Ready to party?
There are some things that I thought I’d nail by middle age.
Number one, it was part of my plan to have performed a daring, sexy image haul by now (nope).
Number two, I’m supposed to be fluent in at least one language other than English (er, nope).
And thirdly, I really expected myself to be an assured, relaxed party-thrower by now, able to knock out an effortless dinner soiree and a stylish round up of friends for glamorous, chinky-glassed, giggly get togethers. One. Massive. NOPE.
Somehow the hostess-with-the-mostess just hasn’t happened. Actually I get a bit angsty at parties and have actually been known to slope off from my own dos, like a Home Counties Great Gatsby (minus the mansion).
Well, Christmas is coming and I really want to have a little drinks bash so I’ve grabbed Caroline at Bucks-based Perfect Peony for a quick piece of ‘events therapy’. A pro wedding and events organiser, Caroline given me some great advice on how to throw the killer party without the nervous breakdown and goddam I’m going to do it. Lift me onto that white horse, Bianca Jagger and Studio 54 has nothing on me.
It’s your party, and your friends are invested in the evening and coming to see you so rather than panicking about what other people might like or not like, take the opportunity to inject your personality into your party. If you love the outdoors, bring the ‘outdoors in’ with with a magical woodland theme – think hanging woodland foliage, canapes served on a tree trunk platter or crudites in wooden crates. If you love glamour, create your own champagne and oyster bar. If you love to be entertained at parties, hire a silhouette artist, cariacturist or a close-up magician. If you adore dancing, totally glitterball it up! If you love it, your friends will too.
Small touches, huge impact
Most parties involve food, drink and music. What happens above and beyond that is about the detail, and it’s often the small touches that people remember. Edible flower ice cubes look amazing and can be incorporated into your colour scheme. For seated guests, think about creative place cards – one of my clients used handwritten names on palm leaves for a tropical-themed party, or you could simply place a fun photograph of the guest on their place setting. Or give your guests a small gift of some sort – a little hangover cure kit never goes amiss…
Go for drama
I’m loving ceilings & wall décor at the mo with my clients – I’ve been doing garden walls, hanging flowers and giant glitter-filled balloons recently. Whatever you do, do it big – a couple of balloons dangling in the corner won’t cut it!
Think about your lighting
How many parties have you been to where you wish they’d turn the lights down, or made more of the candles? Clever lighting can transform a room with dramatic effects. Flashes of neon, the emphasis on one colour alone, uplighters, downlighters, fairy lights draped across walls… they all make an impact. If nothing else, I swear to you that tea lights and candles make a difference, they immediately create an atmosphere.
Create a twist
Try serving your food and booze in unusual ways. How about a donut bar, or a mobile bartender rocking up in a vintage van in your garden? Think ice vodka luge, chocolate fountains, punch bowls (pictured) as ways to pull your guests into the evening actively. One great way to do this would be by creating signature cocktails within your party theme and setting up a ‘make your own cocktail’ station for guests to mix their own versions, also handily saving yourself the trauma of having to make it all yourself beforehand!
Fun and games
Photo booths are great fun & interactive. Some previous clients of mine used an old cast iron bath (discovered in a reclamation yard and destined for their new home) as the main prop with people jumping in and out with their bath time toys! There’s also something called a magic mirror that I’ve seen recently where you walk up, touch the screen, strike a pose and then hey presto out pops your photo! But you can also just set up a DIY version with a stand or easel with a picture frame attached and people can take pictures of themselves in it – inexpensive and loads of fun.
Walk your own party
It sounds stupid but it really does help to do a physical ‘walk through’ of your event as if you were a guest (no nicking the cocktails before everyone arrives). You’ll quickly understand what works and what doesn’t, from where guests can leave their coats and guests are likely to congregate (or bottleneck) to whether the loo is signposted properly.
If you were going to a friend’s party you’d be grateful for the effort they put in, and take the party at face value. Give yourself a break and relax. A happy host is the most important element to a killer party every time.