What Professional Party Planners Don’t Want You to Know

Party Planners

Planning parties for a living may sound like an ideal career for many people. Every day, you get to be a part of someone’s “big day,” whether it be a wedding, a baby shower, a graduation, or a birthday. While most of us aren’t professional party planners, we do get to plan our fair share of parties, and once you become pegged as the party planner among your friends, you’ll probably end up having a lot more party planning duties than you originally bargained for.

If you’re just “always celebrating something” or if your friends are always calling you up, begging for help with their latest shindig, here are some tips from professional party planners that can help you create unique, fun parties.

Learn to Organize

Staying organized is one of the best ways to not only de-stress the party planning process, but also make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. When I was helping plan my kid sister’s high school graduation party, we completely forgot that we needed to provide a playlist of music long enough for the entire event, in a format that could be played over the venue’s PA system.

We didn’t remember until we showed up at the venue and they asked for the music. Having a party planning checklist could have avoided this hiccup, and would have prevented me from having to run home and throw together a playlist in less than ten minutes. Professional party planners always have a checklist and they keep checking it to make sure that nothing is being left out or left behind.

Don’t Be Afraid of Themes

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when planning parties, especially for adults, is dismissing the necessity of a theme. You never outgrow the need to have a theme for your party, and it can help unify your ideas and makes decorating much easier. Once you have your theme, all you have to do is scour our party supply store for the decorations that are on-theme, instead of just getting generic decorations that might fill the space, but won’t really add anything special or unique to the venue.

Send Paper Invites

It’s tempting just to send out a mass email, text message, or Facebook invite—and while there might be a time and place for those methods of invitation (i.e. you are planning this thing last minute), if you’re planning weeks or even months in advance, don’t hesitate to send out real paper invitations, whether you get them professionally printed or just make them yourself and print them off your computer. Professional party planners always recommend sending out a paper invite. They’re more personal and when it comes to a surprise party, easier to hide from the person who’s supposed to be surprised.

Whichever method you choose, make sure that the invitation includes specific information about time, location (maybe even directions, if your home or the venue is difficult to find), and attire. Invitations can also include information about whether or not to bring gifts, how long the party might go, and whether or not there will be alcohol, depending on the party itself.

Opt for a Self-Serve Bar over a Bartender

While having a bartender might seem like the classiest and easiest option, it’s also going to be the most expensive, and depending on who you hire, it might be a gamble as to whether or not he or she can adequately mix drinks. A self-serve bar with just a few options is going to be less expensive and it allows your guests to mix their favorite drinks or try a few new mixtures. In addition to a self-serve bar, it might be a good idea to have some standard beer and wine on hand.

One Special Drink

This is a favorite among party planners: a drink created just for the event. While it doesn’t have to be anything too unique or special, coming up with a specialty cocktail that mirrors the theme and atmosphere of the event is a great way to give your guests something memorable to drink. For a spy, James Bond, or Casino Royale themed party, the signature drink could be as simple as the British spy’s favorite martini—shaken, not stirred.

Especially if you’ve gone to the trouble of picking a theme, having a drink that plays into that theme can really round out the evening.

A Table Just for the Kids

This is something that seasoned wedding planners will stalwartly stand by. If the party is primarily for adults, but some children will be tagging along, giving them a place of their own, with activities, snacks, and treats designed just for them is a good way to keep them entertained, even if they are not interesting in the mingling or dancing that is going on in the rest of the room. Even just a table covered with a big piece of paper and strewn with a few crayons can keep children busy for hours.

Take a Breather

Unlike a professional party planner, whose job is to work through the party, as the host or guest, your job is to have fun. Forgetting that can make the entire party a flop, no matter how much time and effort you put into planning. Instead of running back and forth trying to make sure every single little detail is perfect, be sure to allow yourself to actually enjoy the guests.

If you’ve taken care of the food, the drinks, and the party decorations, there’s no reason to spend the duration of the party panicking. Make sure to grab one of those signature drinks and enjoy the party you’ve spent so much time planning!

