As event designers, we find that there is nothing more satisfactory than the moments following a completed set-up for a party. We are able to step back—literally, to the edge of the room, and figuratively, from the weeks of planning, organizing and working—and see that what was once a normal space is now an entirely revitalized environment.
The best scenario, however, is when we get to throw ourselves a party and experience all of the moments after set-up (yes, that includes cleaning up after the fun-fueled evidence of a good time). In “un-honor” of one of our birthdays this fall, we decided to host A Very Merry Un-Birthday event for some friends—the perfect Mad Hatter tea party. Now, we would like to share with you a mini-guide to hosting your very own themed affair.
The Ultimate Mini-Guide to Becoming a Theme Party Host Extraordinaire
Map it Out
Have a plan! The best thing you can do for yourself is plan ahead. Consider what makes up a good party: food, drinks, décor, activities, music or entertainment, and comfort. What will your location be? Survey your options and try to choose one that sets the groundwork for your aesthetic—and always keep an open mind. You may be working out of your living room, but if approached with a little elbow grease, creativity, and plenty of passion you can achieve incredible ambience. We chose an exposed barn venue for a woodland feel and field space for croquet on the lawn.
Prepare as much as possible in the few days before your party. The more you achieve the night before an event, the less chance you have of rushing around the day of the party. This will permit you the time for last minute complications or store runs (always leave yourself time for the unexpected). Consider making spreads and dips and refrigerating them, or plan on making crockpot hors d’oeuvres that can slow-cook until the affair begins. And don’t forget to allot yourself some time to get dolled up before the guests arrive! We prepared our cookies and dips the night before, and put together finger sandwiches and our crock-pot mulled cider the day of.
Pre-damage Damage Control
Consider the many things that could possibly go wrong but are still within your foresight and control, and try to form backup plans. Of course, when that fails and you find yourself running late for a very important date, get clever and crafty. Our party took place partially outdoors, in an exposed barn. In the hubbub, we hadn’t considered lighting for the later hours of the party. We grabbed a tall friend and a ladder, some extension cords and indoor lamps, and hooked up our own shabby-chic lighting. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.
Keep it Simple, But Don’t Lose the Theme
A themed party does not mean going over the top. As event designers, the minor details are very important to us. We firmly believe that simple, subtle touches can really bring a concept together and sometimes better results come with theme-inspired parties. Our snacks were simple and delicious, but visually tied into the theme. Our table design was soft, but eclectic. Our suggested dress code was simply “tea party attire” with a recommended flair for the absurd, and we were pleased to see our friends took it above and beyond. Instead of going over-the-top Disney themed, we simply threw a rustic tea party with a Wonderland twist, incorporating elements of both the Disney classic and the literary originals. With the suggested dress code, we took some pressure off of our guests, allowing them to get an idea of the theme, but to still feel comfortable and free in their creativity. Finally, small touches really make the vent seamless; our hookah corner
suggested the presence of the Caterpillar, hanging playing cards over the bar gave a darker, Red Queen vibe, and tea-themed snacks tied the party flavor together. Even our “Drink Me” nips were playful, but not childish. To finish it all off, we had a viewing of Alice in Wonderland, and there is nothing like watching a movie outside to make you feel some childish wonder.
Become a Guest
Okay, you’ve cooked and baked, you’ve trimmed and stitched, and you’ve taped and tacked. Now what? Hang up your apron, kick back, and have a drink of course! A good host creates a fun environment for his or her guests—a better host allows him-or herself to be a part of the memory. For more photos of our Alice in Wonderland inspired tea party, check out the album on Facebook.
Rambling House – Rambling House is an event and food design company that specializes in personalized event décor and unique culinary products with a local focus. A traditional Irish “Rambling House” is a family home where localsgather to share in good conversation, storytelling, and song and dance. We strive to bring that spirit of community, tradition, and celebration together with each personal touch we add to your event, from handmade décor to our quality dishes produced from local food sources. Above all, our mission is to make your family and friends feel right at home. Visit Rambling House Events on Facebook.
Rambling House is an event and food design company that specializes in personalized event décor and unique culinary products with a local focus.
Sources – All photographs are courtesy of Donna DeSimone Photography