the first rule in party planning

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This afternoon I was at a going away party for my father-in-law.  There wasn’t a theme, there weren’t any decorations, the “special touches” that I love so much were non-existent.  However, I could tell that Mark’s friends put a great deal of thought and preparation into the party and it was absolutely perfect for him!

You see, my father-in-law loves to eat more than anyone I know.  With this in mind, the party planners focused all of their attention and budget on food!  They catered lunch from his favorite little burrito joint down town (even ordering mass quantities of his favorite dish on the menu so everyone could sample his signature order), made sure all of the necessary accoutraments were on hand (including chips from Qdoba), and finished things off with a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake (pictured above).

This is the perfect illustration of following Party Planning Rule #1- Honor Your Guest of Honor!

In all aspects of party planning, we would do well to follow one guiding question, “Would this delight our guest of honor?”  If the answer is yes, we proceed with our plans… if the answer is no, we should continue to search for something that will.

In an ideal world, there would be time, energy and resources for every party to have a menu perfectly suited the guest of honor, a signature cocktail, decorative accents that match the mood, coordinating “special touches” and a dessert buffet with their favorite treats in their favorite palette (images from martha, milla love and amy atlas).  However, since that’s not feasible (well, not for me), prioritizing is our best chance of honoring the guest of honor.

Is your guest of honor a foodie?  Pour your attention into the menu, serve things they love, use high quality ingredients, and spend more of your budget on food.  You can also determine the type of food based on your guest of honor’s preferences.  Do they have a sweet tooth?  Make the party a dessert soiree.  Do they love Sunday brunch?  Serve cinnamon rolls from their favorite bakery, monkey bread, zucchini muffins and quiche.

Likewise, if your guest of honor loves little details, go all out on the look of the party.  They’ll notice the attention to detail, love the decor, the presentation and minutia.  The time you spend putting together the little details won’t be lost on them, and hence are worth the effort they require.

For example, in December, my sweet friends put together a surprise party for my birthday.  Because they know how much I LOVE all of the little touches that can accompany a party, they went all out.  There was a whole host of tissue pom poms hanging from the ceiling, there were coordinated banners, there was a paper flower making station, the food was artfully presented, there was an entire buffet of delicious drink options including my favorite, brandi slush, there were paper poppies and chocolate covered blueberry favors (pictured) for the guests to take home.  It. was. perfect. for. me.  I felt cherished and cared for and celebrated.  How wonderful!

And maybe that’s the litmus test we leave each party with- “Was it perfect for the guest of honor?”  Because hospitality, true hospitality, is much more about the guests than the hostess.  And if our answer to that question is yes, than no matter how everything else went, the party was a success!

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