Monday, August 17, 2015

Lessons on giving a Party!

Last weekend I hosted an open house party in honor of my daughter going off to college. There were over 100 people through the house; family, friends and tons of teenagers.
There was a buffet, mimosas and cold drinks.  I rented a big tent in the back yard and had valet parking. I had not hosted a party for a while so I was a bit out of practice. I had some successes and some regrets, so I thought I would share.

1. Make sure you know what you want the party to look like.

I scoured the internet, specifically Pintrest on ideas for a scheme for my party.  The college colors for Vanderbilt (where my daughter will be attending) are black and gold.  Black is an easy color to find party wear, but the gold colored plates and accessories are not so pretty. So instead I opted for black and white with a touch of gold.  I sourced napkins and plates and table runners from amazon and also from mt local Party City.  But what the guests noticed most were the fun quirky accessories like the paper straws and painted wooden spoons from Sucre Shop.  Its a big bang for not a lot of buck!

FYI, I borrowed a lot of the Vanderbilt decorations from a fellow classmates party that was held back in May!  They were glad to get some use out of it and I was happy to add it in.

2. Be specific about what you expect from your caterer.

I chose my caterer based on recommendations.  But I did not receive the same quality as others.  Ask your Caterer specific questions.  What are you going to serve that is homemade?  What food will you buy frozen and warm up?  Just because someone you know tells you that the caterer makes the best muffins does not mean they will bring those to to the party and not store bought.  

3. What is the price? 

For an open house pay for food for a specific amount of people, not the for the people who show up.
Find out what others people paid for their event.  Repeat customers may get a price break, but if you are paying full fare expect full service.
Servers are an additional cost per hour.  You need them to set up the food and replenish during the party, but should the caterer also call themselves a server and charge for their presence at your event?  I think not, but this is an expense you must clarify. 

4.What are the serving pieces that the caterer provides and what do they look like? 

Do they coordinate with your scheme and aesthetic?  Will the caterer re plate on your personal items if requested?

5. A word of advice for guests: If you have a question about the food being served before you arrive at the party, contact the host, not the caterer.  

Even if you know the caterer well, the host is in charge of the party.  If you have dietary concerns call them.  But don't expect the menu to change because of your needs.  The host may be able to accommodate you or you may just have to eat before you come by.  But this discussion should be between you and the host, not the caterer.

6. Finally, make sure your help is friendly.  

This is your party and if you feel in anyway uncomfortable that is unfortunate.  Having friends around to help and have your back is always a plus.

My party was a success. And I am sure that my guests had no idea of what drama had ensued. You can say all is well that ends well. But, next time I will be more careful.

If all else fails, pour yourself a Mimosa.

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