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Get Sh*t Done: How To Throw A Party


Without becoming a giant stress ball

Get Sh*t Done: How To Throw A Party | A Practical Wedding

Disclaimer: I love to entertain. Every year I like to throw a big party with all of our friends. But I’m not what you would call an… organized person. For as long as I’ve been throwing parties, I’ve been frantically running around the morning-of stressing out, regretting having made the decision to begin with. Most of the time the idea of throwing a big party with any kind of unifying… anything, seems so overwhelming that I just give up and order pizza and call it a day. So today I asked Elizabeth to write a post for you about how to throw a kind of big party without losing your mind. For some of you, this will be the light bulb you need and the road map to stay organized when throwing a bigger than normal party. For others, it’s going to seem like one more thing on your to-do list, in which case: it’s obviously fine to defer to pizza and beer and call it a day (I mean, I’ve been doing it for years, no complaints). If my slightly harried, totally disjointed parties through the years have taught me anything, it’s that any time you have a ton of friends all in one room, you have as much party as you really need.

—Maddie

Get Sh*t Done: How To Throw A Party | A Practical Wedding

It’s often said that a wedding reception is really just a party. And while most wedding receptions, even the casual ones, are much more formal and scripted than your average party, the fundamentals are still the same. Since this is the time of year with the highest concentration of parties, it seemed like the natural thing to do to show you the basics of how to throw a party. Because I’ve recently come to realize that (surprise!) not everyone thinks it’s as easy of a task as I do.

To start, don’t over-think it. By far the biggest mistake most people make when it comes to parties is over-complicating and over-thinking them. You do not have to do all the things. You do not have to have a theme. You do not have to have decorations. You just need: 1) people 2) food 3) drinks 4) music. That’s it. It’s really actually that simple. And really, you just need 1 and 2. The rest…well, know your crowd. If you DO want a theme, you can also keep that simple. My favorite alternative to having a theme is to give the party a name. For example, the theme for my thirtieth birthday brunch party was “30: Fuck the House Blend.” It was on the invitations, the cake, the coffee labels, foil printed on the napkins (I have a soft spot for fancy paper napkins), and the only real decor was the number “30” made out of two giant gold mylar balloons. Easy. Awesome.

Make a guest list, and then invite people. I’ve written about acceptance rates for weddings before. That tends to be slightly lower for parties that aren’t weddings (I’d go with ten to fifteen percent lower overall), but gets closer to the wedding acceptance rate as the guest list grows. I’ve talked before about being a big believer in managing guests’ expectations appropriately at a wedding, and the same is true about parties—the invite should specify a start and end time (and let your guests know if the start time is firm or flexible), it should indicate if it’s an open house drop-in event or one you’re expecting people to attend the entirety of, and you should definitely specify a dress code if one applies.

Set your budget and your menu. I’ve had big parties for as little as $200 and as much as… a lot more than that. In general, I budget around $700–$800 for a big party (read: more than seventy-five guests attending), of which I throw two or three a year. (Your mileage will vary depending on the kind of party you’re throwing. See below for examples.) I always try to plan menus that can be prepped/made ahead of time as much as possible—at most a few things will have to be tossed together or popped into the oven an hour or so beforehand, but all chopping/slicing/etc. can be done a day ahead of time. Unless you’re advertising a full meal, people probably aren’t expecting one, and snacks are fine. I’m of the philosophy that you should generally serve the same types of quality and food at your parties that you eat in real life—for me this means mainly homemade, very little processed food, and pre-made things from local stores or companies. That said, if you’re all about big-brand chips and onion dip, I will eat the shit out of it if I’m at your house.

Preparation is your friend. The first thing I do when I plan a party is sit down and make myself master lists (guest list, food and drink menu with ingredients, supplies I’m purchasing, supplies I’m renting, and staffing needs if applicable) and then a timeline. I order all supplies immediately (anything that needs to be purchased or rented happens a few months out) and then all my purchased supplies get consolidated as they arrive and are stuck in a box in the basement with a big “supplies for XX party” label on it. I schedule rental orders to be picked up the day before the party, and any staff I need gets booked well in advance so that I’m not scrambling to make those arrangements the week of the party. Beverages in general can be purchased well in advance, while food has to wait until a few days before to purchase (shelf stable things like crackers being the obvious exception). I then break the two days before the party and the day of the party into specific, hourly prep timelines: shopping, cooking, cleaning, setting up, leaving time to actually get myself dressed and put makeup on (which has been known to happen as the first guests are coming in). The final timeline usually looks something like this:

  • 4–6 months out: Set party date (I work in events—the majority of my weekend life is planned at least this far out.)
  • 3 months out: Put together guest list, budget, and figure out your basic structure and timeline (i.e. 35 people, $400, evening cocktail party. Or 80 people, $700, afternoon fancy barbecue).
  • 6–8 weeks out: Plan the menu; order anything you’re buying; put in your rental order.
  • 4–6 weeks out: Send out invites; book staff; buy alcohol.
  • 3 weeks out: RSVP reminder (repeat as necessary).
  • 2 weeks out: Finalize shopping list for food, and make schedule for week and day of prep. Line up friends and family to help as needed

Ask for help. And take people seriously when they offer it. This is one of the hardest things for me, but it’s so important in making things easy for yourself. When a friend offers to come help you clean, or to bring something to eat, or pick something up for you—take them seriously and take them up on it. One of my favorite parts of my last big party was the day before, when at one point there were five people in my not-very-large kitchen, all chopping, stirring, and slicing to help me get ready. The party itself was phenomenal, but also went by in a blur of “so nice to see you! Oh there’s someone else who just walked in!” while the prep day was much more intimate, with quality time and support from people I love. Prepping can be one of the most fun parts of a party if you give yourself enough time and accept enough help to make it so.

Think about hiring some help for the party itself (it’s not as expensive as you think). My very very best party trick is this one: hire someone to come in from an hour before the party to an hour after it ends for last minute set up, food heating, busing of dishes and glasses, refilling of food platters, and then help putting away leftovers and cleaning up. I’ve historically used a lot of college students or recent graduates—family friends, or friends-of-friends, who are happy to do what ends up being fairly easy work for $15-20 an hour in cash. It’s not a giant expense on top of everything else, but is the number one factor in letting me enjoy my guests because I’m not worried about there being no cups out by the drinks or the spinach dip running too low. I also have professional cleaners come in before all parties (I don’t have a regular cleaning person, but I do have a cleaning person I love who comes every few months before I have a party and gets my house sparkling) because if you start with a super clean house it makes cleanup much easier (and, you know, is nice for your guests).

Be an attentive host, but still enjoy your own party. Or, how to avoid hostess fatigue. If you’re not used to hosting parties, it can be hard balancing being a good hostess and still enjoying yourself. I usually try to greet every single person who comes in, chatting with them for at least a few minutes and then introduce them to other guests they may not already know but who I think they’ll get along with. Eventually I walk away and let them be grownups and talk amongst themselves. This tends to look like this:

Yay! I’m so glad you’re here! It’s so good to see you! Oh, this other friend of mine is here and I’ve talked about you both to each other for so long, I want you to meet! Let’s talk about what you have in common for a few minutes! Oh, someone else just walked in, let me go say hi and I’ll be back in a few minutes. [Note: I may or may not ever come back.]

Again, don’t over-think hosting—but also pay attention to it. Make sure people know where the restroom is, where the drinks are, what’s in the food (I have a pretty firm rule for parties that everything is obvious, i.e. no hidden animal products. If it looks like meat, it’s meat; if it looks like something vegetarian there’s no hidden bacon. I also label all food with at least a basic description). Stay central, and make sure to keep moving—your own parties are decidedly not the time to settle down in a corner chair and stay for a few hours. But don’t worry too much if some people leave after forty-five minutes—it’s your job to provide them the space (physical and mental) to have a good time, but not your responsibility to make sure every. single. person. has the best time ever. Hosting parties is not necessarily relaxing, but it can and should be fun—a whole bunch of people you like (I hope you’re only inviting people you like to your parties) are at your house! That’s fun.

Make things easy on yourself. Or, compostables are your friends. I try to only use compostables for big parties—plates, cups, glasses and napkins. IKEA and SustyParty are my most common sources. It makes cleanup a breeze—all you have to do is walk around and throw everything into a bag, and then into the green bin. For serving I own a set of large bamboo platters (originally from the IKEA floral department, I think) that work for everything, are unbreakable, and are easy to wash.