Need help with your party?  Tent Rentals, Party Rentals & Event Rentals in Philadelphia can be found here: BucksMontParty.com

How to Throw a Real St. Patrick’s Day Party

Im a wee bit Irish t-shirt - st patrick's day

For most children, St. Patrick’s Day is the day at school that you get pinched if you’re not wearing green. For adults, it usually leads into a night of wearing green and bar hopping. But what is the real origin of this holiday and what are some real traditions you can incorporate into a St. Patrick’s Day party, either for children or for adults? We’ve compiled some myths, facts, and traditions to make your St. Patty’s Day more authentic than ever, even if you’re not Irish.

The Shamrock

The shamrock is one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day party decorations, and pinning a real or paper one to your shirt is a great way to avoid those pinches at work or school. But is the shamrock actually a part of the original St. Patrick’s Day story?

While most botanists agree that there’s nothing truly uniquely Irish about a shamrock or any other kind of clover, for that matter, tradition does state that St. Patrick himself was fond of wearing a shamrock (three-leaf clover), throughout his travels in Ireland, and that the three leaves symbolize the holy trinity.

Those who are very protective of their St. Patty’s Day traditions or are St. Patrick purists will contend that only the Trifolium dubium is the right kind of clover to wear on this March holiday, and that the Trifolium repens and the Medicago lupulina are imposters—though no one but a botanist is likely to be able to tell the difference, and when you buy a shamrock banner or a shamrock wall hangings from your favorite party supply store, you’re probably not going to be offered a choice between different kinds of clovers.

St. Patrick

Like most modern holidays (Valentine’s Day, for example), the man behind the legend has largely been obscured. Very little of our modern celebrations have much to do with the real St. Patrick, though he does have a harrowing story.

The real St. Patrick wasn’t even born in Ireland. He was born in Britain, to wealthy parents. When he was a teenager, he was kidnapped and shipped to Ireland, where he was sold into slavery and became a sheepherder. It was at this time that he became a devout Christian. According to legend, Patrick began to hear a voice that urged him to escape from his captors.

When he did, he stowed away on a pirate’s ship and returned to Britain. Though he had only just returned to his family, Patrick believed the voice told him that he needed to go back to Ireland, after being ordained to be a priest. He returned to Ireland and began his mission of converting the Irish. After a long and difficult mission, he died on March 17th. For centuries, his contribution to Ireland was largely forgotten, but he eventually became the patron saint of the country.

One of the biggest myths that you hear about the real St. Patrick is about his quest to banish snakes (a symbol of the pagan religions practiced by most Irish at the time), from Ireland’s shores. Historians and wildlife experts believe that there never were any snakes in Ireland, as it is too cold and wet for to be a suitable habitat for the reptiles.

Most historians believe that the story sprang out of some truth, however. Because snakes are so often used as a symbol for evil (despite not really being that evil), Patrick’s quest to banish evil from Ireland became a tale of the saint also banishing snakes from Irish shores.

St. Patrick’s Day in America

Like most holidays that start with “St.” until modern times, these holidays were only celebrated by religious individuals. Even in Ireland, it was only considered a minor religious holiday. While it might have been a feast day, there might not have even been a mass to commemorate the day. The St. Patrick’s Day that we celebrate today is largely an American invention, spurred on by Irish-Americans, as early as the 1700s. There is evidence to suggest that there were St. Patty’s Day parades as early as 1762!

The epicenters for these celebrations were Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, where there were large communities of Irish immigrants. The celebrations have obviously grown, with parades taking place in many cities and with the majority of Americans at least wearing green, if not participating in other traditions.

The first year Chicago dyed part of their river green was 1962. The substance used to dye the water green was used to find pollutants in the water—when workers noticed that it turned the water green, they realized that it could be used to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Because the dye used is safe for the fish and other wildlife of the river, and because it’s the same dye that’s actually used to test the water for pollutants, the dying of the river has continued unchallenged for decades.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

You don’t have to break out the green dye and try to color your local creek or pond in order to show your solidarity for the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Just wearing something green and going out for the parades is great. If you want to hold your own party, corned beef and potato hash is the traditional Irish-American meal to mark the day, but even just making and decorating shamrock cookies could be fun. Just make sure to pick up some St. Patrick’s Day decorations to turn your kitchen, dining room, or other venue green!

