Halloween season. Halloween Party Idea #6 -- For a Halloween party you want your home to be dimly lit but not too dark so that people are tripping over things. Also a fog machine or cauldrons with dry ice in them can give a great effect. Halloween Party Idea #7 -- Music is always nice for a Halloween party. However, rather than have it playing in the room your guests will be in, try setting your tunes in a near-by room so that people can still talk and enjoy themselves. If you have a adult party use scarier music than if you are hosting children. Halloween Party Idea #8 -- Playing games is always a hit at any party. A fun game for adults is charades using scary movies and themes. For children, bobbing for apples can be fun if the weather and space allow for it. Also, contests for the best costume always go over well. (Let your guests know this on your invitations. Halloween Party Idea #9 -- If you want to amaze your friends, you can write secret messages on your drinking glasses. To do this, take a mixture of dish soap and water and write messages with it, using your finger, on the outside of some drinking glasses. Once you are finished place them in the freezer to frost over. As your guests drink, and the glasses warm, your messages will come into view. This is always something people will be amazed at and talk about for a long time to come. Halloween Party Idea #10 -- One of the best things you can do while you are planning any party, especially one for Halloween, is to go online and search for creative ideas. You will find a wealth of creativity to help you make the most of your party experience. Special Party Planning Considerations -- Entertaining the Disabled In just about everyone's circle of friends and acquaintances, there are people who are disabled in one way or another. In just my own immediate family, I have one person who is in a wheelchair and another who is on a special diet due to kidney failure. Whenever I entertain, I know that I have to take both of their special needs into consideration. For many people this is a very daunting proposition which they answer by simply not inviting their disabled friends and relatives to their parties, or simply not entertaining at all. How completely sad is that? It is very important that as you move through your daily life you understand that fact that disabled people are just like you and I. While they have additional challenges in their lives, they still enjoy the same things you and I do, and a good party is no exception! It is very possible for you to plan your party and include those with disabilities without too much extra work. The first thing you can do when you are planning a party is to plan on inviting your disabled friends and family to the event. Don't let their differences scare you away from having them to your home or event. However, you should also not be shy about asking these friends and relatives if there is anything you can do to help them navigate the area better, or if there are any dietary restrictions they have which you can plan ahead for. Even by asking these two questions, they will feel appreciated and included in your event. In addition, they will have respect for the fact that you asked the questions, many people don't bother to. The next thing you can do is to take a moment to view your home as other people will who attend your party. Try sitting down in a chair, or sitting on the floor, and have a good look around. Look at obstacles like clutter and see if you can move some things out of the way for the party time. This is especially important in tighter spaces such as bathrooms and hallways. Look for tripping hazards like stairs and see if you can highlight them better to make sure that even your visually impaired granny can see them and be able to navigate them without falling down. If you would like to invite someone to your party with a more physical disability, ask them if there is someone they would like to bring along as their caregiver. Many people will be happy that you asked and were considerate of the fact that they may need someone available to help them. Many people need help in places like the restroom, and would prefer to have someone there they trust and can feel comfortable around. If your invitee has never been to your home before, you can simply ask if they would like to come over before the event and the two of you can work on accessibility issues together. This can be a great help and make both you and your guest feel as comfortable as possible. The best thing you can ever do when entertaining is to invite those around you with disabilities. Especially during the holiday season, people can be very lonely and it only takes a nice gesture such as an invitation to a party to start to feel better about yourself and your situation. If you feel uncomfortable about the person's disability, then try talking to them about what challenges they face and what things you can do to make their stay nicer at your home. Through some simple communication, both you and your disabled friends and relatives can have some great party memories to share. Prepare Your Shopping List like a Professional Party Planner When you will be planning a party, or even planning an entire event, being well organized can set you apart from those who have a difficult time of it. Organization is your best friend when it comes to successfully planning and having a party or event of any size. And, the key to having successful organization skills lies in your shopping list. When you have an excellent shopping list, then you are sure to have all of the supplies you need on the day of your party or event. It is very easy for most people to become overwhelmed when they enter a store or mall. You walk in thinking that you know exactly what you want, and then you find yourself amongst so much amazing stuff that you start to question your original thoughts and decisions. This often leads to purchasing things you hadn't planned on. In the worst case scenario this means you forget vital items, in the best case scenario it generally means that you spend too much money and go over your budget. The simple way to avoid having this happen is to make a good shopping list and then stick to it when you shop. The first step in preparing your shopping list is to gather up a pencil and a pad pf paper. You want to label the first page of the notepad with the date of your event and any location information you might need later, such as an address or phone number, if your party will not be held at your own home. The second step in preparing your shopping list is to decide what the menu will be and what ingredients your menu requires you to have. Take the time to go through each recipe for your menu and write down each of the ingredients you will need to purchase and the quantities you will need. Each of these ingredients, with their amounts listed, will go under the heading of "food" on your master party shopping list. The third step to preparing your shopping list is to decide on any beverages which you will be serving and the quantities you need to obtain. Each of your beverages, with their amounts listed, will go under the heading of "beverages" on your master party shopping list. The next step to preparing your shopping list is to decide what party and paper goods you will need for the event or party. Consider things like plates, cups, silverware, serving bowls, centerpieces for tables, flowers, tables and chairs, etc: Make sure to write down anything you could possibly need on your master party shopping list. Now that you have an all inclusive master shopping list, it is a good idea to break that list down by stores and times when you will be buying the items listed. For example, you will likely want to shop twice at the grocery store. The first time you will want to shop for everything which will last until the date of your event; the second time you will want to shop for perishable items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and breads. This means that you want one page for the items you will purchase