My Top 10 Party Planning Hacks

I love throwing parties. And my guests love attending.

Throwing a good party is an art. It’s about balance, communication, and budget. Oh, and food. If you’re going to have a party you need to have it all and then some. Adding a bowl of chips to a room of streamers is not a party. That’s called being the laughing stock of the Junior League. If you are going to throw a party you need adequate refreshments, reasonable decorating, and a guest list of people who click. And it doesn’t take Martha Stewart to pull it off.

As I start planning my annual Christmas bash, I have decided to let you all in on my top party tricks that make my parties a success! All you need to come up with is a theme.

Morgan’s Intro to Party Planning 101

1. Have a Bat Cave

Just like Batman has his control room, you need a control room of your own. Whether it be a notebook or a file on your desktop, designate a place to keep all your party info (guests, food, decorations, etc.) You an even buy a party planner. This will be your party planning Bible and will relieve so much stress as things go into motion.

2. Make an idea board

I like to use Pinterest, but feel free to use a corkboard or even a wall. This is where your party will come to life. Take photos from the web, recipes from magazines, and any other tidbits that relate to your party and stick them on your board. I have tons of drink ideas on my Pinterest board, for example, that all would work well for my party. When you’ve finished compiling you will have a board that is your party concept and you can then base your ideas and decisions off of what you’ve gathered.

3. Have someone sign-off on the guest list

Just because you get along with Greg and Sally doesn’t mean everyone does. Take a trusted friend, or someone with an eye on the social going-ons, and have them check your guest list before invites are sent out. This will prevent awkward frenemies and any ostracizing.

4. Don’t make your own playlist

Unless you’re a DJ, leave playlist making to the pros. The beauty of modern technology is that Spotify, Songzy, and Pandora exist. And they have a plethora of curated stations that will satisfy your guest’s needs. Before the party, play around with stations to see what will fit the atmosphere you’re going for. Tip: Don’t play Top 40 hits. You aren’t a car during rush hour.

5. Dress code not optional

I know, it’s easy to say, “Wear whatever!” when people ask you what to wear. If it isn’t a wedding and isn’t themed, why should dress code matter? Adding a dress code alleviates the “What do I wear?” and the “What if I’m under dressed?” that so many people struggle with when attending parties. With a dress code people will know exactly what to wear, or have a clue what others will be wearing. Whether it be ugly Christmas sweaters or dressing like a Kardashian, you’ll have made an atmosphere of fun without the, “Stephen, we’re overdressed,” scenario. And your photos will be great!

6. Spend a lot of time in stores

While you know what you want from your idea board, Lord knows you’ll find the perfect centerpiece while walking down every aisle at HomeGoods. Search every store high and low and see what you discover. This even applies to the grocery store. Go wild and find that some of the best party planning happens spontaneously.

7. Have a lazy itinerary

This is an art form I’ve perfected. Planning every moment down to the minute without pushing your guests to the next station. How does that work though? Easy. If you’ve planned dinner at 6, start dishing out plates at 6 and your guests will immediately sit down. If you want the White Elephant exchange at 7, ask people about their gift and suddenly everyone’s talking about it and wants to do it! If you need everyone gone by 8, start stacking the dishes at 7:30, bring the coats to the living room by 7:45, and they’ll likely be gone by 8. It’s about knowing when you want things to happen and subtly forcing them to happen without being pushy. It’s an art form.

8. Finger food vs. sit down dinner

The ultimate struggle is about to be hacked down for you. Have finger food if you’re planning on having a more casual party with more guests that will be milling around. This will ensure that everyone is able to eat and walk at the same time, plus there can be more variation for a multitude of guests. A sit down dinner, on the other hand, is only a good idea if you’re having a small group of people and you know their food tastes. The worst thing that can happen at a sit down dinner party is sitting with ten people and one person spits out your spinach casserole. Hopefully this will make your struggle a bit easier.

9. Don’t overdo your theme

While it can be really exciting to decorate and make your living room very theme-appropriate, it’s easy to overdo it. And there’s something about having 9 gagillion elves in one living room that ruins everyone’s holiday spirit. Use decorations that incorporate your theme, but be sparing. Just like designing anything else, negative space is a beauty design tool.

10. Use an e-vite

I love a good, old-fashioned invitation as much as the next person, but no matter what it is -even a wedding!- having an e-vite alone or alongside a physical invitation is the best way to get a solid guest count. People are always on their phones and like to use technology where effort is minimal. I am the queen of using Facebook to send invites to people. And Facebook now lets you know if people have seen your event or not, so you can see who to follow up with. This is by far the best way to get an accurate guest count.

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What are your party planning hacks? Let me know in the comments!

Stay classy, Internet,

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