This post will wrap up my series of Party Planning 101. So far, I've discussed occasion and event style; budget, location and date/time; and the guest list, invitation and menu. Now, let's turn our attention to activities, favors and extras (photographer, music, etc).
These three things are largely dependent on the type of event you're hosting. Planning a wedding? Then favors, photographers, music and more are probably necessary. Planning a casual get-together for the Homeowners Association? Not so much.
Activities: Most parties simply involve adults socializing with one another. That's fine. No need to complicate things by insisting they do something. However, I would urge you to think of any kids who might attend. With large groups of kids, they tend to create their own fun. If there are only a few kids attending, or some quiet kids are in the larger group, you might consider providing some kind of games or crafts for them. Set up a crafting corner with an easy project (put all pieces in individual baggies) or put out some board games for older kids. If you have the room, you might even put in a kid-friendly video and provide some popcorn and juice boxes. In the event of a very formal affair (such as a wedding), you might hire a babysitter to supervise the children.
Activities for bridal showers and baby showers are obvious...play some games and watch the guest/s of honor open gifts. Later in the year, I'll post my ideas for fun shower themes and games. In the meantime, if you need ideas, email me. I have plenty!
Favors: Again, for casual parties, favors are not necessary. Unless you are sending home leftovers with guests, in which case make sure you have plenty of containers before hand. For special occasions, such as weddings, showers and kids' birthday parties, favors are often given. The Martha Initiative's advice for favors is the same for the rest of the party elements: don't break the bank. Something small and thoughtful is a lot better than large and clunky. Personally, I like edible favors. After all, do you really want to be responsible for sending people home with a knick-knack that they will only collect dust? A useful knick-knack, fine. A plastic baby bootie with a ribbon on it? Not so much.
Extras: Things like photographers, music, videographer, DJ and more are vendors usually reserved for weddings, anniversary parties, bar/bat mitzvahs and other fancy occasions. Hire someone that is reputable, who gives/shows you samples of their work, provides references (check the references!), gives you a contract that clearly outlines their services and deliverables and is a pleasure to work with. If any vendor leaves you with doubts or second thoughts, then continue your search. Your money, and the time you are spending to plan the event, is too important to squander on poor service or product.
There are a few occasions out of the norm when it would be a great idea to hire a photographer. A milestone birthday: hire a photographer (or persuade a friend who's handy with a camera) to take pictures of the action, so you can focus on the guests. Family reunion: this is an ideal time to have a photographer come out for formal and candid shots. A professional can catch the action and set up wonderful family portraits.
For this weekend, we are keeping things very low-key. This is by DH's request, not by my planning. For example, I wanted to have a DH Trivia Contest, complete with prizes, but DH squashed that idea real quick. We won't have favors, although I'm sure I'll be sending food home with whoever is there last. And there's no need to hire anyone, but we'll have music on and I'll be armed with a camera.
Starting next Tuesday...Party Planning 102! Or, the How It All Came Together: A rundown of my party preparation, recipes and a ton of pictures.