on the first trip, and another page for the items which you will purchase at the last minute. As you make your sub-lists, you will want to add in your shopping times to your master party planning calendar. You will likely have two grocery shopping trips, a trip to the party store, a trip to the liquor store, and a trip to the florist as well. By taking the time to schedule shopping at each of these venues, you can ensure that you do not forget to go to one store or another, and that you will have the time needed to obtain all of the things you will need to have a successful party or event. As you can clearly see, creating a master shopping list is the only way to plan a successful party or event like a professional party planner. And, through the use of sub-lists you can zero in on just what you want and ignore the other things in the store that might have otherwise tempted you. Planning an Elementary School Aged Birthday Party with Success Usually around the time that children get to be in elementary school, they discover that there is a whole world of birthday parties out there which can be just for them. It usually starts with one child having a birthday party and inviting the entire class. From there the party invitations start to come in by the droves for the rest of the elementary school year and beyond. When it is your child's turn, there is no need to panic; you can plan a fantastic elementary school party even on a low budget or without a lot of time commitment on your part. The best way to start to plan your elementary school aged party is to ask your child what kind of party they want to have. This is important because they may want to have a party similar to one which they have attended in the past. By asking them what they want, you are on your way to being able to start your planning. You do not need to be fearful that if you ask what your child wants that they will tell you they want expensive options; most children this age have pretty simple wants such as a specific theme or color scheme they desire. From their desires you can build your party plans and theme. The next decision you need to make is the location for the birthday party. For young children, who are prone to being messy, you might want to have the party at a local fast-food restaurant or similar venue. This can have the effect of the kids having some fun, and you not having a large mess to clean up after the party has finished. Another good option is a local park if the weather in your area permits it. As children get older, parties where you take the children skating or bowling can be a lot of fun. If you dread the idea of spending hours with a pack of elementary school aged children on your weekend, you might choose to have the party on a Friday evening or for just an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon. If your child is still very young, and you will have more than a couple other children at the party, you will need other adults to help you. However, if your child is in third grade or older you can probably get away with only having one other adult present to help you. When you are distributing invitations to your partiers, it is very important to remember that if you will be sending them to elementary school to be passed out, you must invite every child in the class. To do otherwise is prohibited by most schools and just simply rude as well. Noting is more hurtful than a group of elementary school children all taunting another child for not being invited to a party. For the day of the party you will want to have as much for your partiers to do as possible. While you do not want to overwhelm the children, it is important to keep them busy and occupied the entire time they are there with you. This will keep them out of trouble and having fun. It is very important that you insist on good manners from your birthday party guests as well as your own birthday boy or girl. Everyone should use the words "please" and "thank you" as well as being courteous to others. In addition, you should go over how your child will handle opening presents and what is, and is not, appropriate to say to other people about gifts. Planning a Preschool Birthday Party with Success Usually around the time that children get to be in preschool, they discover that there is a whole world of birthday parties out there which can be just for them. It usually starts with one child having a party and inviting the entire class. From there the party invitations start to come in by the droves for the rest of the preschool year. When it is your child's turn, there is no need to panic; you can plan a fantastic preschool party even on a low budget or without a lot of time commitment on your part. The best way to start to plan your preschooler's party is to ask them what kind of party they want to have. This is important because they may want, or not want, a party similar to one which they have attended. By asking them what they want, you are on your way to being able to start your planning. You do not need to be fearful that if you ask what your child wants that they will tell you they want expensive options; most children have pretty simple wants such as a specific theme or color scheme they desire. The next decision you need to make is the location for the birthday party. For young children, who are prone to being messy, you might want to have the party at a local fast-food restaurant or similar venue. This can have the effect of the kids having some fun, and you not having a large mess to clean up after the party has finished. Another good option is a local park if the weather in your area permits it. If you dread the idea of spending hours with a pack of preschoolers on your weekend, you might choose to have the party in the evening or for just an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon. Preschoolers can only have a limited amount of fun before they become stressed out and start whining and crying. You can use this to your advantage by planning a relatively short but fun party. If you will have more than a couple other children at the party you will need other adults to help you. Because preschoolers need lots of help and attention, you should have an adult for every three or four children in attendance. This will be a great help when children need help using the bathroom and other things as the party goes along. When you are distributing invitations to your partiers, it is very important to remember that if you will be sending them to preschool to be passed out, you must invite each child in the class. To do otherwise is prohibited by most schools and just simply rude as well. Noting is more hurtful than a group of preschoolers all taunting another child for not being invited to a party. For the day of the party you will want to have as much for your partiers to do as possible. While you do not want to overwhelm the children, it is important to keep them busy and occupied the entire time they are there with you. This will keep them out of trouble and having fun. It is very important that you insist on good manners from your birthday party guests as well as your own birthday boy or girl. Everyone should use the words "please" and "thank you" as well as being courteous to others. In addition, you should go over how your child will handle opening presents and what is, and is not, appropriate to say to other people about gifts. Party Planning Tips to Help You Enjoy Your Own Party Many people don't throw parties simply because they don't want to do a ton of work and then end up missing all of the fun because they are stuck in the kitchen or running around the house doing last minute necessary things. However, this doesn't have to be the way it is! You can throw and party and enjoy it at the same time. The trick to hosting a party where you can enjoy yourself is called organization. If you are organized then you can run your party without it running you ragged. If you can keep your eye on the prize, having fun at your own party, then you can organize it in a way where you actually can enjoy your