How to organise a party to remember

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YMCA

This post contains links to some items we have been sent in return for a mention

 

If you are anything like me, you spend months organising a party and then the event itself goes in a flash and you think “blimey, was that it?”.    But your guests tell you it was a party to remember, and for all the right reasons.  Phew.   I have been to a few where it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.  And as this blog doesn’t come with a PG certificate I think I will leave it there.

We recently organised a triple birthday party with an added “New Year’s Honours” mention on top.   My dad, Mr B and my eldest C, all had birthdays within five days of each of other, two of them significant so we decided back in January that we would throw a party.

And then promptly did nothing about it until mid April.

These though are my top tips for organising a party that goes off without a hitch

Venue

Get your venue right.  I did ask C if she wanted us to hire a hall with a bar for her birthday party and she said she didn’t.   She wanted it to be at home, in the garden as they are much more fun.   Thankfully we have a garden that works quite well for parties and we have the space to do it.    What you can’t do though is predict the weather, so we did borrow a gazebo from friends so that when it did rain for half an hour we had shelter, and the table was protected.

Guest List

Have one.  Don’t have several.  On different computers.  Or scraps of paper.  Or even in our head.  Have one list and make sure that all those you want to invite are on the list from the outset and really think about it before sending out invites.  There is nothing worse than a friend being asked if they are attending your party by another friend only to realise that is the first they heard of it.  No matter how many times you say “You are next on our invite list” they won’t believe you.   Ditto making sure you don’t forget people completely.  Or invite people twice if you are both organising as they just make it look like you don’t really know what’s going on (which is often the case in our house to be fair but we try and do a good job of hiding it.

Even use Facebook events as that is a great way of sending out messages and seeing exactly who has been invited and who has accepted.  Or not.  Yes Bruce I am looking at you.   You didn’t even accept the invite to your own party.

Rude.

Timings

Get your timings right!  We didnt really want it to be an “adults only” evening event, we wanted friends with small children to be able to come too.     And to be able to invite 80 odd people (that’s 80 ish people, not 80 people who are odd, I would just like to clarify) and them not all turn up at once.   So we did a 3pm onwards invite. Those that could come all day, did.  And those that were working or busy during the day came in the evening.

Entertainment

Talking of small children, we have found it is a good idea to have something to keep them amused.  Happy children makes for happy grown ups in our experience.   So we hire a bouncy castle as it can keep children amused for hours.  And grown ups.   Ahem.  Even though ours had a strict “no over 12s” rule, it seemed to be the rule that all adults did break at least once.

Bouncy Slide

Food

Probably the most important thing to think about and if you are doing an all day party you need to make sure that not all food goes out at the start or it will look a bit past it when your evening guests rock up.    We didn’t get this right this year unfortunately because I got stuck into the Pimms a bit too early and Mr B was being a social butterfly.   Hotdogs for the early crowd and then chilli and rice for the later lot.  Except we couldn’t find the rice so it was spaghetti.    We also had some nibbles but not nearly enough and should have got more things like sausage rolls and samosas etc.   As people do tend to graze when eating.  You can never have too much food in my opinion!

Cake

Or cake.  My word you can never have too much cake.   We had a Choccwoccydoodah cake this year because, well because they are most amazing cakes ever and I thought this quadruple celebration was worthy of a rather epic cake.   There is something magical about ordering a bespoke birthday cake that I don’t think I would ever get tired of.  Nor would I tire of said cake arriving in a transit van and being “installed” on a coffee table and coming with storage and cutting instructions.   It should have been a surprise for the day but as soon as it got here I couldn’t resist posting a pic or two online.   On the day I think it got more fuss and attention than any guest.

You don’t really get a sense of how huge this cake really was.    There were 200 portions.  It was enormous.  And delicious, as I knew it would be as we are huge fans of all things Choccy

Cake Cutting

Drinks

We always over cater on the drinks front.  I forget that people bring drinks and then we end up with more than we started with.   We do always have a bucket (I say bucket, I mean a 30L swing bin dustbin) of Pimms though and this year I think that bucket turned into the magic porridge pot because as fast as we were drinking it the damn thing was not getting shallower.  We also like to have plenty of white wine and generally go for the Lindeman‘s Chardonnay because it is always fabulous and the perfect drink for a summer party in the garden.

For the non drinkers I also make sure we have plenty of juices that show we have thought about them as much as the drinkers.  There is nothing worse than being offered a glass of room temperature flat lemonade, or a pint of some cheap and nasty Coke knock off.

Decorations

It’s always fun to have more decorations than just a few balloons.  I was chuffed to bits when Hello Party got in touch with me via Twitter and asked if I would like some personalised banners for the event.  I leapt at the chance, after all who doesn’t love something with their name on?!  Especially when it’s bunting.  Their website couldn’t be more straightforward.   You simply pick the theme you want (and there are loads to choose from) and then do all the personalising you like, you can even add pics.  I ran out of time so it was all done for me after I picked the theme I wanted, they did the rest and they arrived beautifully packaged two days later.

 Hello Party Bunting

Hello Party Banners

And finally if you have guests coming a long way as we did you might want to consider

Accommodation

We had a couple of families coming from the other end of the country so we suggested that they look at booking a room in one of the two local Premier Inns.   We also suggested the same to my parents who would only be going back to London so could do it in 45 minutes but that would have meant neither of them could drink.    We live right between the Fleet and Farnborough hotels and with Jonnie offering to taxi people it made sense for people to stay over there so they could enjoy a drink or two.   From just £50 a night with comfy beds and pillows and THE best hotel breakfasts to sort out the inevitable hang over the next morning, why would you not?!    Both where easy to get to within ten minutes with ample parking so our guests went there in the afternoon and left their cars and then Jonnie picked them up.

And without my parents booking into the hotel and having a couple of glasses of wine this photo would never have happened!

Parents Bouncy Castle

Photo credit Annie Spratt

And that would have been a real shame.

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