Pinterest Party Syndrome...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    I love a party more than anyone.   However, in the age of Pinterest (Instagram, blogging, etc),  photos of gorgeous parties seem to be taking over the world.  Images like this one are popping up all over making party hosts think that their parties need to look like this or they are inadequate 

 I've hosted and gone to some amazing parties over the years. I've been to some pretty crappy ones too, so I consider myself a mini-expert.  Just because a party looks Pinterest Perfect, does not mean it is going to be good.  (Don't you think that baby above was about to knock that gorgeous cake unto her sister who will then start punching her?

Decorations/Ambiance/Flowers, etc are nice but not the most important things.  Trust me, the following tips apply to almost any party from the most humble little get together at your kitchen table to a black tie Wedding for 500.

1. Don't cheap out on the food.  

  •  When it comes to budgeting, spend money to make sure that the food is good and plentiful. Yes, I am a Jewish mother, but putting out a plate of finger sandwiches for a crowd of 50 is not going to cut it in any crowd (except for my anorexic  health conscious Miami girlfriends)  I'm not saying that you have to serve surf and turf but make sure that the food is fresh, plentiful and tasty. Don't run out. 

  • A party is not the time to push your diet on people. Even the skinniest minnies that I know plan to eat at parties. Some of them starve themselves for days knowing that a big night is coming up.  Having a few healthy options is great, but make sure that you have  lots of the "good stuff".

2. Serve Alcohol
  •  If it is party for guests under 21 or recovering addicts, don't serve booze. If it is a regular party, people are going to expect alcohol. Don't underestimate how much people drink at a party.  I hosted a lunch for my son's Bar Mitzvah and the bar tab was 3 times what we had expected. Everyone had a blast so I'm not complaining but it is just something to keep in mind.  

  • The words "open bar" can make people go crazy so make sure you have enough ice, mixers, etc.  If your budget won't allow the hard stuff, make a signature drink like sangria or just serve beer and wine.   

  • As for parties for kids and teens. Unless it is a Bris/Bar Mitzvah/Quinces or other event where one would expect alcohol to be served, I say "no".  Having drunk Dads at the J.D. Finnigans Bouncy House World while they should be watching their kids is just an incident waiting to happen. Also, if you are serving alcohol, it is your responsibility to make sure that your under aged guests don't get liquored up.

3. Good Lighting

Once again, while decorations are fun to browse on Pinterest and, if you are crafty, actually make, I'd pick good lighting over fancy centerpieces every time. Once the room is full of people, everyone is looking at each other, not the driftwood/rhinestone sculptures that covered your dining room table for the seven months that you labored over them. 

  Good lighting makes every one look better and in turn, look better in photographs. When they look back on the pictures, they will remember how much fun that they had.

4.  Get Someone else to Help

  • If it is a big event like a wedding, you will, of course, hire a professional photographer. At smaller events, you will still want photos and as the host, you really need to concentrate on the party, not documenting it. If the party does not warrant a professional, pick two or three people and hand them cameras or ask them before the party if they will take shots.   

  • If you are hosting a big event and your budget allows, hire a party planner. Most of them are worth their weight in gold.  Like any professional, they think of things that don't even cross your mind. Plus, you don't ruin your blowout by sweating while setting up, you just show up at the party all pretty.  

  • If you want (or have to) do it all yourself, consider hiring an events person for the day of. Let that person tell the people working the party what to do.  At the very least, if you are hosting more than a couple of dozen people, enlist a friend to help. Real friends are always happy to help and are often happy for having something to do other than make small talk with your relatives.

5. Remember that Parties are supposed to be Fun 

It seems obvious, but focusing on the look of your party may divert your attention from your guests.  They will get the WOW factor when they walk into the room and see your Pinterest worthy look but if the party is dull, the Wow factor will fade quickly and they will be looking a their watches.