own party right along with your guests. As I said previously, the key to the host enjoying their own party is organization. If you take the time to get organized before the event, then you can enjoy your party. Here are some tips to help you out. Party Planning Tip -- Make a master list of everything you need to do and purchase for your party. From this list you can easily create a timeline which allows for time to clean, de-clutter your home, shop for food and decorations, decorate, and cook. Party Planning Tip -- Decide if you will be making your own food or buying it prepared. Some things, like veggie trays, meat trays, and even cakes can be purchased inexpensively from stores like Costco for about what you could make them for. Decide early in the process if you will be making your food or buying it ready made to save time. Look at the actual costs as well as your time when you are making the decision. Party Planning Tip #1 -- Take advantage of anyone's offer to bring something for the party. Having many people bringing just one simple dish to share can save you a ton of time and energy. If your party will be all good friends and family you can even suggest they bring something with them if they have a signature dish that everyone in attendance just loves. Party Planning Tip #2 -- Shop as far ahead of time as possible for non-perishable items. Save your last day shopping for such things as fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and pastries or breads from the bakery. Party Planning Tip #3 -- If you do not have table linens, but don't want to use the paper ones, sheets work very well as alternatives. Also, make sure to place some felt or other heavy material under your table linens so your tables will not be damaged by heat or moisture. Party Planning Tip #4 -- If you hate to clean your house, or your party is approaching and you are running out of time, arrange to have your home professionally cleaned the day before your party. In addition walk around your home and remove any unnecessary clutter from shelves and other surfaces. Party Planning Tip #5 -- Let your spouse and children help you prepare for the party. Assign each a task and then simply make sure that it was completed. Remember that your guests are not coming over to inspect your home, they are coming over to enjoy your company. Party Planning Tip #6 -- If you have a pet, make sure that you have plans for how to handle their needs during your party. For a cat, you may wish to close a door to their favorite room and allow them to stay away from your guests. Once the big day of your party arrives, if you find yourself running around and not enjoying yourself, start delegating out tasks to people who ask if they can help you, or to your spouse or children -- don't try to do everything yourself! As you can see, the key to an enjoyable party is to organize, do the best you can, and then let others help you when they ask. Follow these simple tips and you will have a great party that even you as the host can enjoy. Party Planning Tips for Hosting a Potluck Party The words "potluck party" probably conger up visions of your grandma or the old ladies from church having a party; however, in today's busy times having a potluck can be a great way to get together with friends without anyone having to do too much of the work themselves. Just as you are busy each day dealing with getting the kids to school, going to work, shopping, running errands, taking the kids to their own activities, so are most of your friends and family. But, if you want to get together and enjoy each other's company for a day or evening, having a potluck party might be just the answer. A potluck allows the work of the party to be spread amongst many guests and a get together is much easier to plan this way. However, to have a successful potluck, you need to do a bit of pre-planning upfront to ensure that not all of your guests all bring the same food, or the same type of food, to the party. While your guests might have no idea what they will bring, try giving each of them a category and ask that they choose something. Even going with random suggestions of drinks, main course, desert, or salad can help to ensure that you have enough variety in your foods so that everyone can enjoy their meal. In addition to the course suggestions, there are a few other things which can make your party go much more smoothly. They are: 1. Ask all of your guests to prepare their dishes in advance and bring them in need of nothing more than a simple reheat in your microwave or oven. 2. Ask all of your guests to bring their dishes in containers which are easy to handle and will fit within the table space you have. 3. If you will be having a lot of people for your potluck, remind your guests that they do not have to feed everyone there, a normal family or 4 or 6 meal-sized portion of their food will be plenty. Most people will only take a small amount of the choices to be able to sample everything they want without being over-full. 4. Let your guests know that any simple dish is fine. Many people love to try other people's family recipes and these work nicely for a potluck party. As the potluck host, you will want to set up the table for all of the food. This should include both linen as well as potholders for your guests to set their hot dishes on. In addition you will want to have some extra serving platters, bowls, baskets, and serving utensils available as not everyone will come with their dish ready to be served. One important thing which you do not want to forget is the beverages. You can either provide these as the host, you can ask everyone to bring their own, or you can have one person who will only be bringing the drinks. In addition to the above, as the host of the potluck you get to choose what you will bring to the party. If you are hosting a large party, simply providing the location, plates, and silverware, should suffice. However, if you are having a smaller get together, then you will want to provide a dish as well. Many times the host will provide the main course, such as a turkey or roast, and ask the guests to bring along other foods such as salads and desserts.
Party Planning Tips for a Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party If you have a daughter who is turning sixteen soon, then you know the importance of having a sweet sixteen party for her. Contrary to what she might be seeing on MTV, sweet sixteen parties shouldn't look like a wedding; it should be a party simply to celebrate her sixteenth birthday and in some states her ability to get a driver's license. The sweet sixteen party which you and your daughter plan should start with picking a theme for the party, if you will have one. The theme you choose may dictate where you will hold the party. If your daughter wants a bowling party, for instance, then the party would have to be held at the local bowling alley. Some girls with summer birthdays will want their party to be on the beach or at a local pool. And, other girls want their theme to be elegant and more adult. For this last type of party you might want to have it at a restaurant or at your home. Once you have a theme and a location, then it is time for you to come up with a date for the party. Saturday or Saturday evening is generally the best times to host a party because people will be off of work and ready to do something fun for the day or evening. The time of day for your party will largely be dictated by the theme of the party you are having and its location. Once you have a theme, location, and date for the party, then it is time to start looking for just the right initiations to fit the event. You have the choice of writing in your own store-bought invitations, printing your own on your home computer, or having invitations printed. Here again, it depends largely on the theme of your party and what you have available to you in your area and online. However, you might be pleasantly surprised at the low cost of quality professional printing these days and may want to opt to have the invitations