Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, everyone should host at least one festive gathering of family and friends to celebrate something- thankfulness, Christ’s birth, a new year, a new love, a lasting love, etc... In our house, there is much to celebrate between November and January; thanksgiving, day-after-thanksgiving-sales (no, really), Christmas, our wedding anniversary, New Year’s day-which also doubles as my birthday, and two days later, my youngest daughter’s birthday! We squeeze in a lot of partying. Are you always the one waiting for an invitation to the parties, but never hosting one of your own? What are you waiting for? Stop worrying about all the excuses that you have been using for not having people over. Here’s the deal: If you invite them, they will come. Just keep it simple, do a bit of preplanning, stick to your budget, and let the good times roll!
What’s The Plan? First, start off by thinking about who will be invited. To keep your party in the low-cost zone, consider emailing invitations, using the fabulous and free www.evite.com . You’ll have tons of stylish invitations for any occasion from which to choose.
What’s The Budget? Decide how much you can afford to spend on the shindig and stick to it! If your budget is $100, withdraw that amount in cash and place it in an envelope labeled “party.” When the envelope is empty, the party shopping is over. By using cash, it helps you to think more carefully about each purchase before making it. Make a promise to yourself, “I won’t let my credit card be my back-up plan.”
What’s The Menu? Be strategic here because the food costs can get out of hand. Decide if your budget can accommodate hors d'oeuvres, a casual buffet, or a sit-down meal. Serve dishes that are economical (think rice dishes, bean dishes, dinner rolls, etc.) and in season (right now, you’ll pay a premium price to make your recipe that calls for cherry tomatoes and red peppers). Also, save big by limiting, or eliminating, alcohol as a beverage options. For more tips on how to plan the right amount of food for your guests visit www.greatpartyrecipes.com
What’s The Theme/Mood? Don’t make it too elaborate-to set a festive tone, consider something as simple as picking a color scheme. Pick up coordinating ribbon from a discount fabric store or dollar store and use it to add pops of color throughout the party area. If possible, carry your color-scheme to your serving table with a tablecloth or fabric; it adds an elegant touch. Don’t forget the music; it has the power to help guests let go of their cares and get their (mental) party hats on. Consider relaxing to the sounds of smooth jazz for your wine and cheese party. You can even let the television be your free DJ; most cable services offer commercial-free music channels in a variety of genres. Are you a big Michael Jackson fan? Let his music inspire the vibe of your gathering. You may even invite guests to let Michael inspire their wardrobe selection.
What’s the secret to throwing a memorable holiday party? First, it starts with a charming host who opens her/his home, despite________ (fill in your own excuse). Next, it’s inviting the people that you love(or want to love), having something to nibble on, and thinking ahead about creating a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere that screams (or whispers),” Enjoy!”
Marcia Humphrey is an interior decorator and home stager who specializes in achieving high style at a low cost. A native of Michigan, she and her husband, Lonnie, have three children.