You probably think it’s easy to organize a get-together with your close circle of family and friends – just phone calls, text messages, e-mails, and verbal invitations, some food, some long tables and chairs, and you’re all set. But there are some things you might want to consider before you go buying your party supplies.
It’s always a good thing to plan and plan well in advance. It’s not enough to simply prepare a few dishes, send invitations, and clear the party area. Sometimes, the smallest of details can make or break your party. A little planning will save you time, money, effort, and headaches when party time comes.
Here are some things you need to take note of when planning your party:
Since it’s going to be one blast of a New Year’s party, why not make things a little spicier by giving it a specific theme? Make it an affair to remember with a catchy and creative theme. Sure, you’ll be serving drinks, punch, and a large spread of food, but all of these can be wrapped up creatively into one big and unique party that everyone will remember for the whole of 2012. Shake things up and surprise your guests by infusing your party with an interesting idea for your theme. Pick an idea that can be used creatively. Now, instead of just a New Year’s party, we’ve got a themed New Year’s party!
Make sure you pick an exciting theme. Exciting themes are ideas that can be applied to many different aspects of a party: food, decor, costume, music, and activities. You’ll want an idea that stimulates multiple senses: sights, colours, sounds, tastes (for instance, don’t pick something like “Sweet”, which applies to only one or two senses). One option is to pick two opposing ideas for your theme: say, a Fire versus Ice or a Black versus White party. Two opposing ideas create inherent drama. A Fire and Ice party should be decorated in reds and blues, and contain both hot foods and cool, icy desserts. For a Black and White- themed party, ask your guests to come dressed in those colours, use black and white decorations, and even serve black and white foods such as squid-ink pasta, dark chocolate cake, and white creamy sauces on white pasta. Other potential themes: Good versus Evil (Food-for-the-gods versus devil’s food cake! Healthy veggies versus sinful desserts!) and East versus West (featuring Western and Eastern foods and /or music).
Other themes can be plucked from the word we live in: Movies (Hang posters! Play soundtracks! Have movie trivia games!); Personalities (Ask your guests to come as their favourite personality from the headlines, or serve foods from your favourite celebrity endorsers); or Books (ask your guests to read passages from their favourite books, or dig up some old family recipe books and serve ancestral recipes). You can even pick historical eras as your theme and ask your guests to come in era- appropriate clothing, such as bellbottoms and platform heels for a swinging Seventies or Sixties party, then play Elvis or The Beatles on the stereo. You can pick geography as inspiration, such as ‘Hawaiian’ or ‘Tropical’, and serve foods like pineapples, fish and roasted pork.
Whichever theme you choose, keep things fresh and unique by doing your research. Find out as much a possible about your theme and try to have every aspect of your party reflect it creatively: the food, costumes, giveaways, music, and decor. It’ll be more difficult than preparing for an ordinary party, but the extra fun will be worth it. Another thing: remember who your guests are, and make sure the themes are appropriate (if you’ll have children at your party, for instance, it might not be a good idea to have a ‘Cocktail’ theme!). Are your guests adventurous and willing to go the extra distance to make costumes and skits? Or are they workers coming from a tiring office day and just want a low-key gathering to relax and unwind? If the latter is the case then ‘Cocktails’ might just be perfect! It all depends on the crowd.
It’s always a good idea to invite your guests in advance, so they can already block your party in their calendars. Since you have sent your invitations early, chances are your guests haven’t committed to another event yet. Also, your invitations, whether they would be an e-mail, a card, a text message, or a personal verbal message, should tell your guests the date, day, and time of your party. Include the type of food you will be serving, whether it’s a traditional sit-down dinner or just a merienda type spread. If you have a special theme and activity for the event, make sure you tell your guests what they should wear or bring to the party. And of course, don’t forget to include directions to your home. It would be thoughtful to make a sketch or a Google Maps rendering of the location of your home or party place.
If you have a theme for your Christmas party, your invitations should also bring out the spirit of the theme. If you have a summer-themed party, you can add an umbrella or other tropical elements to your design. For a movie theme, you can edit your favourite movie poster and replace the text with your details. You can look for other invitation ideas on the internet.
Decide on the menu well before the party, so you don’t need to shuttle back and forth from the supermarket to pick up ingredients. For a sit-down dinner, it’s a good idea to drop by the market or grocery store to pick up all of your ingredients a week or a few days before the party. Do all the preparations a day before and cook or bake and finish at the day of the party.
For a more easy-going party, it’s better to serve finger foods. This will keep the mess to a minimum and will save you a fortune on dishwashing liquid later.
Think about the layout of your party area. The drinks should be close to the ice chest and the water jug. You may place your food on one long spread on one side of the room or place several on side tables throughout the room. Place your trash cans inconspicuously near the food tables, so your guests can find them easily while not being an eyesore.
Make your guests go “Ooh” and “Ahh” at your elegant Christmas decorations. You can set up your decorations in accordance with your party theme or vice versa. Whatever your decorations are, make sure they represent one central theme.
Also, arrange your party area and decorations in a way that would prevent small accidents from happening. If there are any fragile decor in your home, move them to the side or keep them in a safer place.
Just before the guests arrive, turn on the lights, play some exciting music (and keep the Auld Lang Syne track ready to play), set out the appetizers, and bring out the drinks. When the guests have arrived and everyone has settled in, introduce a special activity like a game, a sharing of New Year resolutions, or a even a little dancing to pass the time before the clock strikes 12. After the party, make them bring a little something extra with them, something to remember your party by. You don’t need to give something expensive. A small ornament or figurine, a bag of cookies or candies, or a simple card will send off your guests with your own way of wishing a happy new year ahead.
Throwing a New Year’s party for your friends and family is a nice way of getting them together for the start of the year. While there are a lot of details to keep in mind, careful planning will ensure that you have everything you need at the night of the party without you stressing out. As a last note, you need to remember one thing: have a fun and Happy New Year with your loved ones.