Spring Holidays To Get Ready For

Easter Decorations

Though the groundhog told us there would six more weeks of winter this year, most of us are already looking forward to spring holidays. Once Valentine’s Day has passed, it’s time to start looking forward to spring and all of the holidays that come along with that season. If your mother was anything like my mother, any little holiday would be reason to make a special meal and decorate the house, from Mardi Gras to Earth Day.

Whether you’re a teacher and just want to make sure your party bases are covered, or you’re just looking for a reason to have your friends over and celebrate, here are just some of the holidays coming up this spring and how you can start planning now for a great party.

Mardi Gras

If you’re not able to hit New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you can still have a great Fat Tuesday party in your own home. All you really need are Mardi Gras beads and purple, green, and yellow decorations. For a party for little kids, you can easily plan a mask-decorating party that will keep them occupied for ours, just perfecting their masks. Just get some plain masks, feathers, and sequins, and let the kids go to town. Once all the masks are done, you can have a little parade through the house.

For adults, Mardi Gras is all about purging demons and feasting and drinking before Lent begins. Having a few friends over and eating and drinking together is a great way to commemorate this fun spring holiday.

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is another big drinking holiday for most adults. There may be a green-themed parade where you live, but if not, many pubs and bars are likely to be holding special St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. You can always don some green clothes, beads, and maybe even a comical leprechaun hat and head out to a bar, or you can call your friends over and host a traditional Irish meal and drink fest at your own home. Just make sure there’s plenty of green around!

Easter

Even if you’re not religious, Easter is still a great time to get together with your family and have a nice meal together. Especially if you’re not religious, Easter is largely a holiday for children, and hiding plastic eggs and setting up Easter decorations for a horde of children to enjoy as they search for the eggs is always fun, especially if, like my parents, hiding the eggs well enough so that it would take us months to find all of them was just part of the festivities.

Cinco de Mayo

While Cinco de Mayo may be a more popular holiday in the American southwest, there are plenty of people across the country that celebrate this holiday on a yearly basis. It’s a great time to visit one of the local Mexican restaurants, who will likely be having a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

This holiday commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French at the battle of Puebla, and in Mexican culture is often celebrated as a sort of independence day (though Mexican independence is actually celebrated on the 16th of September). In reality, this day is a time to remember both the defeats and the victories in Mexican history. Cultural celebrations are common, with dancing, great food, and lots of games. Many teachers use this opportunity to teach about Mexican history and culture.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day comes around every spring, and every spring, we scramble to find a suitable present for the women that have given us so much of their time and energy. According to our own mothers, here are some of the best Mother’s Day activities:

• Taking your mother out to lunch or dinner
• Someone else cooks the meals for the family
• A handmade gift
• Stories about your childhood and memories of your mother
• Getting many generations together to celebrate
• A small, thoughtful present

Most mothers don’t expect something grand and extravagant, preferring instead just to spend time with the family and to have a brief reprieve from some of the motherly duties they take upon themselves on a daily basis.

Earth Day

Earth Day is becoming more and more popular, as more and more people are becoming environmentally conscious. Many parks and recreation departments hold outdoor activities. These can range from tree planting to picking up litter in the park. An earth day party doesn’t just have to be manual labor, however. You can get all your friends together and have an earth-themed party.

While Earth Day doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a “normal” sort of party, it can still be fun to have a meal together and discuss weighty topics like climate change and recycling.

Passover

While this is another holiday that most people only celebrate if they are religious, you will likely have the chance to attend a Passover dinner this spring. Passover originates in Ancient Egypt and commemorates the last plague God sent to convince Pharaoh to release his Jewish slaves. Many Jewish people today eat a highly symbolic meal and follow the traditions laid out in the Old Testament for this sacred day.

April Fool’s Day

While not a true holiday like many of the others on this list, April Fool’s Day can be a fun day to play harmless, friendly pranks on your loved ones. It’s also the beginning of tax season—while these two events don’t have much to do with each other, they can be equally aggravating.

