Did you get through Monday okay without any bruising or trauma? I hope so! Mondays are always a tough start for me. Especially this week because I was pooped! We threw a real humdinger of a BBQ on Saturday! It was so much fun and now I am already thinking about the next party – uh oh. I am obsessed.
I think my guests had fun. I know I did. The weather was glorious (not hard to do living in the OC) and we had it well-planned out. I have thrown parties before and I consider myself a pretty good hostess. But this time, I really did something different. I went one step further and had activities and a theme.
I decided to do a retro Hawaiian/beach theme. Now, I warn you ladies, don’t go overkill with your theme. It can end up looking like a Party City threw up in your house. Of course, I don’t mind OVER-THE-TOP (which is different than overkill) – example – friends of ours have a Xmas party every year and put many, many Christmas trees in every single room (yes, the bathroom too) and they then have a scavenger hunt for specific ornaments. It keeps guests delighted and entertained for hours!
You do not have to spend a bundle to create a festive atmosphere. I didn’t really decorate the house, beyond buying some flowers. I did, however, buy some fun accessories. I bought plastic leis for the men and plastic flower hair clips for the women. Each guest received one upon arrival, which puts them instantly in a party mood. I also did an iPod selection of all beach-related, summer songs like the Beach Boys, Doris Day, 50s and 60s stuff and some Bob Marley thrown in there. It was just the right tempo and kept people funkified properly.
I also bought a plastic door photo opp thing and had everyone take a photo behind it. This was so hilarious and everyone got a kick out of it. Best $4.63 I ever spent!
Lastly, we had a LIMBO contest!! Yup. Kickin’ it old school folks. I bought it on Amazon for $22. See how easy? I didn’t even have to run around to stores hunting for stuff. It took me about 20 minutes to find all the stuff I needed and it showed right up at the door. LOVE that! My husband looked at my like I was nuts when it arrived, but you know what, everyone lined up, ready to LIMBO like they had never limbo’d before!
I also bought sidewalk chalk for the kids so they could decorate our sidewalk. ALWAYS have some activities for the kids. The parents will be so thankful and everyone will have fun.
I think we can learn from the old school parties. They were more thought out, more “official” meaning real invitations and themes, etc. I know that because I had activities going on, people kept in great spirits and there were no awkward silences or dead times. I always imagine old school parties to be like this. Check out this hilarious old video:
Another huge aspect to a good party, which seems obvious but you would be surprised how many people don’t do this, is to have plenty of food and drink available AT ALL TIMES. We kept it simple with hot dogs and burgers and we set out beer, wine, a huge pitcher of Arnold Palmers and I still felt like I was running around like crazy. That’s just the way it is. I recommend simple dips, guacamole and chips, cheese and crackers, etc. – all of these easy to prepare and keep people fed. Next time, we will make sure to have bottles of water too. You learn something new with every party.
ALSO, why not celebrate someone’s birthday?? If any of your friends coming happen to have their bday soon – could be a week ago, a week ahead, whatever – CELEBRATE! I had this amazing cake for my friends made by a fab bakery in Huntington Beach called Great Dane Bakery. But you can buy an inexpensive one (my sister LOVES the basic white sugar frosting sheet cake) at the grocery store. Who doesn’t love birthday cake??!!
If you want no one to want to go to your parties, here’s what to do:
1. Have bad booze – think frozen margheritas and beer is enough? Nope. Some people don’t drink that stuff. I hate tequila (bad experience in college) and beer is not my thing. And if all there is for white wine is Chardonnay, well I’m gonna pout the whole time! Chardonnay tastes like soap to me. Fruity, icky soap. To be a proper hostess, you should have a little bit of everything. This doesn’t mean you have to have a full bar, but at least enough to get by and some variety. Most big liquor stores sell smaller bottles of hard liquor so you don’t have to go broke throwing your shindig.
Worst case scenario – no booze. You are screwed. It’s the Titanic. People will be snippy. Waaaaaaaaaaah.
2. Drunks – I hate to be a goody two shoes, but there’s not much worse to me than a few loud irritating drunk people or people out of control. In fact, all it takes is one to put your party off. Don’t invite your frat brother who is still living the frat life and drinks liquor like it’s the fountain of youth. Reserve him for small dinner parties where you can control the situation. Or maybe when you go to Nascar or a concert where he can be drowned out by surrounding noises. If the offending guest is not someone you invited and you can’t approach them, find the friend they came with and ask them to handle the situation. If it’s some strange dude off the street, get some of your friends to get together and give ‘em the boot! My college roommate and I threw a Halloween party once and my roomie walked in to the bathroom only to see some random uninvited guy peeing into one of our shampoo bottles – for fun. What a nutjob. She was so horrified, she couldn’t remember which bottle so we had to throw out about 10 bottles of really expensive shampoo and conditioner (yes, we are typical girls and our bathroom looked like the shampoo aisle at Target.). Nasty stuff can go down at a party. I once went to a friend’s party where a woman in her 30s threw up in a wastebasket in their den. That’s just inexcusable. I luckily, am a pretty quiet drunk. I will find a chair and fall asleep. One friend of a friend picked on me forever afterwards about it but I didn’t see the big deal. Whatev.
3. Cliques – ever go to a party and everyone seems to know everyone but you? Or you watch as your friends just stay connected at the hip to their own friends and don’t mingle? If this is the case, it is the hostess’ job to go an introduce people and mix it up! Things like “Oh George here LOVES golf too!” or “Did you know that Brenda also just got divorced?” Or how about “Sean over there is single. Let me introduce you.” This last one is not said much at my parties because I mostly have gay boys or married people. I feel for my single ladies. I was there and I know it can suck.
4. Paper – PLEASE make sure you have toilet paper at all times!!! So many hosts forget to check the bathroom. I have been at a party and there was no TP and let’s just say that it put a damper on my evening! Paper plates – Soooooo tacky darling!! What are we, camping? Living in a trailer park? Use your plates! Not only is it nicer but you are being eco-friendly. Sure, you will have a ton of dishes, but if you have nice friends like we do, people like Bob will end up cleaning your whole kitchen!! What a saint! I will never forget that. These days, you can get very inexpensive dish sets at Target, Sears, Ross, wherever!
5. Pot luck – I am going to be snooty here – I think it is SUPER tacky! My mother-in-law found out that the girlfriends of her sons had made her 80th birthday a potluck and she was MORTIFIED! I couldn’t believe they did that. If you have good friends, they will ask what they can bring. I always say booze. Then you will never run out (hopefully) and booze doesn’t go bad. If they are close friends, then maybe you want to do a ladies’ lunch where people bring different courses, but this should be something planned organically through conversation and not some potluck ultimatum. Nothing worse than having to work for someone ELSE’S party!
Lastly, DON’T FORGET TO TAKE PICTURES!! Your guests will go home, the trash will be thrown out, the party will be cleaned up but the memories can live on forever!!
Happy hostessing ladies!!