Check out our super handy, EXCLUSIVE party planning e-guide to help you host the perfect party!
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We both have a background in event management and love hosting parties. Over the years, we've come up with a mass of tips and tricks to help make the party planning experience less of a hassle. These tips, along with a great range of resources we personally use, will guarantee you a great hosting experience.
- Make your own mini-kits to make the day easier. For example, when you’re having a barbecue, assemble a kit of cooking utensils in a bucket or container, so you don’t have to keep trekking to the kitchen to find thing you’ve forgotten. Do the same with your condiments, or even cleaning supplies.
- If you’re hosting an outdoor event, clean off all of your tables and chairs the day before – try to make that ‘day of party’ list as short as possible!
- Set up separate garbage, recycling and compost bins, to save you having to sort through things post-party
- Try to clean as you go – it is guaranteed to lessen the post-party fatigue.
- Labelling cups might seem like something that only suits a kids party, but if you want to minimise the confusions of “Which one’s mine?”, then do it!
- If you’re short on time, cleaning wipes are a lifesaver. There are wipes for glass, wood, floors, BBQs – and some of them aren’t that expensive. Think of all the time you’re saving!
- Leftovers? Don’t waste them, ‘repurpose’ them. There are some excellent leftover recipes on Taste, but I also love sites like Yummly and Epicurious – just pay attention to measurements, as most recipes are in imperial.
Themes and decoration:
- Use the ‘Rule of 3’ to get a theme happening and make it all look more harmonious. Generally, it helps to select three items in one colour or shade, shape, style or pattern. Two blue items? Things start to look ‘matchy’, but three blue items? Definitely a theme! Also think about placing items in groups of three, e.g. a cluster of vases, a group of balloons, rows of party/favour bags.
- Don’t over do it. Ok, so you have three blue items. Don’t go and buy 20 more. Try different shades of blue, or patterns with blue in it, or even a complementary or contrasting colour. Yellow and orange are perfect with blue. If you need help with a colour scheme, try making your own with Adobe’s Kuler
- More on over doing it… Check out Pinterest for some inspiration, but try not to get carried away. A few minutes on Pinterest can quickly turn into hours; your theme might have changed ten times and you’re now looking at spending thousands. Keep it simple and don’t make the to-do list unachievable – you don’t want your only memory of the event being how much you didn’t get done, or how stressed you were.
- If Pinterest is too overwhelming, creating a Moodboard might be your thing. A few pictures and colour swatches might be all you need to get the party going. There are plenty of free and paid tools, but I particularly love Moodboard for the iPad. Other fun tools include Sampleboard and Olioboard, which are excellent for wedding planning and interior decorating. (speaking from experience)
- DIY inspiration blogs: Sites like Hostess with the Mostess (HWTM) and Studio DIY are excellent. Be warned with HWTM though, if you’re just starting out it may seem overwhelming – pick a few items as inspiration and add your own style.
- Printables: THE most massive thing in DIY parties, there are huge stores on Etsy dedicated to personalised, printable labels, signs, invitations and cards. They’re a simple and cost effective way to make the theme go a little further.
- Party theme ideas: There are hundreds of websites with theme ideas, not to mention Pinterest. A few of our favourite themes include:
- Onesie party
- ‘What you want to be when you grow up’ party
- Heroes and villains party
- Animal party
- Gift-wrapping: Don’t forget the gifts! An art form in their own right, wrapping papers and gift tags have come a long way since the jelly bean wrap circa 1990 (though it’s still available). Check out sites like Inky Co and Hipp for some beautiful and unique wrapping ideas.
- Re-use your decorations. Streamers, balloons, honeycomb balls and paper garlands all make great decorations for a kid’s room. They’re an extremely cost effective way of giving a room a cute and fun makeover.
Food and drink:
- Catering quantities: We love this infographic from Chickabug, outlining how much to serve at a party (note that 1 gallon = a little less than 4 litres).
- Drink quantities: If you’re having a grown up party – check out Dan Murphy’s for their beverage buying calculator.
- Short on time, or don’t have a car? Try shopping online for groceries. The major supermarkets often have discounted delivery for your first order, or sometimes even free delivery over a certain amount. Getting all of those bulky items like drinks delivered not only saves your back, but also allows you to plan in advance and not be rushing around the grocery aisles at the last minute.
- Choose a couple of things you can cook the night before – things like cakes or desserts will still be fresh the next day, and it saves a heap of time.
- Enlist help from friends; some people have bags of chips or cheese and crackers lying around from the last occasion. If someone offers to bring something, let them!
- Use a roll of wrapping paper as a table runner - it will instantly uplift your table, it's recyclable AND doesn't need washing.
- Fill the bathtub or laundry tub with ice and use as cooler (make sure it’s clean, of course)
- Overturn a stool, place a garbage bag inside, and voila, a garbage bin! You can also do the same sort of thing with beer boxes, etc.
- Empty wine, beer or spirit bottles? Soak off the labels and you’ve got some new vases.
- For more, check out Buzzfeed’s summer party hacks. Though you’ve already taken care of #2 by shopping at The Kit Source!
- Adults: Cards against humanity. This is a hilarious game that can last for hours, but be aware, it’s highly offensive so you can’t take things personally.
- Kids: I don’t know about you, but pass the parcel and that game that involves donuts hanging from the washing line are fun as hell. But if you’re after some more party game ideas, Kidspot has a long list of great ones.
- Music: If you’re like us and can’t be bothered putting together a playlist (because it’s impossible to keep everyone happy), think about using a popular playlist or station on Spotify or Rdio. Pandora or iTunes Radio are also great if you want to make sure the music never stops.
Setup and venue:
- Room layout: Your house might be set out perfectly for your family, but add twenty people and it quickly leads to chaos. Pay attention to the amount of space around tables, chairs and serving areas. There’s nothing more frustrating than tripping around a table of guests and your food ending up on the grass! If you really want to pre-plan the layout, check out Floorplanner, so you can create your own. This tool is very useful, especially for larger events where you’re bringing in tables, etc.
- Invitations: If you’re having a party in a large park, or live in an area that’s hard to find, make sure you include a map, directions and maybe even parking instructions – not everyone has the foresight to Google map it before they get on the road.
- Make sure there are adequate bins. It’ll make the clean up easier and the environment less “day after college party”.
- Try to be considerate of neighbours, inform them prior to your party if you can, and expect a visit from the police if things get too rowdy late at night. If you’re having a kid’s party, this is probably less of an issue, but squealing children might not be appealing to a shift worker trying to sleep in the middle of the day.
- If you’re not providing a meal, but your party falls within a typical meal time, make sure you tell your guests. No one wants to turn up to a party at 6pm, expecting to be fed, only to find that chips, dip and birthday cake are the extent of the menu. Again, it’s just about being considerate.
- Party pets: Some pets LOVE hanging with masses of guests (i.e. love the constant pats and treats), but some pets get anxious. If you have a pet like our Cordy, reduce their stress by keeping them in a comfy environment with food and water. This also reduces the likelihood that they’ll get their paws on stray chocolate or other party treats they shouldn’t have.
- Bugs: If you’re partying in the summer, repellent is a given. Make sure you’ve got some on hand for your guests and think about investing in citronella candles or torches. Everyone will thank you.