Make sure to leave time to prepare your space for your party. You don’t want to be exhausted by the time everyone arrives because you’ve been working since 6am. We’re all guilty of this (yes, me too), but build in extra time for setup so you can enjoy your own party and your guests too!
Let’s start with your party’s flow and setup. These are two very important areas to plan thoughtfully to ensure for happy guests and a memorable event. Think about the areas within your home that are the most popular points of interest and where you can have potential pile ups that block good party flow.
For the holidays, first consider that guests will need a place to put their coats if it’s chilly out. If you have a room close to your entrance that isn’t being used for your event, that’s perfect. But if you’re like most of us, your home may not have a space for this by your front door. So you may need to get creative when planning for this. Whether you have someone stationed at the door to collect coats to place in a guest room, or you rent a rolling rack to hold guests’ coats in another room (not being used), make sure to plan accordingly.
The next thing your guests immediately look for is a drink. Guests feel more relaxed with something in their hands, so people normally beeline straight for the bar. Because of this, I actually prefer to place the beverage station where guests can easily see it, but is away from the front door. If you setup drinks too close to the entrance, you’re guaranteed to have a major traffic jam and annoyance for the duration of the event. Placing the drinks where they have to travel across the room also encourages your guests to start mingling immediately.
Now if you have the budget, I’d also suggest having a server stationed close to your entryway with a tray of signature drinks. It immediately makes an unforgettable impression on your guests and ups your event’s elegance. In any case, the rule of thumb with your beverages is that people will find the bar no matter what, so use that to your advantage to get your guests to go where you want them!
A common mistake you want to steer clear of is putting the food and beverage stations right next to each other. Ideally, you want the main food station to be as far from your bar as possible. Again, this will encourage guests to move within your event space and mingle more with one another. I always recommend creating a dessert station in addition to your main food station as well. This will keep guests mingling and moving around the room and will also serve as a beautiful focal point to ease congestion that sometimes occurs with only one food station.
Are there any other natural seating areas where guests will be likely to gather in your home? Place smaller hors d’oeuvre displays there with smaller bites and finger-friendly foods to make these spaces feel even more welcoming, along with cocktail napkins and plates so that guests can easily help themselves. Just keep in mind your furniture when making food choices if you want to prevent drips and potential upholstery disasters from happening.
Move furniture if you need to open up your spaces and create easy flow. Don’t be afraid to open up your rooms to make things smoother. While you’re rearranging, also take a few minutes to de-clutter any surfaces to make room for drinks and plates.
This next part seems no brainer, but surprisingly it isn’t. (Trust me, I’ve been to a lot of homes to plan these parties!) Clean everything. When you move things around, dust bunnies like to come out and say hello. Take extra time and effort to clear out the excess dust and wash those baseboards. Interestingly enough, people may not notice that you scrubbed everything, but they will notice that your party does seem to have an extra sparkle to it.
The bathroom in particular needs extra attention. Please remember that your guests will most likely use your restroom one or two times during your event. That’s more action than most restrooms see all year, so give them a little extra TLC so that they can withstand your festivities. Of course, it should go without saying to make it spotless from top to bottom, but also make sure you stock it full of supplies. Put two or three extra rolls of paper in there just in case you. You never know. Also make sure to have a small trash can there for convenience, especially with paper towels being used. Plan for everything!
Again, think like a guest. While I love decorative towels in the powder room, they are not very absorbent. I learned this the hard way at our very first house-warming party when the hand towel was soaking wet after only forty-five minutes. It’s the small things that you think of that make your event seamless. So I place paper hand towels in the powder room in addition to a cloth towel. And of course, make sure everything works in this room. Even though it isn’t the focal point, it’s one of the most popular rooms that will be used throughout your event!
With everything in planning, it’s always a delicate balance between beautiful design, and well-thought out logistics.
© 2003-2013 Soirée! Ltd./Natalie Bradley Events
Want to use this post in your E-newsletter, blog, or website? You can as long as you include this complete statement: Southern Event Planner & Designer Natalie Bradley publishes the “Soirée Secrets” blog filled with secrets, tips and how-tos for planning your fabulous event. Get your exclusive inspiration, tips and tricks at http://NatalieBradley.com. Soirée by Natalie Bradley Events is an event planning and design company based in Athens, serving Northeast Georgia, the Carolinas and select destination locations.