printed. Once you have your invitations addressed they should be mailed about four weeks before the party. Your goal is to give people the opportunity to attend, but not let them know so far in advance that they forget to come to the party. Generally, about four weeks is the standard as long as you are not having too lavish of an event. If there will be over a hundred people in attendance, then you might want to send out your initiations earlier, but never more than eight weeks prior to the party date. Once your invitations are sent out then it is time to work on the menu and decoration needs for the party. If you will be having an informal, family type gathering, then informal foods work very well; however, if your event is more formal or there will be a lot of people in attendance, you need to look at what foods will be appropriate. For decorations, simple elegance works very well to help to keep prices down but things appearing to be elegant. Some store-bought flowers placed in strategic places can do wonders for a room! Planning a sweet sixteen party doesn't need to be complicated or stressful. The most important part is to plan a party everyone can enjoy and remember -- especially the guest of honor. Party Planning Tips for a Safe and Sober High School Graduation Night Party In response to the yearly deaths caused by high school seniors drinking and driving on the night of their graduation, many communities now come together and host safe and sober all-night parties where the graduates can attend and enjoy one last night of safe partying with their high school friends. In most communities around the United States, these events have become very large and elaborate events in an attempt to attract as many graduating students as possible. The goal is to make them the "must attend" event of the year and have all of the students not want to be anywhere else on graduation night. Generally the planning for such an event starts well before the school year gets underway, and some parties take all year long to plan. If you are tasked with planning, or assisting in the planning of a high school graduation night party, the first thing you will need to do is find out what the costs will be and where that money will be coming from. It is common for schools to host fundraising events and dinners from which the money is specifically ear-marked for the graduation event. You can count on this event being very expensive, so it is important to plan to fundraise early and as often as possible. Also, it is important to note that if you have students who work to earn some of the money through car washes, dog washes, yard clean-up events, etc: they will feel much more part of the celebration and not want to miss the big night they have worked so hard for. Once you have a budget for the event, it is time to decide on your location and theme. If your town has an interesting attraction which might be available to you for rent, that can be a great option. However, many schools hold their events in their own gymnasiums with a lot of success as well. More importantly than the location is generally the theme of the evening and what will be happening at the party. One very popular graduation night party theme is to have a casino. As each graduate arrives they are given casino chips and are presented with tons of typical casino games to play. Many teens these days love the World Series of Poker so having Texas Hold'em tables works well. In addition, the more traditional games of blackjack and roulette are always a hit. Here in my own local area, it is popular to go out into the community to solicit donations of both money and items for the graduation party event. Each year a local car dealership even donates a brand new car to be auctioned off at the end of the event. They do so both as advertising and as a way to show that they support the idea of a safe and sober graduation night for all of the local graduating kids. You really never do know who will donate to your party until you take the time to ask around. Aim for the stars and see what your community will come up with. In many cases, you will be very pleasantly surprised. While planning a safe and sober graduation party can be a daunting task, because of its sheer size and the age of the kids who will be in attendance, it is very doable and a must have event for every community. By working together with others from the school and the community at large your event can be a great success and a tradition which will grow and grow as the year's progress. Party Planning Tips for a Quinceanera Celebration For people of Spanish decent, a Quinceanera celebration is almost as big of a deal as a wedding. A Quinceanera party is thrown for a girl when she turns fifteen and is usually a very, very big deal. The day generally consists of the birthday girl wearing a beautiful gown, a tiara, a limo ride, a church service, flowers, a bible, dancing, and more. The history of the Quinceanera celebration goes all the way back to Aztec times when fifteen was the age of marriage for girls. In Hispanic culture this tradition has carried over and at fifteen a celebration is held to signify womanhood for all Latina girls. The celebration is meant to celebrate a coming of age and is an acknowledgement by friends and family that the girl is now to be considered a young lady. Party planning for the Quinceanera ceremony begins a year before the date of the event. The first step is to reserve a church and reception hall for the event. Especially in areas with a large Hispanic population, churches and halls will be booked very early and competition can be fierce for the best venue. The traditional Quinceanera celebration is traditionally planned by friends and family of the guest of honor. However, at times a professional party planner is asked to plan the event if the family is overwhelmed or the party will be overly large. The party planner will work closely with the family and help them to make decisions on the invitations, decorations, menu, music, and more. Once the date and location have been determined then it is time to begin the other planning. The color scheme and decorations will have to be decided on and the decorations purchased or ordered. Initiations will need to be professionally printed and mailed to all invited guest about six to eight weeks before the event. The menu for the event will need to be chosen and a caterer hired. A florist will need to be consulted to make the bouquet for the guest of honor and other flowers for the church and reception hall. In today's Internet age, many young girls use websites and blogs to talk about the planning for their Quinceanera celebration. They use them to swap information with others and to get ideas for their own parties as well. Often they discuss the nitty gritty details such as what flowers to have in their bouquet and which music to use for the event. In addition to blogs and websites, it is very common today for the guest of honor to register for gifts. Gift registry items generally include dowry type items such as linens, dinnerware, and other items required to set up a home at some future date. While these are the usual gifts registered for, it is also common to find other items on a registry or for the guests to simply give the guest of honor cash in honor of the event. Another tradition today is to set up a website after the Quinceanera where the guest of honor can display all of her photos and mementos of the day. This website is generally shared with family and friends, both those in attendance and those who were not. The Quinceanera is meant to be a fun day shared with everyone and the Internet now allows for friends and relatives who are too far to make the trip to enjoy the event as well. Party Planning for a Little Girl's Princess Party If you would like your little girl to feel like a princess for a day, why not throw here a princess party? This party is excellent for little girls aged pre-school through about fourth grade, depending upon the maturity of your child and their friends who will be