Spring is here, albeit a little cold and the vaccine success continues. We can now all begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are well on the way to the next stage of easing restrictions. 2020 and 2021 have seen so many missed landmark events such as special birthdays and anniversaries.
It is now time to be optimistic and start planning the party of all parties to celebrate all those belated missed occasions. So how do you go about creating that fabulous celebration? For me there are several key ingredients that make for an amazing party.
The venue sets the tone of the party. A country house will lend itself to a more formal, often smaller scale celebration, a barn a more informal do and a marquee, my favourite, will give you a blank canvas to style as you wish and allows for larger gatherings. There is such a wide choice of marquees now from traditional pole marquees, frame marquees, stretch tents and tipis. If your garden is not suitable for a marquee and you are worried about disturbing the neighbours, there are many venues where you can place a marquee.
Should you choose a theme? It is of course personal preference but for me I always think it adds to a party and also helps to break the ice. A theme doesn’t have to mean full-scale fancy dress. It can just be used for invitations, food, drink and decor and setting the general ambience of the party. For me I must say my favourite is Black Tie with a Hint of your chosen theme. The guests can get to glam up, especially after all this time and just need to add a hat, a boa, sunglasses or whatever to fit the theme.
Some of my favourite themes are:
- 1920s/Great Gatsby
- World Travel
- James Bond
- 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s
- Famous People
- Film Characters
- A Colour Theme
- Great Historical Characters
- Films such as Mama Mia
And with your chosen theme you can go all out with the decoration. You can even ask your catering staff to join in for example by wearing a hat or sunglasses. It all sets the scene for the party and adds to the excitement. A photo booth can tie in nicely with a theme with all the props available matching the theme.
The type of food you choose will partly be driven by the style of party you wish to have. Whether you like the idea of sharing boards, a served buffet, always better than getting people to serve themselves, otherwise you just get long queues, waitress service or street food stalls – the choice is plentiful. If you are having a party that ends late, especially for 21st celebrations, it is always a good idea to have plenty of food on offer at intervals, to help soak up the alcohol. If I am organising a 21st I always suggest canapés, either a sharing board or served buffet followed by late night food such as artisan pizza.
Cocktails or fizz to welcome guests? Your choice of course again can tie in with your theme. Always make sure that you offer an interesting non-alcoholic alternative, sparkling water or orange juice is just a bit unimaginative. For 21st parties if you offer champagne or sparkling wine it is also good to offer cold bottled beer as well. For a party provide all the drink including after the meal. You can stick to wines and beers to make it less expensive or perhaps offer a couple of cocktails. If you are using a dry hire venue or marquee in your own garden, then you can provide all the drink without the cost of corkage and purchase it on a sale or return basis. You will have to allow for a small charge for drinks service from the caterers or specialist bar service.
A very important element to your party. Do you choose a DJ or band? Bands are very popular at the moment and add that bespoke element to your party. I was recently chatting to Marie Francis from Live Music International, based in London who have a whole host of live event bands and DJs who they manage. I asked her with all her experience what she thought were the important considerations when thinking about music for your celebrations. Her two top tips are:
- You can book the best band going, but don’t stint on paying for good production – it makes all the difference to the sound.
- Don’t place the bar/drinks station at the opposite end from the music, otherwise you will loose guests from the dance floor. Your guests are more likely to jump on the dance floor if it is full. A full dance floor is a great indication of a good party.
Please don’t forget to hire a photographer to capture the evening. A friend might offer to take photos but then get swept up in the general excitement of the party. It is so lovely to look back on party photos and see all the moments that you might have missed out on.
If organising a big bash sounds a tad overwhelming then think about hiring a party planner. Most wedding planners also provide a party planning service. It means you don’t have to get involved in all the admin and you can just enjoy the lead up to and the party itself without worrying about all the details. I do love organising a party, so do take a look at my party services.
Here’s to many, many celebrations in the coming year.
Photography: Suzy Elizabeth Photography