And, to wrap up, and give you some ideas, a few sketches of parties I’ve thrown for myself, my family, or friends:

  • Toast Bar Brunch this is what I did for my thirtieth birthday, and I now want to throw brunches all the time. 10:30am to 3pm, open house. The menu: lots of toast (bread was sliced the day before, and then toasted on cookie sheets in the oven throughout the party so it was always hot) and toast condiments (flavored butters, two types of jam, lemon curd, ricotta cheese, deviled egg salad, manchego cheese, sautéed broccoli rabe,) sausages from my favorite local butcher shop (kept hot in a rented chafing dish), scones from a local bakery, kale salad with persimmons, a giant bowl of clementines, and a very large cake. The drink menu: Bloody Marys (pre mixed into a large glass dispenser), prosecco and orange juice (for drinking separately or together), lemon water, and brewed coffee in carafes. Everything was prepped the day before, so the only thing that had to happen in the morning was toasting the bread, mixing the salad, and cooking the sausages (which I delegated to a family member, who brought them over wrapped in foil).
  • Cookies and Cocktails maybe the easiest holiday party ever. 7pm–10pm. The menu: 6–7 types of cookies (enough for 4–5 a person), plus cheese and fruit platters. The drink menu: Hot cider, champagne, a variety of seasonal holiday beers, and optional eggnog. Everything can be made ahead of time and plated just beforehand.
  • Pizza and Beer or, everyone’s favorite foods. 4pm–8pm. The menu: well… pizza. One of my favorite local bakeries sells light baked pizzas, which are perfect for this, because you can serve hot pizza for several hours (just pop two in the oven at a time.) Serve salad for bonus points. The drink menu: beer is fairly self explanatory—just remember that you won’t need a keg unless you have well over a hundred people. You may want to have some white wine on hand for the non-beer drinkers out there.
  • Tacos! made by other people. The menu: This may be a regional thing, but in California almost every taqueria around sells party sized platters of tacos, or, even better, there are people you can have come to your house with a portable flat bed grill who will make tacos to order for your guests for a few hundred dollars. Taco trucks are also a great option for larger parties. Appetizers are chips and salsa, which I tend to buy separately from my local Mexican grocery store. The drink menu: sangria and Mexican beer. And, done.

So go forth and enjoy your holiday party season. With a little work, it shouldn’t feel like, well, work. And if all else fails, just tell everyone to meet at the bar at 7pm.

Photo by Gabriel Harber (APW Sponsor)

Elizabeth Clayton

Elizabeth has been planning weddings since 2006, and has done so full time under the Lowe House Events banner since 2011. She considers herself incredibly lucky to get to work on events full time—it just doesn’t get much better than going to a party most weekends because it’s your job.

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  • MirandaVanZ

    “I have a pretty firm rule for parties that everything is obvious, i.e. no hidden animal products. If it looks like meat, it’s meat; if it looks like something vegetarian there’s no hidden bacon.”

    Thank you so much for this! I wish everyone was like you and did this. I hate surprise meat!

    • M.

      Truly! Yes!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Yeah, for SURE! I went to a baby shower this month where everything was labelled (handwritten notecards, nbd) and it makes things a little easy on shy vegans who don’t want to bring down the party atmosphere by hunting down the hostess and figuring out if the salad dressing has cheese in it :)

      • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

        I’ve started doing this. As a vegetarian who always has to ask, all of my parties have started to have labels with “risky” ingredients (meat, gluten, nuts, etc). This also allows me to get my fix of adorable stationary- and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the overall effect/look of it!

        • a single sarah

          I’ve told my vegan friends which cookies are food. But that works better at smaller gatherings where I know who can eat what.

          • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

            Totally appreciated by the way! And most of the things I make require explanation anyways (for some reason I have the pickiest friends ever!) so titles can be helpful so that you as a hostess don’t need to answer “what on earth is that?” every time you turn around

    • malkavian

      We try to do the same for our vegetarian friends, and will warn people if we have meat that’s even slightly hidden (ie that stuffing has sausage, but this one doesn’t). My husband has food allergies, so we empathize with and try to accommodate anyone with food restrictions.

    • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

      Yes, because I feel awkward and hate asking “um, what’s in this?” about mystery dishes. I don’t want to be the annoying vegan girl!

  • M.

    “…the invite should specify a start and end time.”

    Has anyone done this for a wedding reception (end time)? Feels like a lightbulb went off in my head. We have a daytime reception starting at 1:30. I’m tempted now to add 1:30-6p to our Glovite, in the name of transparency, since it’s not a timeline most of our guests have experienced before.