in attendance. A princess party is a time where you can treat your child like royalty and indulge here in her every wish, within reason of course. A princess party is one she is sure to remember and treasure for the rest of her life. The first thing you will want to do before the party is to decide on the decorations, activities, and food which will compliment your princess party theme. Take out a sheet of paper and a pen, and start taking notes and brainstorming ideas which you can use to meet your own home and specific needs. This will help you to create a shopping list for your party and a timeline to get everything accomplished. As for decor, just about anything goes to decorate your castle, otherwise known as your home. Using a lot of pink and purple is always a good choice for a princess party. You can use pastel pink and purple steamers and balloons along with a matching tablecloth and napkins. For a nice added touch you can use complementary colored plates and cups. You can also tie your napkins with a nice fancy ribbon which is only fit for a princess and her castle. If you have pink or purple fabric on hand, you might want to cover your party room chairs with it and tie it into big bows at the back. If you do not have any fabric, check your local thrift stores for a sheet in the right color which you can cut up and use for the day. For your princess party invitations you will want to ask your guests to come dressed in their best outfits and ready to be pampered for the party. Or, simply let them come in their everyday clothing and add to their outfit when they arrive. You can purchase inexpensive feather boas which the girls can wear around their shoulders for the party and then take home afterward. Also readily available are simple tulle skirts which can transform their outfit into one fit for a princess. A good idea is to have each guest in pink while the guest of honor is in purple, or vice versa. Once your guests arrive you can have them decorate their own princess cone party hats with such items as gems, confetti, and feathers which you have purchased from the local dollar or discount store for the purpose. Once their hats are decorated, then you can staple on streamers or ribbons to the top of the hat so that they flow out when they move or twirl. A fun game to play is "Princess May I?" which is the same on the old traditional game "Mother May I?" Have the guest of honor be the princess and allow her to play the role of the mother in the more traditional game. Once your craft project and game are done, then it is time to seat your princess on her own thrown to enjoy a nice tea party. The best foods to serve are sandwiches cut into hearts or stars with cookie cutters. The beverage of choice could be a pink lemonade served in either fancy plastic glasses or in tea cups. Your cake can either be a princess or a castle. Both options are fairly easy to make, or they can be purchased if you so choose. If your local stores carry piņatas, you can fill one with candy such as gold chocolate coins, ring lollypops, and candy necklaces to help round out the theme and give the girls something fun to do. They can take home the candy from the piņata in their very own princess goodie bags. A Party Planner's Guide to the Best 4th of July Celebration Ever If you are looking for something special to do for this year's 4th of July celebration, throwing an awesome party can be both fun and rewarding for you, your family, and your friends. Ever since the first 4th of July celebrations in the late sixteenth century, parades, festivals, feasts, and fun have been the norm. Today, a celebration usually starts with a party at someone's home or a local park, and then ends up with watching the community fireworks go off at the local community park. If you would like to have a 4th of July party this year, the first thing that you will want to decide on is the location you will have it at and the time your party will start. While clean-up is much easier if you have your party at a local park, there will be many other families trying to have their celebrations at your local park as well. For this reason, you might choose to have your party at your home and go to the park later in the evening to watch the fireworks. You will need to send out invitations to your 4th of July party as soon as you know where it will be held. Your invitations are the first sign to your guests of what your party may bring. By either printing or purchasing some theme invitations you can start to set your party's theme even before the big day. This will help your invited guests to begin to get excited about attending your event. Once you have your initiations you should fill them out by hand, or print them on your computer, and make sure to include your phone number on them. In addition, if your party will be held outside make sure you let your guests know this so they can bring the appropriate clothing for the event. Decorating for your 4th of July party can be one of the most fun parts to the day for you. With a red, white, and blue patriotic theme you can really go all out with streamers and Balloons. Your plates, cups, napkins and tablecloths can be red, white, or blue or a nice combination of all of them. In addition, add some American flags in appropriate areas to show your patriotism. Hanging a large American flag near your front door or garage is a very appropriate thing to do for the 4th of July. The typical menu for a 4th of July celebration is hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, potato salad, and anything else you might have at a family barbeque. For desert you can make a wonderful creation using red and blue Jell-o or a simple white cake with red and blue icing. No party is ever complete without some music, and the 4th of July is no exception to this. However, mixed into your regular dance tracks should be some more traditional patriotic American music as well. Songs such as "America the Beautiful" and "The Stars and Stripes" are meant to be played on the 4th of July and will be enjoyed by all. Make sure that during the daytime hours you take some time out to take photos of your guests in places such as in front of the American flag. These photos can later be printed or e-mailed to your friends and family as mementos of the day. In addition, they can be shared with loved ones who were not able to attend the event itself. A great ending to a 4th of July party is a trip downtown to your local community park to watch the local fireworks. If your city or town allows it, take some sparklers and safe fireworks with you for the kids to enjoy while you wait for it to be dark enough for the bigger fireworks. Most important of all is to enjoy your 4th of July celebration and remember that it is about spending time with friends and family as well as the independence of our country. Party Planning Tips for a Successful Italian-American Dinner Party Through the years, the Italian people have always been known for one special thing, which could be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere -- their food! Italian food is one of the most versatile and well loved throughout the world, and this makes it the perfect candidate for the menu for a dinner party. In fact, rather than simply use the Italian food for the party; you can use an entire Italian theme to make your own Italian-American dinner party your guests will be talking about for years to come. The best day to plan your Italian-American dinner party is one in which your guests will have a long time to linger around and enjoy all of the food you have to offer them. In Italy, this day of the week is generally Sunday. The informal gathering usually starts around one, since many people attend morning mass services, and doesn't end until the evening time when it is time to take your children home to bed. Your own Italian-American dinner party can be one of comfort and relaxation. The focus should be on the food rather than on the table and room decorations. Your tablecloth should be simple white linen and flowers for the table