The Key to a Low-Key Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day Sign

Valentine’s Day is one of the most stressful days of the year, for both men and women. There is so much pressure put on showing your love to those you love most on this one day, that people spend weeks and even months trying to plan the perfect date night. The truth is, however, that whether you’re in a committed relationship or not, having a low key Valentine’s Day can be both less stressful and more fun than having an over-planned, anxiety-ridden date on what’s supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.

Wouldn’t you rather celebrate Valentine’s Day with the person that you actually love instead of at a restaurant, packed with strangers? Here are some tips for making Valentine’s Day less stressful and more fun.

Plan Something You Actually Want to Do

For some people, heading out to a busy restaurant, filled with other couples celebrating their Valentine’s Days is the epitome of fun. Others would far prefer to take a picnic out to the beach and cuddle together watching the sunset. Just because the standard Valentine’s Day date is a reservation at the most expensive restaurant in town doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do. Not only is that going to put a serious dent in your bank account, it’s likely going to be too busy for you two to really have an intimate and meaningful date.

Think about the dates where you have had the most fun. Was it people watching at a busy restaurant? Or was it taking a walk through the park after dark. Reenacting your first date is a popular choice, as it can stir up those old, nervous feelings of initial attraction and romance. More than anything, you want your date to be personal and unique and something that will spark a little bit of romance between the two of you. Don’t be weighed down by what you’re “supposed” to do—do what you want to do!

If in reality, you two would rather do nothing else but stay at home and play Scrabble, that’s what you should do.

Have Lunch Together

Dinner is when the restaurants are going to be packed with couples. If you want to beat the crowds and still have a great meal together—especially if one of you has to work on Valentine’s Day—grabbing lunch together, instead of dinner, can be a great way to fit in some quality time. It’s probably the only day that day drinking is allowed, and because it’s lunch, you might feel inclined to try something a little more casual, which could mean less pressure and more fun in the long run.

If you’re both working through lunch, why not get up a little bit earlier and have breakfast together at your favorite diner around town? Or better yet, scramble some eggs, toast some bread, and have breakfast in bed while you watch the morning news and hope for a snow day. Sharing a meal is one of the most traditional parts of Valentine’s Day, and sitting and eating together is a great way to spend some time. To keep your Valentine’s low key, however, you might consider switching up which meal you focus on.

Make It Yourself

Handcrafted and homemade are great ways to show someone else that you care. Homemade Valentine’s Day decorations are as easy as cutting a few hearts out of construction paper. You can also find inexpensive decorations at a party supply store, ranging from the very cute and corny, to the very upscale and classy. Mix and match your homemade and store bought decorations as you deck out your home.

Making Valentine’s Day dinner yourself may seem like a daunting task, but if there’s a meal that you know you’re capable of making, today is the day to make it. Whether it’s something as simple as spaghetti with sauce from a jar, or as complicated as lobster and a tossed salad, make the meal yourself is a great way to show someone that you love them. Putting in that time and effort, over a hot stovetop, really shows that you care.

Valentine’s Day desert can be easy, too. Either pick up a box of chocolates at the store or make a simple chocolate cake from a mix. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be delicious!

Rom-Com Movie Marathon

Netflix and your local movie rental place will likely be stocking their shelves with everyone’s favorite romantic comedies in preparation for Valentine’s Day. After dinner, you can curl up on the couch and watch your favorite romantic movies, whether you like something funny and cheesy or something truly romantic.

If romantic comedies aren’t really your thing, pick from the wide variety of action movies that have a romantic subplot. You can even just trash the romance altogether and pick a selection of horror or slasher flicks. The best part about this plan is getting to watch the movies that you two love to watch together, especially if you originally bonded over common movie tastes.

Pick a Low-Traffic Date Spot

On Valentine’s Day, most people are either going to be staying in or eating out. Museums and art galleries are going to be abandoned. Whether she loves learning about space or you’re a fan of modern art, spending the evening strolling around exhibits hand in hand is a great way to spend your Valentine’s Day. Some art galleries might even have a special event for visitors that do come out on Valentine’s day, like dinner or drinks and appetizers.

