Party Planning

At this time of year, when people are frequently hosting parties and having guests, here are a few things I've learned over the years of parties and events we've hosted in our home. 

- A lot of people worry during a party whether or not each guest is having a good time.  I gave up worrying about this a long time ago.  One year, I looked around our home filled with wonderful friends, and was just overwhelmed at what fabulous friends God had blessed us with.  And the thought occured to me, "If someone doesn't have a good time at this party, it's their own fault, because we have really fun friends!"  That was a turning point for me.  I absolved myself of the responsibility and let each person own it themselves.  So complaints!

-Forget about creating a "perfect" party, and focus on creating memories for people.  You'll be happier, and everyone will love your party!  This is probably my best party planning tip.  It changes everything.

-Remember the little guests.  Remember to greet all the children at your party, offer to pour them a drink, ask them if they got enough to eat, point them towards the trampoline, have some crayons and paper handy, fill the candy jars, have a few foods that they'll remember (those would be gingerbread men at our party).

- Let your invitations set the tone for your party.  The wording on a Christmas party invitation should be joyous in tone!  Ours typically say something like, "Come!  Be of cheer!  Indulge your sweet tooth!"

- Serve a variety of beverages.  Even if it's a cold night, some people will want a cold drink.  Water should be available throughout the party.  People appreciate being able to choose the tea bag they want, so have a carafe of hot water available.  Coffee is a must.  I always have milk and sugar cubes available for coffee and tea drinkers.  (I use sugar cubes because they're fun, and occassionally little kids sneak a few...and that's a happy party memory for them!)  Don't forget stir sticks or spoons.  I avoid serving hot cocoa, because if it spills it's bad news for the carpet.

- Serve a variety of foods.  Even for our cookie party, I make sure there's something for people who like chocolate and those who don't, for nut lovers and people with nut allergies.

- Have fresh fruit available for people who would just like something fresh.  I'm always happy when people ask me if they can eat an apple at a party filled with cookies.  It tells me that they feel at home at our home, and that's a blessing!

- Appeal to all the senses.  When you're planning your party, ask yourself, "What will appeal to people's sense of taste?" (food, drink, candy)  "What will appeal to the sense of smell?" (simmering wassail, no wet dog smells, scented candles)  "What will appeal to the sense of sight?"  (everything clean and pretty)  "What will appeal to the sense of touch?" (warm hugs for a welcome and parting greeting)  "What will appeal to the sense of hearing?" (background music, singing)

- Lighting should be ambient.  Overhead lights on dimmers are wonderful!  (The key is to have the lights up enough to keep people awake, but low enough to be cozy.)  Lamps turned on.  Candles lit.

- A warm welcome starts at the front door (or before).  We hang a lantern with a candle from our mailbox at the street.  This year we set lanterns all along our front walk.  A pretty, seasonal wreath on the front door, potted plants on the front porch...all say "Welcome!  I've made a fuss for you because I love you!"

- Ask yourself, "What do I want people to remember about our party?" and plan your party to create those memories.  Then it's sure to be wonderful!


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