by Nick Tarr
When you are planning a party you are creating an event; a memory; a happening. Hopefully something that will make a lasting impression in the minds of your guests.
Having performed at over 1,000 birthday parties for kids and adults I thought I would share some tips to help make your next event a successful one.
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The Do's and Don'ts Of a good party
HOT>>>>> Living in a hot climate like Phoenix, especially if you are having a party in the summer, it is essential that your guests feel comfortable. People spend good money on food, beverages, decorations and entertainment yet they penny pinch on lowering the thermostat. I have seen people spend thousands of dollars on their big 40 or 50th birthday and yet keep the temp. at 78 degrees. By the time their guests have come in and out the room temp. is around 85-90. They then try to adjust but the coolers can't work that fast.
So, crank up the room temp. at least 6-8 hours before the party. Keep in mind that you and others will be going in and out and so will the nice cool air. It might cost you an extra $30.00 that day but it is worth it.
As well, if you are having a party in the summer try to avoid foods that require to be heated, either by the oven or with stenos. Serve cool foods or keep the heat out side and away from the exits.
Replace candles with other sources of mood lights.
Turn on all the ceiling fans.
This goes for pool parties as well. Not all of your guest will go in the pool and it is important to think of them as well.
COLD>>>>> If you are having it at a cooler time of year provide rental heaters for outside. If you are having entertainment outside it is a must. Warm foods and liquor is a great idea as well.
2) Light: If you are having a party that will go until it gets dark you should provide light. I have done shows where people felt like the back porch light would be used as a spot light. It is in no way a spot light. Spot lights need to be in front of the entertainment not behind them.
Providing rope light or even old Christmas tree lights can work to make sure your guests are able to see and not trip and hurt themselves.
Lights are important in the front yard as well so that guest can find your house more easily. Luminaries are a nice way to decorate as well as provide light.
Indoor lighting is also important if you are trying to video or take photos.
3) Food: Remember to buy more than you need and things that you can save and enjoy after the party. You will always drink those extra sodas and use those unopened bag of chips. Fancy foods are great if you have the budget but remember the shrimp goes first!!! So layer your food placement. If you want to show off with shrimp then put out one platter every few hours.
People enjoy food that is really tasty or really filling. Keep in mind, gourmet food comes at a gourmet price. After it is eaten it is gone. Try to add things to your party that will make your event special and remembered.
Do your homework on catering. Buyer beware!!!
4) Have a plan: Know when you want to end your party, get a good estimate on how many people can fit in your home or banquet room comfortably. Too many in a small living area is as bad as not enough in a large hotel ballroom.
If you are having a kids party, kid proof your home. This goes for adult parties where you have friends that bring their kids or for people that drink too much. Sorry does not fix that $5,000 piece of art.
5) A mix of drinks. Have a good supply of everything. Not everyone likes diet. Not everyone likes red wine. Some people can only drink fruit juices. These things can always be used in the future.
6) Plan ahead: If you are having a large party in August then stock up on the store savings BEFORE the 4th of July. You will save big time. If you're sending out invitations for a surprise, start gathering names and addresses at least six months before the event. Reservations for equipment or restaurant or hotel facilities need to be done well in advance. (This includes entertainment) Take time to think… about everything that you might need. A Checklist is a great idea!
7) Film and Batteries: I can not tell you how many fights have occurred because the husband or the wife did not recharge the cam corder battery or it is an hour show like I do and they only have a battery that lasts 30 min. Be ready. Photos and video are lasting memories long after the food is gone.
One nice idea is to buy ten or 15 of the single use cameras. Either the guest will take them home as a thank you or you will see things that you normally would have missed.
Having somebody videotape the event for you is a nice idea. But be sure your friend (or who ever video tapes it) is qualified to do so.
Know your own equipment!! The reason I mention this is, I've been at parties where I hand somebody a CD and ten minutes later they're still trying to figure out how to work it on their system. This KILLS the flow of good entertainment.
8) Money: For a few it is not a worry. (Wish we were both in that group…) For the rest of us this might help. If your event is a big one, like 40th or 10-year anniversary, save up for it, ask friends to pitch in, in-leu of bringing gifts, spend it on you as well as your guests. By this I mean, hire a bartender or waiter so you can enjoy your party and friends and not be a maid at your own celebration. Sometimes a friend can do it for you and then when they have a big party you do it for them. NO COST.
Have cash for tips for the hired help. 20% is the norm but if they did a great job give them more and if they did a bad job no tip at all. It is their job to bring your party to life with smiles and not bring "their" life and troubles to your party.
Having extra cash on hand is also great if you run out of something and need to make a run to the store.
9) Decorations: This is a personal thing but for me, I am too into saving the earth to buy products only to throw them away the next day. Renting is where my heart is. It doesn't cost as much at those costume shops as you might think. People remember big things more so than they remember the pirates on your cups. Have you ever walked away from a party and said " Those were the finest paper plates I have ever seen." Nope, didn't think so.
10) For a good well-rounded party you need to have good food, great drinks, the right guest and entertainment.
Think of all the parties that you have gone to and what stands out. A party without music will be over in no time. Silence at a party is not golden… it's deadly.
Most of all, Entertainment placed at the correct time and location of an event is something people will never forget.
I've been fortunate, as a variety entertainer, to be the hit of the party many many times. I've heard from people years later, still talking about 'that time you came as the Church lady', or 'I can't believe you got my husband and my brother to do the Full-Monty Dance! It was Great!'
If you have any other questions or needs, regardless of if you are thinking of hiring me, feel free to call. If I can help or be a resource for you, I will be glad to do so.
Thank you, Nick Tarr
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