Bookstores, coffee shops, parks, beaches, etc. will all likely have fewer visitors than on any normal day.

Decorating Ideas for Brides on a Budget

Brides on a Budget

There’s nothing wrong with being one of the brides on a budget when you plan your wedding. Having an unlimited budget is not a fantasy many brides and grooms get to live, especially if they are hoping to put a down payment on a house or make other necessary purchases after the wedding and honeymoon are over. Even just saving a little bit of money on the wedding can mean a little bit of extra cash for planning the honeymoon!

Whether you’re on a very strict budget or are just trying to free up some money for other important purchases that go along with being married, here are a few ideas to help you create a beautiful, classy wedding venue, without breaking the bank:

Christmas Lights

Even if you are not getting married near Christmas, decorating with white twinkle lights is a great way to add a touch of elegance and romance to your venue. Best of all, they’re very inexpensive. You can buy a set of high quality, durable white lights for around $8 at our party supply store. They add necessary light to your space and can be used in a variety of different ways for a variety of different effects.

When my brother got married, they wanted to hold their reception in the gym at our church. It was free, so it was a great bargain—but it was also an ugly gym in a church that was built in the 1970s. We draped strings of white lights from wall to wall, tacking them to the ceiling to create a canopy of lights; it really made the place feel special.

Another idea that could add some whimsy and charm to the space would be to make centerpieces out of the Christmas lights, by stuffing an entire string into a Mason jar. You could also hang these from trees for an outdoor reception in the spring or summer.

Make Food a Decoration

Food might not always be decorative, but it can be, with the right plates and platters. Instead of just sticking the food out in whatever pan it was cooked in, invest in a few nice serving dishes and then arrange the food on the buffet tables. You probably won’t have to add any other accents to the table.

When it comes to plates and cups, you can get a range of “fancy” plastic plates and cups that will not only look beautiful stacked or lined up next to the food and drink, but will also make cleanup a breeze at the end of the night.

Utilize Candles

Candles are a great way to make a space look special and you can buy sets of candles extremely cheaply, so putting two or three on each table will not put a big dent in your decorating budget. If you can find some inexpensive votive holders, you can add another dash of whimsy to each table.

And don’t just put candles on the tables! Put them on the serving table, on the drink table, and on the favor table! Because small votive candles don’t really putt off that much heat, you can easily light up a room with them, without overheating your guests. Just make sure that if children are invited to your event, that the candles are out of their reach. Alternatively, look for flameless, real wax candles that give the appearance of a lighted candle, without the dangerous flame.

Cover Everything with Fabric

If you don’t love the texture of the walls at your venue, you can always try to break up or cover the color or texture with long drapes of fabric. Tablecloths can make even the most mundane plastic tables look fancy and expensive, even if the tablecloth itself isn’t that fancy or expensive. You can buy table cloths in any color from every party supply store, and cheap fabric from your favorite local fabric store.

Using fabric will make your venue feel warmer and more intimate, no matter how large it is. If you picked a venue because of its price and not because of its décor or aesthetic, don’t be afraid to cover up the features or wall colors you don’t like them.

Don’t Forget Flowers

Flowers are customary at every wedding, and they can also be one of the biggest expenses. Instead of trying to find a florist to make all of your centerpieces and other flower displays, invest a little bit of time in making your own. A beautiful, but easy to make flower display can be crafted just out of a Styrofoam ball and some silk flowers that, again, can be purchased from any party supply store. Just clip the stems and stick the stems into the Styrofoam ball. These can then be hung from trees or set on tables.

Dress Up Rented Chairs

If you’ve rented chairs for your wedding or reception or are using the venue’s chairs, but you aren’t crazy about how they look, any chair can be easily dressed up with some tulle or ribbon. Tying ribbon or tulle around the seat or around the back can transform even the most mundane chairs into something unique and beautiful.

This is always a good way to make generic chairs look like they are supposed to be a part of your wedding, especially if you use ribbon, fabric, or tulle that matches your wedding colors. In order to get all the chairs decorated, you might need a little extra help, but just enlist your bridesmaids or your family to cut ribbon and affix it to the chairs.