    • socallmeshirley

      I have seen this before, though I’m not an expert. I would think that would be a good idea, as it ends right before dinner time. Then people will (hopefully) know that even if they hang around long enough, you won’t be providing dinner.

    • Katherine

      My wedding invitations had an end time for the reception. Honestly, I’m not sure it even occurred to me to not include one. Personally, it helped me to know how much time I was planning for, and I was so ready to be done at our 10pm end time. If you know you only have the venue for a certain amount of time, it makes sense.

    • Jess

      I’ve seen this a lot. It makes evening wedding receptions where the venue has a time limit much easier to wrap up, too! Like, Hey remember that time we said the reception ended? We’re getting close! Let’s head out/clean up/take the decorations to the cars now.

      • M.

        Yes! This is exactly what I’m thinking. Just so it’s in the back of everyone’s minds.

    • Meg Keene

      I’ve never seen a wedding invite list an end time, but most weddings HAVE end times. If yours doesn’t have to have one, because of venue restrictions, I’d still plan on one for sanity.

      • M.

        We definitely have one (color-coded timeline spreadsheet – be still my heart! And OMG sanity. Yes. I’m tired just thinking about it), but until I read this piece I hadn’t thought to tell my guests when it was. I added it to the website for now, which probably achieves my purpose of putting it out into the ether

    • Stella

      Yeah, in England I’ve seen “carriages at […]am” pretty often on fancy wedding invites — which is just a nice way of saying “time to go home at […] am”…

    • Kelsey

      I plan on making a fancy board with a schedule of events for my reception. Time is a little limited, so making sure that our guests know things like, “oh, if I want to see them cut the cake, I’d better head over there at x time” hopefully will save transition time.

  • Laura C

    Someday I will be an adult (note: I am 36) and my pre-party cleaning process will involve more hiring someone to clean and less throwing all the stuff that doesn’t have a home into the bedroom, closing the door, and using the fact that the cat’s in there as an excuse to keep people from going in.

    • malkavian

      Hah! We totally throw all our extra crap into the bedroom and study. Though we only lock the cats away when food is out and unattended-they really like the attention from guests.

      • Laura C

        Yeah, my cat is a rescue who can’t deal with more than about four people at a time and that only if he knows all of them, plus we’re currently in a 14th floor apartment with a balcony we really, really don’t want him out on, so if there’s a chance people will be going in and out he has to be shut away. So the cat excuse is kinda for real, but it’s also very convenient.

        • malkavian

          Both of ours are rescues too, but one came to us thinking that she’s the princess of the universe and she must collect tithes from everyone in the form of ear and tummy rubs, and the other used to have similar issues to yours but has calmed down a lot (and is used to most of our friends at this point). But I can see why the balcony thing would be a huge issue.

          • Laura C

            Being able to handle four people at once is where he is after calming down a lot. Everyone who knew him a couple years ago is amazed that he’s so sociable now. :) (I think he was probably a feral kitten pre-rescue, based on everything I’ve read.)

          • malkavian

            Yeah, our dude was fostered as a kitten so he got some socialization before getting to us. He’s just really easily overstimulated by new things.

    • Meg Keene

      BUT WILL YOU? (By which I mean, I’m not sure I’m ever going to be that kind of adult? Unless I get rich. That sounds like my idea of perfect luxury. Mmmmmmm.)

      • Laura C

        Probably not, alas. But I keep thinking it’s just around the corner.

        That would actually be a great gift for our parents to give us — gift cards to a cleaning service. Maybe not as much fun as the gift card to Craft my parents gave A for his last birthday, but pretty awesome.

      • Amy March

        I get 2 hours housekeeping (plenty for my studio) for $50 in Manhattan. Factored into a party budget, it’s the most worth it line item on there for me. (just in case anyone is tempted. I always thought of this as an uber-luxury, but turns out it’s pretty easy to work into my budget.)

    • Elizabeth @ Lowe House

      I somehow ended up in a house with seven closets, a basement, a crawlspace, and a garage. So while the bedrooms end up becoming part of the common space at parties (big parties, not-very-big house means people need to be everywhere to fit) trust me, there’s a lot of shoving-crap-into-closets before the cleaning people come :)

  • Tania

    My #1 rule: book a cleaner for AFTER the event. Best decision ever. The cleaner arrived. We left the house and went looking for a hangover cure and full-English breakfast. Came home 2 hours later and the place was spotless. We paid her double. Amazing

  • Amy March

    As someone with a touch of party insecurity, (will anyone come?) I like to enlist a co-hostess. Combining 2 semi-overlapping groups of friends is fun (exciting new people!) and having a planning buddy makes getting everything done so much easier.

