Party Planning Tips & Advice

Now that Halloween is over it’s time to look forward to the holiday season! For those brave souls with young kids who host a party, we commend you. It’s not easy, it is stressful and leaves a mess! If your mother is anything like mine, you’ll remember the old days when your mom hosted and ran around the house panicking about getting things clean, tidy and getting the food cooked.  For a funny recreation, watch this video and reminisce.

Whether you are hosting an upcoming holiday party or if you are planning a first birthday celebration, we have some tips for you! We talked to Meg Bircher, owner of the event planning company Birch & Bee Events, and asked her our pesky questions about how to make throwing a party a little less stressful, and hopefully even easy! She’s been in the event planning business for years, so she really knows her stuff.  Happy Holidays to everyone and we hope that your turkey turns out delicious and your tree stays vertical – with toddlers running around, anything can happen!

When someone is throwing a party, but only wants to focus on the essentials, what are the must-dos?

Stick to the basics with food, drinks, and some form of entertainment. The two memorable things people will notice are the quality of the food and the atmosphere. If budget isn’t an issue, hire a caterer and make your life easier. The worst part is when you plan too many complicated appetizers or recipes and spend the entire night in the kitchen. You end up stressed and your guests are there to see you! For more budget friendly, mix and match a cheese and meat board with some already prepared appetizers. Recruit your husband or friend to make a playlist before the event and you are good to go!

While this will vary from party type to party type, what are some easy decor tips you have for making your home festive?

Head to your local Target and shop the $1 section.  I am always amazed walking by there and seeing how many festive things they have that look a lot like more expensive stores. Find easy to-do crafts online that you can do with your kids or better yet, integrate the decorating with a craft that your guests can do especially for a kid-friendly party!  Candles make a big difference creating a more intimate and inviting atmosphere. And lastly, focus your efforts on your Front Door or the entrance your guests will be arriving/leaving from.

What do people often forget to do or buy when throwing a party? Do you have tips for finger food?

Ice. It is the one item you will call anyone who hasn’t arrived yet and ask them to swing by the gas station for. Stock up as you often need it not just for the cocktails but for coolers and food prep. For finger food, my go-to is the crostini!  It is the simplest yet most elegant appetizer. You can play it up or dress it down and cater depending on the season.  Here are my two favorite recipes tried and true from Pinterest.

Pesto Crostini with ricotta, roasted pine-nut tomatoes, garnished with fresh basil – recipe courtesy of Floating Kitchen

Goat Cheese Crostini with granny smith apples, golden raisins, and rosemary garnish – recipe courtesy of Running to the Kitchen

Meatballs are also great. You can make ahead of time in a slow cooker and guests can grab with a skewer and they stay warm throughout the party. And the charcuterie board is big right now – this is a great trend going into the new year and you can pile them high with mixed cheeses, meats, and fruits.

What’s your stance on goody bags? Some moms love them and it stresses others out. Any classic things to include in them?

Goody bags are still great for kid’s parties. But don’t feel like you need to go overboard with entertainment at the party (activity, clown, bouncy house, etc.) and do goody bags. Stick with one or the other and the kiddos will be happy. My sister-in-law had an awesome idea for her son’s 1st birthday and hired a professional photographer to take pictures of the day and families. As a gift, the parents were able to have professional family photos that they could download. I thought this was a great idea, especially since one-year-olds didn’t care about goody bags – well, yet at least!

Doing something unique like professional photos can be a lot of fun and last longer than a candy filled goody bag.

What’s your opinion on paper vs electronic invites?

Formal or mile-stone parties, paper is a must. Casual parties can be electronic. Electronic is definitely much more convenient for the host but it can also be harder to track. Sometimes people don’t receive the invites or think its spam depending on the site you use. You might have to reach out to get accurate RSVP counts. With the internet, they have so many invitation sites these days, you can usually find a good deal on paper invites. I have found great deals or found a less expensive Etsy option with up and coming designers.

You’re an aunt already to 7 kids! What are the best kid party ideas you’ve heard?

Don’t have the party at your house if possible!  For kid parties, you have to account for kids + parents which means double the people in your house. If you can manage it budget-wise, find a local park, swimming pool, or neat activity to have the party at. You won’t have to worry about cleaning your house or it being a mess after the party. Depending on when the child’s birthday falls, tailor the party to the season and find a fun activity that your child enjoys doing. And recruit your family members to come help with the food, kid corralling, and partake in the party FUN!

Thanks again to Meg for her help! You can find her company on Facebook @birchandbee. Happy planning!