This past weekend we hosted our 5th Annual Halloween Party and it was a huge success! I’ve learned a lot hosting these every year and am here to help you pull off a flawless party that your guests will LOVE.
It all starts with a plan. I can’t stress this enough. You don’t need to be as aggressive as I am with the timing (I start planning in August!), but a successful party is not pulled together in a day or two. You need to dedicate time to all the details. Giorgio Armani once said “To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail”.
The first thing I always begin with is a theme. Choosing a theme for your party provides your guests with direction. It sets expectations if you will. Costumes are always a requirement at my party (it is Halloween!), and by sharing a theme, it helps my guests narrow in on a costume and allows for them to still be as creative as they want. This years theme was TV Characters. To set the tone of the party, I created this invite:
Since the theme was TV Characters, I made the invite to look like a TV Guide. I scoured eBay for TV guides and then adhered my hand drawn invitations to them. The illustrations I chose to draw reflected the various directions my guests could go in terms of TV. I also included those details in the Contents page, where I highlighted the details of the party. It’s details like this that help guide your guests to what the party will entail.
Once invitations have been sent out, I start planning the food. Again, having a theme helps so much with this part. Continuing with the TV theme, I researched shows with food having strong presence or silent character if you will. For example, when you think of House of Cards, BBQ plays a big role in the show. Or Big Bang Theory. Food is a key component for the group - Mondays is Thai, Tuesday Cheesecake Factory, Friday Chinese Take out, etc. I like to have a balance of savory and sweet. After narrowing down my options, this is what I created for the menu and then correlated it back to the show it’s know for:
Logistics is also key! When setting up the food and drink stations, think about how your guests will mingle, move and interact. We’ve done a lot of trial and error with this one and I think we finally found a set up that works for us. This year we put all the food in the kitchen on our island that you can walk all the way around and then had the drink station in the living room. In years past we’ve had both in the kitchen (which caused a TON of congestion) or food on the dining room table and drinks at our bar (also causing congestion and didn’t give people a lot of seating room). With the food on the island, it freed up our other island (attached to a wall so you can’t walk around it) as well as the dining room table for seating. This allowed people to easily move between rooms for food and drink. I was having such a good time at the party, I didn’t capture photos of either of the set ups! #fail But, my friend Ted snapped this one so you can get an idea of how I set up my food table.
Lastly, I always do a photo booth of some sort. It doesn’t need to be fancy. In years past, I’ve simply hung a sheet up in front of a wall and set my camera up on a tripod for everyone to snap a photo of themselves. This year I used a photo backdrop stand and set my tripod up so everyone could mount their phones and get photos on their own devices. I still took a bunch with my phone, edited them, and then shared them with all the guests. It’s a great way to have a collective set of photos from the party for all to have.
It’s that easy to pull of a fabulous party. Just remember the details and plan, plan, plan. Clearly I didn’t plan well for the photos part for this post. If I’d been smart, I would have allocated time before the party began to snap all the photos I’d need to show off each step, something for next year I guess. It’s always a learning process with ways to improve. We’re so geeky about this party, we actually have a discussion the day after on the wins and opportunities of the party and what we would make better next year! HA! Just remember to plan and everything will turn out great.