    • Alyssa M

      This sounds genius, and may be my new party strategy! Now who to co-host for New Years… hmmmm

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com/ Rachel Wilkerson

      This is an awesome idea!

    • Erin E

      Seconding the party insecurity! My strategy is to throw parties that are at my house but that honor someone else… like a friend’s bday or shower. I get to be known as a great hostess, but I don’t worry as much about who will show up because the guest list is kinda dependent on the honoree. And it also accomplishes that semi-overlapping friends thing, which is definitely refreshing.

  • Emily

    This is so useful! We’re trying to move toward “more adult” dinner and cocktail parties, even though most of our friends are still into the “Hey, here’s a bag of Ruffles and a case of PBR. Let’s play Asshole!” type of party. We’re planning a big Christmas cocktail party that might stretch our tiny house to the max.

    • Emily

      Ugh. My fiance and I are the first of our friends to own a home (not just some sketch apartment off campus) and be in a LTR and whatnot. While I love PBR, it did win a blue ribbon, sometimes I would really enjoy drinking out of a glass…and then knowing that glass won’t get broken in the next hour. Good luck with your Christmas party!

    • malkavian

      My husband and I have done cocktail parties for my birthday the past two years and enjoy throwing dinner parties when we have the funds. I find the most important part is really just knowing what you’ll need and planning. With cocktail parties, I try to plan so that we can make a huge variety of drinks with a limited number of ingredients. Classic cocktails are great for this: check out the 12 bottle bar for inspiration! http://12bottlebar.com/ I find with lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup, mint, and bitters with some basic bottles I can make a pretty extensive selection of drinks. Also for food for cocktail parties, we tend to do bread, cheese, antipasto, and maybe 3-4 bite-sized prepped hors d’eurves (like mini quiches or brie tartes). We’ve also done huge St. Paddy’s day parties when we had a smallish 1 bedroom with a miniscule kitchen, so dinner parties in small spaces are definitely workable!

      • Kayjayoh

        Thank you for sharing the 12 bottle bar link.

    • Jess

      Friends in college: Let’s have a rotating dinner party where we have wine and meals and talk for hours over candlelight!

      New Friends after college: Let’s get a ton of cheap beer and get BOMBED!!!1!

      I think I did it wrong… And now I want to plan a fancy cocktail party for Christmas.

      • malkavian

        You know, I don’t think I had friends that drank cheap beer til grad school. Everyone I knew in undergrad preferred liquor, so it was cheap rum and (for some reason) peach schnapps everywhere. I get funny looks from my colleagues and friends here sometimes because I’m picky about my beer and refuse to drink the cheap stuff.

  • Kayjayoh

    My annual party is always a big hit and also possibly the easiest theme party I could ever have come up with: Wine, Chocolate, and Cheese. I have it every year on the Friday or Saturday midway between Halloween and Thanksgiving. The idea is simple: it’s a very special potluck. I supply crackers, fruit, veggie crudites, a chocolate fondue, and a cheese fondue, plus some N/A beverages. Then I throw down the guantlet throw: bring the most interesting (to you) wine, chocolate, or cheese you can find.

    We have had everything from limburger to cheese fudge to wine that had been hiding in a parent’s wine cellar for 30 years to things with cayenne… The party also double as a food drive, with guests bringing in donations for a local food pantry or Thanksgiving basket program. Each donation allows an entry for a door prize, often something like a movie pass. This year was the 10th annual, and it has always been a popular party.

    I think I’ll have to do something special next year. Not only will it be my 10th annual, but it will be my first one in a new city!

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com/ Rachel Wilkerson

      Awesome theme!!

      • Kayjayoh

        Living in Wisconsin, we get some amazing cheese options.

    • socallmeshirley

      Brilliant theme! I want to go to your party!

  • Kayjayoh

    Also: surprise parties are tricky, tricky things. I threw one for my sister last year, and though it all went well, I was so full of anxiety. I planned it on a non-birthday night, in case she had other b-day plans. I planned it on a night when her son was with her dad, so no need for a sitter. I booked a room in a local bar we like, so it didn’t have to be in our apartment. I got a co-conspirator to make plans with her that night, to get her to the bar.