Depending on the occasion and people that you invite, food, drinks and company may be enough. However, if you are bringing together a mix of people that don't know each other, are of a certain age, etc, you may need activities for the kids, music/dancing games, etc. 

6. No one wants to see more than a five minute photo montage of any other person

Other than your parents or grandparents, no one wants to watch more than five minutes of photos of your child.  Seriously, five minutes is torture enough even if you child is North West-Kardashian. Edit it. Trust me on this one. You can send discs of the unedited version to the grandparents. They will love it!

7. No one wants your children, grand-children, etc to entertain them

Once again, other than your parents or grandparents, no one wants to hear little Sally perform on the piano, show her ballet moves or belt out show tunes. If you must have her perform, please make sure that it is limited to one short song.  This does not apply if you child is really famous. (If you child is Elton John, your friends will want to hear him sing and play all night and be disappointed if he does not )

8. Everyone loves a party favor

Some of the best parties that I have been to have had fresh, hot mini donuts  or NY style Hot Dogs being served curbside while the valet brings your car around.  A party favor is a must for any party where the guests are under 8, this is often the only way that you can get them to leave without having hissy fits.  The favor does not have to be extravagant. Even a tiny chocolate bar artfully or cleverly presented upon exit is appreciated by all.  

9. Remember your Role

A party host really must make sure that her guests are having a good time. You need to mingle. You need to keep an eye out to make sure that every one is getting served food. You need to make sure teenagers are not under the table clothes doing bad things.  Don't get drunk at your own party .Drink after your guests leave. This rule does not apply if it is your 21st Birthday, any of your other birthdays after age 39 or a family-only party. In fact, in those exceptions, you should imbibe.

10. Have Fun!

Even applying Rule 9, you should still have fun. If you are totally stressed out because the caterer forgot the bring the mini-hotdogs, your guests will feel like they have to make you feel better instead of just enjoying the shrimp.

  I spent the night at one of my friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah practically slapping my friend in the face. She was pissed about the video screen being smaller than the one she ordered or something like that and she was so pouty about it. The party was great but she was so pissy. Her good friends and I couldn't just enjoy the fun because we had to keep reassuring her that the party was so great.  It was sad because she spent all of that time and effort (and money) on planning the party and she couldn't wait for it to end.

And just remember, even Pinterest parties can go really bad…

Pinterest Perfect photo

Pinterest real life photo  ….


angryparsnip said...

Love all your rules but the last two photos say it all !

cheers, parsnip

NanaDiana said...

This is a GREAT party planning post! Seriously! You have everything right!!! Everything! I used to throw a lot of big parties but haven't had a huge one in a few years. I think I need to do that again. People would come early -even to open houses- and stay the whole time. Sometimes we would ask people to leave (the stragglers) when it was 3 am. lol

You are really right on with two things- Good food and good lighting!!!! We used to have someone bar-tending, too- xo Diana

Susie said...

Japolina, The pumpkin babies do not look happy. :) That first picture is beautiful...but you are right kids do not sit still . I personally do not want to see drunk daddies anywhere. Yuck. The thing about serving good food, you can have some left-overs to send along with friends and family. Hope you are having a fun weekend. xoxo,Susie

Anonymous said...

I'm also glad that I got married back in the old days, the bar is set so high nowadays, it would have been even more stressful.

Anonymous said...

I'm also glad that I got married back in the old days, the bar is set so high nowadays, it would have been even more stressful.

Mandy Southgate said...

Bwahahaha! You are so right - going cheap and getting substandard or insufficient food and drink for a party is not a good idea! I did not know you are Jewish! My mum is Jewish and my dad Catholic, so I guess I'm a mixture of both.

Courtney Sweet said...

lol I wouldn't want to be shoved in a pumpkin either...ick.

My name is Lydia said...

YES to ALL of this, and especially to number 6!! photo montages should be illegal at parties.

all good advice.

Jenny Woolf said...

What great ideas for a party. And those babies in pumpkins just made me laugh out loud! thank you for a super post.

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