How will you marry the atmosphere to your vision?
Here's a few ideas off the top of my head. Remember it's your personality that should be on display!
Intimate, cozy / Warm, engaging
- Create pools of light and warmth with candles.
- Gather everyone around a roaring fireplace.
- Kick off the event lingering in the kitchen around a center island.
- Play background low-key jazz or lounge music.
- Use soft lighting in areas where you want people to gather (use fewer candles for safety).
- Play "up-tempo" music that expresses itself without intruding.
- Specify "party dress" on your invitations.
- Give it some "glitz". Decorate with glittering, colorful, elegant elements that are season or event specific. For instance, a "milestone" birthday party is the ideal occasion for family photos. (Come on isn't it great seeing your parents when they used to be hippies?) At Easter time I hang beaded and glittery Easter eggs over the dining room table and placeelegantly attired Easter bunnies all over the house.
- Play "up-tempo" music and pay attention to the volume so it creates and maintains the mood you desire.
My Top party killers:
- No one will leave the kitchen. I need room to work!
- Everyone sits down rather than mingling. Even at a football party you want guests to mingle. To just watch the game, they could have stayed home.
- Bright lights that don't encourage relaxation. It's a party, not an interrogation room.
- Music that overwhelms rather than entertains. Love The Stones? That's great but, probably not right for a bridal shower. Consider your guests and be sensitive to what they will enjoy. Everyone may not be into loud, thumping, techno dance music. What if the celebration is a family reunion for guests who have not visited for many years and would like to talk? (We have friends who love Stevie Wonder so we play Stevie at every party they attend.)
- Atmosphere that stifles rather than relaxes your guests. Going too formal or too casual can make everyone feel awkward.
Ask yourself these questions:
What do I enjoy doing the most?
- Serving soups and appetizers at the table;
- Preparing the main course and sides;
- Whipping up a decadent dessert;
- Choosing and pairing your wines;
Build your celebration around the things you most enjoy doing.
What season is it? Serve whatever is in season.
Is the menu compatible with the celebration?
- Buffalo wings at a bridal luncheon?
- Chicken salad for the superbowl?
I think you get the idea of what I'm driving at here.
Does the food and wine complement the guest list? (Super spicy food may be your favorite but, will your guests enjoy it as well?)
I suggest that you keep it simple, allow your personality to express itself and always keep the pleasure of your guests in mind.
"Balance" is key. Be realistic about your time, talent and interests. You may love to "do it all" but...
- How much time before the celebration do you have to prepare?
- Will there be demands on your time during the celebration?
- Where do your talents lie and (being honest with yourself) what should you "outsource" to make sure the celebration is successful?
- What do you hate doing and would make you really happy to "outsource"?
Entertaining should be enjoyable. As important as what you like doing, if you're not particularly good at something, outsource it! I am not the best baker in the world so, I often rely on the local bakery. Many supermarkets have a vast array of prepared foods to choose from to fill in your "capability gaps". Also, when a guest asks: "What can I bring?" Jump on that offer! (Unless you know they can't cook, then ask them to bring a bottle of their favorite wine.) Making the celebration "your own" doesn't mean you have to make yourself totally insane doing it all and risking the success of the celebration.
Get the Food and Drinks Right
Everyday Divas Celebrations
with Mimi and Sue
How to turn your everyday into a celebration