are unnecessary. The best centerpieces are a bowl of nuts, some fresh breads, dishes of grated locatelli or parmesan cheese, and simple crushed red pepper flakes. Your dinner service can be your everyday dishes and even the incorporation of simple plastic dinnerware for the children. The beverage you will want to serve at your Italian-American dinner party is a simple wine. Italian people enjoy wine with their meals and the wine is an excellent compliment to the various Italian foods you will be serving. For those guests who do not drink alcohol, consider having some soda and bottled water available as alternatives. The first course of food for your Italian-American dinner party should be an antipasto made up of meats (ham, salami and prosciutto), marinated vegetables, cheeses such as provolone and mozzarella, and roasted red peppers. Your antipasto course can be served on a tray or mixed together in a bowl with an Italian dressing poured over it. The second course of food for your Italian-American dinner party should be a simple Italian soup. The soup should be served in small bowls so that everyone in attendance doesn't become too full to enjoy the next courses of your meal. Generally after serving your antipasto and soup, then comes the main pasta and tomato sauce dish. The most popular options for your pasta dish are homemade ravioli, lasagna or manicotti served with a meat sauce which may or may not include meatballs. To accompany your main dish you might choose to serve such foods as sweet potatoes, artichokes, salads or string beans. While you want the focus to be on your main dish, you also want your guests to have some variety to choose from at all times. For your desert course at your Italian-American dinner party, you should choose something from the following list: fresh in season fruits, figs, cakes, cookies or an Italian pastry. Because your guests will likely be very full, plan to serve desert at least one hour after the main meal, and allow for it to be something light rather than something rich and heavy. It always amazes me that the above is the typical Sunday for most all Italian families. How they manage to eat all of this food, week after week, and yet not gain a lot of weight is a serious mystery to behold. However, for your once in a while dinner party, a traditional Italian feast makes a wonderful, and simple, menu which will be enjoyed by both the adults and children in attendance. The most important thing you need to remember about hosting an Italian-American dinner party is that it is all about your guests and the food, not about the cleanliness and order in your home. Cook some good food, and enjoy your friends and family. A Professional Party Planner's Guide for Hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner Party If you are looking to plan an amazing and memorable party for adult guests, consider the idea of hosting a murder mystery dinner party. I have had the pleasure of attending a murder mystery dinner party in the past, and I can tell you that we all simply had a blast. You may be wondering exactly what a murder mystery party is about. If so, I can tell you that it was similar to a murder mystery dinner theater, except that we as the guests were the actors rather than simply observers trying to figure out who was the murderer. And, unlike professional dinner theater, all of the guests had a much easier time communicating their clues to each other. When you are planning your murder mystery party, you have two options as for what to do about the storyline and characters. The first is that you can attempt to create your own murder mystery. The second, and much more common, is to purchase a kit from your local party store. The party kit will contain a murder mystery story, a specific number of characters (depending on how many people will be at your party), background information on the characters, costume suggestions for guests, a package of clues for each guest, and usually initiations to the party itself. In addition, many kits come with a guide that you can follow to have a fun and successful party; and some even come with gifts to give to the winners of the game. Some guides let the party host know how the murderer is; other kits let that be a surprise. When you are throwing a murder mystery dinner party it is vital that all of your characters attend and come on time as well. Let your guests know this ahead of time and require a simple RSVP for the evening early enough in the planning process that you can always find new characters to attend if you need to. The worst thing that could happen is that your murderer will be absent from the party -- and how horrible would that be! Once you know for sure who will be attending your murder mystery dinner party, then it is time to deliver to each person the information on who their character is, their costume suggestions and their specific background story to share with the other guests as part of the game. As the evening progresses your guests will be providing each other with information which has come from your kit. It is common for a murder mystery dinner party to start out with each person introducing their character. Then, between courses, each person will again speak about their character and give hints which will be needed to solve the murder mystery. When you run your dinner in this fashion, you can count on your dinner lasting about two to three hours, and your mystery to be solved during, or directly after, your desert time. The murder mystery dinner party I attended was a mob hit in Italy. We came to the party dressed as stereo-typical mob characters from the old days, and our location was in a local Italian Restaurant. We had all of the characters you can associate with the mob, and we shared our information and hints with each other between courses. Our murder mystery dinner party lasted about three hours and our murderer was given a small prize for the amazing acting they did that night. A murder mystery dinner party can be a great escape for you and your friends to play one night while the kids are out of the house. The only real limitation on the evening is your own imagination and that of your friends and relatives who you invite. This is definitely an informal party and one which you will want to invite everyone you know to attend -- especially the "odder" people in your life. To your party! A Professional Party Planner's Guide to Hosting a Cocktail Party One of the most fashionable parties for adults these days to have are cocktail parties. Even thought their popularity has fallen off over the last few decades, cocktail parties have reappeared on the party scene and are now even more fashionable than they ever were before. While many adults in the United States today enjoy beer and wines, the mixed drinks of the past are really starting to become more and more in vogue again. Now days when you walk into a typical bar, you will see many more people ordering mixed drinks than they have in the last decade or two. Some of the most popular today is the apple martini, chocolate martini, dirty martini, and the cosmopolitan. One of the best things about planning a cocktail party is that they generally only last a few hours. In addition, your guests will be wandering around mingling and snacking rather than sitting around a table eating a full meal with each other. This makes the cocktail party perfect for inviting people who may or may not already know each other. One of the easiest things about planning a cocktail party is the fact that you can have just about any menu your want, as long as the food is complementary to the most popular mixed drinks that is. Guests who come to a cocktail party know that they are only there to snack, have a drink or two, and mingle. Because of this, you can supply a wide variety of finger foods and be confident that everyone present will find something agreeable to them. Here are some professional party planner's tips on hosting an amazing cocktail party that everyone will remember and be talking about. Tip #1 -- You will need way