    However, when the guest of honor is a social butterfly, it is important to have the co-conspirator make *very specific* plans. Our friend just invited her out for drinks. “Great idea!” says the birthday girl. “Why don’t I make a FaceBook event and invite a bunch of people to come out to a(n entirely different) bar with us at a slightly different time!” And then hide the guest list on the FB event. :) This almost lead things into sitcom territory, with me trying to find out her guest list and contacting people and making sure they new about the earlier surprise party time and location and *also* convincing people not to do the thing where they tell her that they can’t make it to hang out, because they are going to be at the surprise party. Because how nice of a birthday surprise is it if you send the week before feeling like no one wants to see you?

    Fortunately, it all worked out well. She was genuinely surprised and very happy. I learned things about how to throw a surprise party. (Mostly, I learned that they are so tricky to pull off but worth it if you can.)

    • jashshea

      HA! A friend & I threw a surprise party for our friend J 10-12 years ago and nearly broke her and her now husband up in the process. She was so angry that he wouldn’t commit to plans with her, she started a fight the night before the party.

      She sure was surprised the next night, though!

    • Laura C

      Duly noted!

  • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com/ Rachel Wilkerson

    God, I love brunch. I want to go to your toast parties with your special balloons.

    I was reading Martha Stewart Living over Thanksgiving and she was talking about her Christmas Day brunch party which sounds SO AWESOME and made me so sad that all my people are not in one place because I WANT TO THROW THAT PARTY.

    Also, I went to some friends’ annual Thanksgiving party a couple weeks ago and they had this really fun project where they covered a pool table with TONS of craft supplies every family/couple was given a mini roasting pan and a paper bag with glue, tape, and a couple other items, and we were given 20 minutes to build a Thanksgiving-themed “float.” Then they were voted on and a winner was declared. It was SO fun and now I am a firm believer in silly organized arts & crafts competitions as party entertainment.

    • Kayjayoh

      Things I know:

      1. I love brunch.
      2. I hate waking up in the morning, and am generally a surly zombie until at least 11 AM.
      3. I am pretty sure I will never, ever host a brunch party, because the idea of being ready to have people over by some reasonably morningish time fills me with existential dread. :)

      • Laura C

        This is why I host a New Year’s Day hangover brunch. It starts at 3 or so, which allows me to stumble out of bed late, and frankly most of my friends aren’t really interested in leaving home until at least then anyway. Sure, there are always a few people who think they’re going to make it and then don’t because, New Year’s Day. But it worked really well several years running in my old city, and we’re going to revive it this year. We do as much of the prep ahead of time as possible so that most of what’s left to cook just needs to be tossed in the oven for a while, have a make your own bloody mary bar and pitchers of mimosas, and keep it going until around 8:00. Perfect also for when I lived in a very quiet apartment building where I didn’t feel comfortable hosting a late-night party.

        • Kayjayoh

          Brilliant!

        • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

          I want to do this so much now…

        • ElisabethJoanne

          Great idea. My husband is always looking for something festive for New Years, but neither of us have any actual traditions for the day. I think we might have one for 2015 (new job in 2014 will require a very quiet home life)

        • Sara

          Oh man, I want to steal this idea so badly. I’ve been dying to do a brunch party but hate asking my friends to get up in time for breakfast.

          • Laura C

            You should. It’s great.

    • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

      I love brunch too. And I love that you love brunch. I’m thinking of getting pregnant just so I can have lots of brunches (like baby showers right? pregnant people brunch?) kidding…but i do love brunch and never get an opportunity to go to them.

  • http://sanfranista.wordpress.com/ Sarah

    As it were, I’m having a tree-trimming party this evening that looks a lot like the “Cookies & Cocktails” party you suggested. I was already planning on making a bunch of holiday cookies, but I had totally forgotten about egg nog! My guests would have never forgiven me. Many thanks :)

    • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

      tree trimming party! That sounds wonderful! Good idea!

  • KerryMarie

    the Get Shit Done segments are some of my favorite APW posts, both because of the fantastic content and the inspired comments they generate!

    • Emily

      Yes! Get Shit Done posts were so, so helpful during my wedding planning.

  • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    I love this. Last year my partner and I had an imaginary Christmas party (we kept talking about ‘our party’ but it never actually happened) but this year I really really want one. I’ve never thrown a party. And I mean, I want a small one. We are just now getting a solid group of people that we like and connect with here in LA and kind of want to celebrate our shiny nice friends. December has already gotten so busy and it’s been on the back burner. I like the cookies and cocktails idea …

  • APracticalLaura

    Cookies & Cocktails?! Sounds MAGICAL! Stealing this for my next party!!!

  • Amy March

    Other random thought: Christmas and New Years come with lots of expectations and competing events. Bastille Day, not so much (at least in the US). I’ve had a ton of fun using lesser-known holidays from my heritage as an easy theme.

  • Sara

    I wish I had thought of the Cookies and Cocktails holiday party! Omg, what a great idea! Next year, for sure that is what I am doing. Next week is my holiday party and I’m just doing appetizers and BYOB which is fine but doesn’t sound as cute.

    My mother is a hosting queen and every year does her holiday book club party. The last couple years, my dad has dressed up in a tux (he owns one, so many weddings in their families), takes coats at the doors, walks around with a tray of drinks, does other butler-y type things. Its hilarious, the ladies love it but it embarrassed my mom to death the first year he did it (he didn’t tell her he was going to).

  • Bee

    We always have potlucks. It’s so much easier and self-scales so you don’t have to panic about RSVPs. Just make sure to cook a couple hearty main dishes to seed the pot :)

    Also, since we don’t have municipal compost pickup, we save all of our glass jars and use them instead of plastic cups. Cuts down immensely on waste, and it’s free! We also save, wash, and re-use plastic utensils. In the last five years I have never bought disposable cups or utensils.

  • Shan Rose

    Today Wedding planning is very important for good ceremony

    Wedding Venue

  • Tuppet

    We’re preparing for the first large party in our new home: a murder mystery (written by my new husband) with a cast of 40, most of whom are aged 17-22 (from a science youth group he is heavily involved with). This is his 6th murder mystery, and the first to be hosted at our home (they have mostly been at his parents place, and one was at my parents’ house, but this is the first year we’ve been living away from home/together). We do a 3 course meal (which is mainly my job this year), and it’s up to us to handle the myriad food issues (2 vegetarians, 5 gluten free, 3 lactose free, 1 fructose free and no nuts at all). We make all of the props ourselves. This one looks like approaching 80,000 words of writing for Justin, who started a month ago and has been doing this around working 60+ hour weeks as an Engineer and travelling to his uncle’s funeral in another state. Recipe for stress right there.

    But this is what we do. We both come from families where massive parties are normal (my dad threw a Halloween party this year with 80 guests and we live in a country where Halloween isn’t even celebrated). Surprisingly for an introvert I love hosting – mainly because I get lots of spreadsheet planning time and I get to see my extrovert husband at his happiest, surrounded by the crazy people he loves.
    Whenever we get a bit tied up in stress we remind each other that this is our thing. It’s why we bought a crazy house with lots of entertaining areas.

    So I’m taking an extra day off to cook, and getting some help from my friend and my mum. And, I’m making a jelly squid. This is what we do. It’s going to be great, even if we don’t get any sleep this week.

  • Erin

    I WISH I’d had this guide when I threw my boyfriend’s 30th in May! I have a tendency, once I have a great idea, to pile all sorts of other great ideas on top of it. (Ooh, what if it’s a campout where we can all drink to our heart’s delight and crash in the woods! Ooh! What if I collect a few different drinks corresponding to different ages! OOH! What if I get it catered from his favorite restaurant with tamales and cake AND macarons! OOH, what if, in addition to ALL THE BOOZE I ALREADY HAVE, I get a free keg from the brewery where he works!!) His party did turn out pretty great, but the weather was absolutely crappy, which really put a damper (ha, ha) on attendance. Even though I had a rain plan for the actual party, there wasn’t much I could do about the whole camping-in-the-rain problem. So about half as many people showed up as I expected–25-ish instead of 45-ish :- It was okay though–the people who did come were the people we’re closest with, and we ended up with SO MANY LEFTOVERS.

    And I still contend that (provided it doesn’t rain) a drunken campout birthday is a pretty baller party idea.

  • Mel Dawn

    What me and my girlfriends did to shop for wedding dresses was to hire canada limo services drive us from store to store! It was a whole lot of fun!