How to Throw a Last Minute Party

Party Supplies Bucks County PA

Whether you forgot that it was your best friend’s birthday this weekend or just want to throw an impromptu celebration for your wife’s promotion, throwing a great last-minute party is possible and it doesn’t even have to be stressful. With the right party supplies and the right tips, you can easily whip up a party that your guests will think took you months to plan.

Determine the Theme of Your Party

Not every party has to have a theme, of course, but make sure you have a clear idea of what this party is for. For example, if you’re throwing a birthday party for your nephew, you want to make sure everything from here on out is child appropriate.

If you do want to have a theme for your party, here are a few cute child’s birthday party themes, for which you can find decorations just about anywhere and all year long:

• Harry Potter
• Dinosaurs
• Space
• Lord of the Rings
• Racecars

While parties that are just for adults are less likely to have a theme, you can still throw one in. Some great themes for adult parties might be:

• Masquerade
• Black and white
• Characters from a movie or series of movies
• A time period
• A specific country

Even if your party doesn’t have a theme, you’re not going to be at a loss for great decorations. Check out our party supply store for decorations that are both specific to different themes and generic enough to be used for just about every party.

Sending out Invitations

While etiquette might dictate that sending out paper invitations is still the most polite plan of action, with a last minute party, it might not always be feasible. It’s not called “snail mail” because the postal service is known for their lightning fast deliveries.

When it comes to last minute parties, sending out an email or setting up a Facebook event and sending out invitations is the best way to make sure that everyone on your invite list is notified of the party and has all of the necessary information about theme, location, and time. Even just a quick round of text messages with a directive to RSVP as quickly as possible might be acceptable, depending on how short notice your party actually is.

If you don’t want to send out a mass text message and also feel that an email or a Facebook event is too impersonal, enlist a friend and start calling everyone you want to invite.

What to Clean

Even if you have a full day before your party, you might not have time to actually deep clean your house like you would if the party had been planned months ago. This means you have to come up with a system to get the house looking neat and tidy, before anyone sets foot inside, without spending your entire day just vacuuming and dusting.

If your party is going to be confined just to a few rooms, only clean those rooms. If your guests are going to be free to roam the house, go through the house with a basket, pick up any mess and stuff it in the basket. Then, hide that basket away somewhere until you can deal will all those messes after the party. Then, run through the house with a duster and the vacuum, a few hours before the party starts. It doesn’t have to be pristine, it just has to meet your minimum standards for presenting your home to friends and guests.

Decorations

Making your own decorations might down like a good way to cut the costs of your last minute party, but it’s also a good way to eat up most of your party planning time, especially if you’re not particularly crafty. Instead of trying to make banners and pennants and other decorations yourself, pick out a few coordinating pieces from a party supply store. Many stores will carry banners, cups, plates, wall hangings, and balloons in just about every color, and specially made to coordinate or match exactly.

Another great way to make any room look like a party room is to string white or colored Christmas lights on the walls, across mantels, and even across the ceiling. This might even allow you to turn off the overhead lights and create a comfier, cozier atmosphere.

What to Eat

The easiest way to provide food for an impromptu party is to turn the party into a potluck, with different categories of dishes assigned to each of your guests, so you get a good variety of food.

On the other hand, you might be determined to provide all of the food yourself—in that case, you might need to rely on your local grocery store. Most provide plain and frosted cupcakes, plain and frosted cakes, and even just a range of donuts. Many will also have platters of food, like cut vegetables or shrimp, which you just have to open and set out to feed your hungry guests. Most stores even have large, party sized frozen meals like lasagna that you can just open an hour before the party and bake in your oven.

If you want your meals to have a more personal touch, try making something in the crockpot that you can just throw together and then let cook while you finish the rest of your preparations. If you have more than one crockpot or can borrow one from a neighbor or friend, you could even make a variety of different slow cooker dishes that need almost no maintenance during the day but will still taste delicious when it’s time to party.

Need help with your party?  Tent Rentals, Party Rentals & Event Rentals in Philadelphia can be found here: BucksMontParty.com