more ice for your cocktail party than you think you will. The standard rule of thumb is to have about a pound of ice per guest who will be in attendance. However, I believe even a bit more is advisable. Tip #2 -- Different beverages are consumed from different glass styles. Make sure that you have a large assortment of the appropriate glasses for your guests. And, it is always a good idea to have many extras. If you will be serving wine, it is a good idea to use wine glass charms so people will stick to using their same glass throughout the night. Tip #3 -- The most important part of your cocktail party planning is making sure you have enough supplies on hand. The most important of these supplies is your alcoholic beverages. A good bar should be stocked with the ingredients for each of your friend's favorite drinks, or as a basic level at least those used to make the most popular drinks of the day, plus beer and wine. Tip #4 -- If you do not know anything about mixing drinks, you can always enlist the skills of one of your friends or relatives to play bartender for the evening; however, if you will be having a very large cocktail party then you might want to consider hiring a professional bartender for the night. Many local catering services will have bartenders who can work for you at your party. They are not terribly expensive and do a wonderful job. Tip #5 -- When you are hosting a party where alcohol is consumed, you should always offer food and coffee to your guests as well as make sure they have a designated driver to get them home safely. Please do not ever let your guests drink and drive. It's not safe for them and the other people on the road. And, it can also land you in jail if they get in an accident after drinking at your home. It simply isn't worth it! As you can clearly see, hosting a cocktail party is not complicated and can offer you a wonderful excuse to have your friends and family over for an evening of adult fun. A Professional Party Planner's Guide to Classroom Parties In my opinion, nothing can be more fun and challenging than planning an elementary school classroom party. Whether the event is Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, or the end of the school year, you can use your creativity and really have some fun in your planning. And, because your attendees are all children, your efforts will not go unnoticed or unappreciated as they can with adults. The first thing you need to do is meet with the teacher and any other parents who have offered to plan or help with the party. Before any planning can take place, it is imperative that everyone be on the same page and understands what the party will look like once it is all planned out. Good planning and communication early in the process can go a long way towards heading off potential problems later on. The classroom teacher needs to let you know how much time will be allocated for the party and at what time it will happen. In addition, the teacher will need to let you know what roll she wishes to play in the party planning and in the event itself. Some teachers prefer to let the parents handle the entire party from planning to the big day, while others prefer to have more of a say and an active roll in the planning and the party itself. To plan the party itself, ask the teacher what foods they prefer be served. Would they like to go with snacks? Healthy foods? Cupcakes and cookies? Find out what is easiest and what will make the least amount of mess in the classroom which will have to be cleaned up at the end of the party. When the topic of purchasing food comes up, this is a good time to ask if the school can provide anything for the party, if a collection will be taken up from each of the families who have kids in the class, or it the parents will be paying for it themselves. A lot of times the budget for the event will have a lot to do with the planning for the party. The next item for discussion is the activities, if any, for the party. Will the children be playing games, making a fun craft project to take home, etc: One of the most appreciated crafts around holiday times can be something that the kids can make at school and then wrap and present to their parents as gifts for the occasion. With some creativity this can be done relatively inexpensively. If the teacher prefers to let the parents plan the party, the teacher can leave the meeting and the parents can meet, or plan to meet again, to plan more of the details of the day. While planning the party with other parents it is always a good idea to make sure you have back-up plans incase one of the parents doesn't do what they said that they would, or doesn't show up the day of the party. Unfortunately, things like that do happen and it is just so much better to be prepared for them ahead of time than to be caught on the day of the party without supplies or enough people. With these professional party planning tips you can make your children's parties the best in the school! 7 Professional Party Planner Tips for Clearing and Cleaning After a Large Meal It is always fun to plan an elaborate party and see it come to life. However, in addition to the pre-work of the party, afterwards always comes the drudgery of the after meal clean-up, including clearing the table and washing up the dishes. Here are some professional party planning tips for dealing with your after meal clean-up and dish washing to help make your life a bit easier. Tip #1 -- Devise a simple plan ahead of time on how you will deal with such issues as storing your leftover food items, dishwashing, and trash disposal. If you will be keeping leftover food items for your family to eat at a later time, then make sure you have enough of the right sized bowls and platters to store them on in your refrigerator. If you will be sending leftovers home with other people take the time to purchase some appropriate disposable containers which you can give to them and not have to worry about them being returned. For the dishwashing component, decide ahead of your meal which items can go in your dishwasher and which cannot. For your trash and recyclable items, have bags inside containers placed at strategic locations around your home. Assign someone to look at them from time to time and empty them when necessary. Tip #2 -- One of the best things you can do to make your life easier post-meal is to start off with a clean kitchen and refrigerator. The day before your party take the time to clean out your refrigerator and remove all unnecessary clutter from your kitchen and countertops. By doing this you will be able to work on your counter tops and easily clean them. In addition, you will be able to simply open the refrigerator to store things without having to move things around to make room. Tip #3 -- Another one of the best things you can do for yourself is to clean up your dishes and messes as you are preparing the meal itself. Your goal should be to sit down at the table with your guests, with as little waiting in the kitchen to be cleaned up as possible. By doing this, you can ensure that the only dishes which will have to dealt with are those which are sitting on your table. Tip #4 -- Once your meal has concluded is the time where you should gather up all of the dishes from the table, scrape them, start soaking them in water while you continue to clear the table of leftovers, and then wash all of your dishes either in the dishwasher or by hand. While it is always very tempting to let the dishes sit until your guests have gone home, you will find the work is much easier if you do it right away at the conclusion of the meal. While you are clearing off the table gather up any leftovers and immediately put them into containers and into your refrigerator for safety. Tip #5 -- It is polite for people to ask to help clean-up after the conclusion of a meal. Allow your friends and family to help you out. This will make your clean-up go much quicker and smoother. It will also allow you to get back to enjoying your company as soon as possible. Tip #6 -- Your party day is not the time to deal too much with what goes in your dishwasher and what you hand wash. Things which are dishwasher safe should go in the dishwasher, and when it is completely full that is the time you should start hand washing what is left. Hand washing while everything is soaking makes it a very easy task, and your hand washed dishes can then rest on a drying rack while you get back to your party and guests. Tip #7 -- If you find a pot which is very miserable to wash and doesn't want to come clean, let it soak overnight with a solution of baking soda and dish soap. This will allow it to be easily cleaned the next morning. While clearing the table and washing dishes is never the most fun part of a party, it can be relatively simple and pain free when you incorporate the tips above. 