We recently celebrated our youngest daughter's 1st birthday with family and friends. For some reason, I always get stressed out over the party planning bit. We have a pretty large family and if we include some of our friends as well, it's a huge event. I stress.
For this party, I decided to go the simple, low stress route and I think the results were fantastic!
- Order a cake - I usually stress out about what kind of cake I'm going to make and how it will taste, but this year...I knew I didn't want to stay up all night the night before the party making cupcakes or a cake. I ordered a gluten-free cupcake for my daughter and a gluten-free cake from a bakery in Kirkland. I'm not going to refer you to this bakery as I was a little disappointed in the handling of our order. Anyway, ordering a cake was the best thing I did. It was so good that everyone gobbled up the whole thing (people went back for 2nds!).
- Simple, easy to grab food - what's up with all the fancy hors d'oeuvres people spend so much time on? I will admit, I do appreciate a party with great food, but I think everyone enjoyed our healthy snacks and it was all super easy to prepare. This meant, low stress for me (and my husband). I like to put together a cheese platter for most of my parties and a way to spice it up is to try some new cheeses. I went with a French cheese theme for this party, and though we'd never tried the particular cheeses we had, everyone loved both varieties. We are big on eating fresh, in season, fruits and vegetables. I bought some locally grown apples and they were a hit. If you are buying produce, ask if you can get a bulk discount (sometimes this works!). I was proud to see so many people eating apples at our party - to better eating and beyond!!
- Make some simple decorations - I made 3 tissue paper flower balls with tissue paper I happened to have on hand and it was just the right simple splash of color to spice up the place. I also had the grand idea to make a "Happy Birthday" banner while shopping at target the night before the party. The cake might not have kept me up all night, but making the banner proved to be a time-consuming task (it was simple, but a time sucker)! If only I had a cricut! My husband was quite the champ for staying up late with me, cutting letters out of thick paper using an X-ACTO knife. You don't have to go to as much effort as we did on this one, you could simply print out a banner, or easier yet, just buy the cricut to help you create amazing banners in no time (if you want to fork over the dough that is)! Here's a link to a great fabric birthday banner tutorial over at See Mommy Sew - I want to try this! One more decorating tip - keep balloons on hand in various colors. They are always a hit with the kids and will help reinforce a color theme.
- If someone offers to bring something - let them! My mother and Mother-in-law brought ice, coolers and bottled water. What a lifesaver they were. I tend to turn down help because I don't want to inconvenience people (I'm trying to work through this persnickety issue of mine). I'm so glad they pitched in - because honestly, I didn't have time to do it!
- Enjoy yourself - a happy host makes a happy party. Make sure to talk to everyone and take a moment to grab some of those appetizers too!
- Provide activities - it turned out to be a beautiful day so we were able to get games of ladder golf and bocce ball going. We also had some fun bubble toys for the little ones. Between food, games and chatting - people were occupied and having a fun day. If you are stuck inside for your party, you can still have activities for your guests. Here's a link to a good list of indoor games to get your head spinning with ideas (the related articles on that site look helpful as well).
- Don't sweat the small stuff - let the day unfold naturally. If someone spills a glass of red wine on your new white carpet, don't fret (just dump some white wine on the spill and it will come right up - no really, it works!). Sometimes things seem like a big deal when we're in the moment, but years later you will look back and realize it really wasn't worth the time wasted fretting over the issue. Just deal with it, and move on. Enjoy your party, enjoy your company and don't be a stress mess (grab yourself a glass of wine and wind down)!
- Turn on some music - it's always nice to have a fun beat going in the background to help liven up a party. It will create a fun and engaging atmosphere. We don't have a big music collection at home, so we rely on Pandora - it's never failed us at a party. I also recently discovered 8tracks.com and so far, I love it. Try it!
- Clean as you go - if you see some empty plates lying around, ask the people nearby if they mind if you take it and then get it to the kitchen asap. The place will not only look great if you pick up as you go, but it will save you from having that big old garbage/dish collection task no one likes after all the guests have headed home. A little at a time makes for easy clean-up later. You will often hear my dishwasher running during the middle of a party - there's no shame in that!
- Dress up - if you feel good, you look good...and if you look good, look out! (our friend Josh says this a lot - it's his quote and we love it.)
- BONUS TIP - go out to breakfast on the morning of the party. This was my husband's idea and he even found a buy one meal, get one free coupon for the restaurant by our house (we fed all 4 of us for under $15)! It was wonderful to eat out and come home to a still-clean kitchen!
Are you excited about the holidays? I am! I hope this list helps you think about ways you can simplify and de-stress a little when it comes to hosting your next party.
What are some tips and tricks you have for throwing parties?