Tuesday, 19 August 2014

When Planning a Party Expect the Unexpected AND the Uninvited!

I’ll never forget one of the first parties I ever threw for my oldest son where I invited his friends, as opposed to just having the family over.  It was the year he started Kindergarten.  Not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings I had insisted he invite all of the boys in his class as well as a handful of girls.  I believe there were 18 on the guest list.  My mom always said to invite twice as many guests as you really expect to show up but obviously times have changed and almost all of them came...and then some!  I made a lot of mistakes with that first party and I have to say it is amazing I wanted to ever host a party again. Mistakes are opportunities to learn but it is always easier to learn without having to make the mistake yourself so here are a few of the lessons I learned with that first party.

Lesson #1: When planning an outdoor party you can NEVER count on the weather to cooperate. My son’s birthday is at the end of March and it rarely snows in Victoria in January, let alone in March, so the expectation that it could be an outdoor party was not unrealistic. As luck would have it, Victoria had a freak snow storm that day and I was forced to bring the party inside after originally planning to hold it outside.  ALWAYS have a plan B for the location of your party when planning an outdoor party.

Lesson #2: If you are serving food at your party, make sure you have it all prepared before hand so you only have to warm it up or have someone else be in charge of cooking it so you can concentrate on the guests.  Having the party location change at the last minute wasn’t that traumatic but the fact that I had mistakenly thought I was expected to serve lunch and was frantically rushing about trying to have the food ready when the party started while simultaneously greeting guests and entertaining 5 year olds was.

Lesson #3: Unexpected guests may show up.  With my son’s party I hadn’t considered the fact that some of the parents were meeting me for the first time and since the guests were young it is normal, apparently, for parents and families to be included in the festivities.  Being a newbie host at kid parties I didn’t realize this expectation until one of the guest’s dad, step mom and little brother waltzed in and happily announced as they proceeded to take off the 2 year old’s coat and shoes, “He is so excited to come to his first party!”  All I could think was, “But he wasn’t invited!”  I quickly grabbed a goodie bag for the toddler and told the lady, “You can come back in 2 hours to pick up his brother.”

No party is going to go perfectly, there will always be a few surprises, but if you know that in advance and are willing to be a bit flexible you will survive and your party will be a success.  I’d love to hear some of the things you have learned from your parties.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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