7 Party Planning Tips for Building Your Party Timeline One of the best things that you can have when you are planning a party or event of any size is a written party timeline and master shopping list. By making yourself a good solid timeline and comprehensive list for shopping, you can ensure that your party goes off without a hitch. Here are seven tips from professional party planners to get you on the right track in planning your shopping list and timeline: Tip #1 -- No matter what the size of your event, if it is for children or adults, a wedding or a simple birthday party, you must have a master shopping list as well as a good timeline. Simply use a pen and paper and decide on how long things will take you to do and start filling in your timeline. And, while you are going through the process, this is the time to start a shopping list as well. Tip #3 -- Before you can start to build your timeline and shopping list, first you must decide on where your party or event will be held and how many people you will be inviting. If you will be using an event location or a restaurant, you need to secure your space before moving along to do anything else. Tip #3 -- Once you have secured your location for your party, then you can start to build your lists. To start building your timeline think about the things you will need to do before the party, such as send out your invitations. If you will be having them custom printed you will need to allow extra time for the printing before you can mail them out to your guests. Tip #4 -- Now that you have your date and location secured, and you have ordered your invitations, if necessary, then it is time to think about what you will be doing at your party, what type of food and drinks will be on the menu, and how long you want the party to last. Dedicate a single sheet of paper just to your party day and list everything you will need to do, in order, by time. For example, preparing food before guests arrive would be at the top of the sheet of paper, while giving out party favors may be at the absolute bottom. Tip #5 -- In addition to your timeline for the day of the party, you will also want to formulate a timeline for the two weeks or so leading up to the event. Here you will need to block out time for cleaning, shopping, decorating, etc: Tip #6 -- As you do each of the steps above, you will start to develop a good timeline and a great shopping and supplies list of things which you will need. This will be a great help to you and can even help you to remember to pick up things that you might otherwise have forgotten. In addition, you will also start to see if there will be any conflicts in your timeline where you might need to move a few things around or enlist the help of others. Tip #7 -- Once you have your lists generated then it is time to stick to them and make sure everything gets done. If you are finding that you have more work to do than time to do it in, it is perfectly acceptable to ask other people to help you with carious parts of the event. In fact, most people you will find would be happy to help you. If you will be hosting a party or event, the best thing you can possibly do for yourself is to follow these tips, and others you hear from friends, and develop yourself a good timeline and master shopping list. By writing things down, you will much more clearly see what you need to do and what you will have time to do yourself. 15 Professional Party Planning Tips for Corportate Events One of the hardest events for most people to plan are corportate events. Even smaller events, for less than a couple hundred people, can be a real challenge if you are not a professional party planner. However, here are fifteen tips you can use to make your corporate party or corproate event a success: Tip #1 -- Always take the time to plan ahead. If you will be renting a special venue you will need to secure it as far in advance as possible. Some places can book up even a year in advance. By finding your venue early, and placing your deposit, you can ensure that you get the venue that you want. Tip #2 -- When you are planning a corporate event you need to set a very strict working budget and then make sure that you have extra cash for the unexpected expenses. You can be sure that every event will have some unexpected extra expenses, that is just simply part of planning an event. Tip #3 -- If you have contracts, agreements, lists, or seating charts, make sure you keep extra copies of them incase they are misplaced or lost. Copying them is very simple and quick and can really save you later on if you loose your plans. Tip #4 -- Make sure you send out your invitations at least 3 to 4 weeks ahead of your event. In addition, make sure that you ask your guests to RSVP so that you know how many people will be attending. Tip #5 -- If you are creating a seating chart for your event, you can either set it up completely randomly or work with someone else in your company to come up with the best possible scenario. Tip #6 -- If you want a good attendance at your event, it is a good idea to schedule it earlier in the week or a long way away from any major holidays. People tend to vacation over holidays and often have plans on weekends, making Friday and Saturday bad days to have a business function. Tip #7 -- It is important to know when to use a theme and when not to. A child's birthday party is an appropriate time to use a theme, while a corportate event requires much less of a theme and more plain elegance than anything else. Tip #8 -- When you are having a business event, keep the music mellow and something that everyone can enjoy. Tip #9 -- If you will need equipment such as microphones, projectors, speakers, a video camera. etc: you want to make a list of the things you will need and make sure that you also have someone on site who can fix any techincal problems which may come up at the event. Tip #10 -- When you are planning an event, especially a large event, make emergency and contingency plans in case of disaster, illness, or any other emergency. Tip #11 -- It is important to take into account the special accommodations which will be needed by any disabled attendees. If you do not know what someone will need, you can always simply ask them. They will be happy that you cared enough to ask and understand that you didn't have any other way to get the information. Tip #12 -- If you are planning a very large event, you might want to take a project management approach to it. Use a master plan, and delegate tasks to others where you reasonably can. Tip #13 -- If your event will be longer than two hours, your guests will expect at least a snack to eat. You should have a meal if your event is longer than four hours. At all times, you should have at least water and coffee available to your guests. Tip #14 -- Communication is a major key to the success of an event. If you are using vendors, make sure they have very clear and specific instructions of what you are expecting of them. Tip #15 -- Whenever you plan an event, make sure you take things like transportation, parking, etc: into the equation. The last thing you want is for your guests to have to walk a long way to the event or to go home because they couldn't find a place to park.
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