GIMME SHELTER- Party down: Planning's the key to perfection

Jennifer Carroll
Jennifer Carroll Events, LLC

Q: My husband and I want to throw a party, but it's been a long time since we last organized one. Any tips on making ours a success?

A: Whether you want ways to generate excitement or you've never thrown a party in your life– here are 10 great tips for making it happen!

Location: Pick a spot convenient for guests and that suits the size and style of your party. Don't be afraid to re-imagine your own space. Converting your living room into the dining room can energize a dinner party.

Guest List: Think beyond the "usual" suspects. Browse emails for new folks and ask your friends to bring someone. Don't be afraid of over inviting. Some people won't show, or they come late or leave early. Inviting extra people will help your party feel "full" throughout the night.

Theme: Be inspired by the seasons, cool destinations, or Jefferson's birthday! Even a color scheme like fuchsia and tangerine can guide you through decisions on invitations, décor, even cocktails.

Budget: Determine how much you can spend and set priorities. Pick one or two important areas and focus on those. Invitations? Flowers? Bonus Tip: set aside 10 percent of your budget for last-minute ideas.

Timing: If you have rented a space for a specific period of time or just want your house back, include an end time on your invitation.

Drinks: Signature cocktails allow you to reduce your alcohol costs by focusing on one or two drinks. Remember to provide non-alcoholic choices for designated drivers.

Restrooms: Bathrooms are often overlooked in the planning process. Since we all dread lines, a good rule of thumb is one per 15–20 guests. Restroom trailers are an alternative to the even more hated port-a-potty!

Food: For cocktail parties, keep your food bite-size so guests aren't juggling their plates. Don't forget options for vegetarians. Labeling foods that include common allergy ingredients is a nice gesture.

Practice Run: You don't have to do everything, but make sure to count the platters, cups, chairs, write your grocery list, etc. This will help you avoid extra stress on party day!

Get help! Don't be afraid to ask for help. Warning– don't ask friends or family who would otherwise be a guest– nothing can start a fight faster than someone "working" the party! Services to consider include catering staff, event planner, party rentals, even a hair and makeup artist.

Jennifer Carroll