Planning a Special Party for your Friends

11791624_MLAnyone who throws a party wants it to be special and memorable. In those few minutes before the guests arrive, most people worry about a party’s potential for success. Here are a few suggestions to help ensure that everyone, including the host and/or hostess, has a good time.

Mix it up: Don’t hesitate to invite a mix of different people to your party. Friends from work, neighbors, single, married, young and old can all find enough in common to enjoy each other during a party. Inviting a variety of people helps create interesting conversations and keep your party lively.

Plan for groupings: Use small tables, appetizers, chairs and lighting to create different spaces for people to congregate. Some may feel comfortable chatting with one or two people while others gather in a group of six to eight or more. If your seating arrangements are versatile, people will develop their own conversational groups.

Watch for wallflowers: If someone is feeling shy, it’s up to you to bring them into the group. Start with a one-on-one conversation then introduce them to someone else who is friendly and approachable.

Time the appetizers: If everything is out at the start of the party, some things will run out quickly while others may get inappropriately cold or hot. On the other hand, if you find yourself spending the entire party in the kitchen with last-minute food prep, you won’t be able to enjoy your own party. Plan and prep all the appetizers before the guests arrive, but pace the food so that it comes out fresh throughout the party. If there is a special event such as a birthday, plan the cake and singing for the middle of the evening when the most people will be there.

Let people help: Some people would rather hang in the kitchen fixing drinks or food rather than mingle with the others. Plan some simple jobs for people who want to pitch in.

Remember that everyone comes to a party planning to have a good time. Your job is to set the stage and let your guests relax and enjoy themselves. And make sure you have fun too!

Planning a special children’s party

5760630_SYou don’t have to spend a fortune to organize a special party for children. Planning and creativity can make any party something to remember. Here are a few suggestions:

Choose a theme: Current children’s movies often offer a full selection of paper products such as plates, cups and centerpieces, but don’t limit yourself to these options. For example, a “Toy Story” theme could feature actual character dolls – smaller ones to decorate a cake, and larger ones to serve as a centerpiece.

Plan activities: To keep the energy going, set up a series of games and activities. Here in the Southwest, a piñata provides a great way to get every child involved. Be sure to make it harder to hit the piñata at first, so that every child has a chance to take a hit. Other games could include relay races and, for older children, a treasure hunt. You may want to mix active games with quieter ones. Be prepared to explain the rules and process for each activity, and encourage your little host or hostess to give everyone the opportunity to play.

Stick with finger foods: Pizza fingers are easier to manage than full slices, and sandwiches are tidier than fried chicken. Offer a variety of kid-friendly options. For dessert, consider cupcakes or cookies.

Plan for parents: If you are inviting the parents to stay have an assortment of drinks and appetizers ready for them. You may want to encourage them to bring cameras to document the party, with photos that can be shared later. Clearly define a time for the party to end, for the benefit of parents who drop their child off at your home.

Prizes for everyone: Children who aren’t as good at games should leave with prizes and treats also. Goody bags filled with small packages of candy and an assortment of inexpensive toys are a nice way to wrap up the day.

Above all, remember that children may come prepared to have fun, but could still be shy and unsure in a social setting. Pay attention to the wallflowers and encourage them to get involved in the games and play. With this approach and your careful planning, everyone will have a terrific time!