July 24: Thursday Thirteen #6

Time again for Thursday Thirteen.

For years, my roommate and I threw huge parties that were loads of fun. People would send us thank you notes afterward, just for being invited. Although my husband is not quite as interested in party planning as my roommate was, he follows directions well and is a lot of help to me when I do it. And even though we don’t have these big bashes as often as we used to, we still put a lot of effort into making them memorable and fun for our guests.

Last weekend was an early celebration of my 40th birthday party, an honor that I shared with four other friends also turning 40 this year. We had approximately 80 guests stuffed into our house—a bit larger than our usual party size—but, like old times, it was a fabulous evening for nearly everyone. Using this event and the planning that led up to it, here are some suggestions for throwing large parties in your home.

13 of Jen’s party planning rules


  1. If, when hearing about the party, a friend tells you they’re willing to help, remember that. If you can’t find anything for them to do, you will as the party date nears. It’s hard for me to ask for help, but when I remember that time I had an hour left before guests arrived and I still hadn’t showered or made the hollandaise, I remember how important it is to enlist the help of friends. Even more important: Do not ask unsanitary folk to handle food, especially if I’m invited to your party.
  2. Use your party date as motivation to get projects done around your house. Been meaning to paint your kitchen for months? Do it now. Do not, however, start anything that can’t be finished on time; an unpainted kitchen is better than a half-painted one.
  3. Make a list of ALL items that you’ll need for the party, not just the big things. With cake, you need candles, lighter, knife, serving spatula, etc. Don’t wait until cake time to start looking for them.
  4. Even if you don’t want to do much decorating, make a few bouquets of helium-filled balloons. They’re festive, fun and very easy. Send them home with the kids after the party.
  5. Confetti is also fun and festive—I love to sprinkle handfuls on the tables—but you’ll be finding it long after the party’s over. Consider alternative décor, or keep that vacuum cleaner handy for a few months.
  6. IKEA has glassware and tableware that is inexpensive (and sturdier than plastic, obviously). Consider spending a little bit more for party supplies that you can use several times.
  7. Put a few people in charge of specific tasks, à la Joe Mayo. Want everyone to wear name tags? Ask someone to make sure guests get them when they arrive. Want a guest book signed? Ask someone to take care of passing it around. As a host, you can’t take care of everything, and not having to worry about the little things will give you more time to socialize with your guests.
  8. If some of your guests are kids, make sure some of your food is kid-friendly.
  9. If you don’t want leftover food or cake, plan to send it home with your guests. Have disposable food containers, plastic wrap, plates, zip-loc bags, etc. ready to fill.
  10. Nobody ever eats as much as you expect them to. Don’t provide less food and risk running out; just make sure you LIKE what you serve because you’ll probably be eating it for a week afterward.
  11. Ask a few different people to take pictures throughout the party. Make the photos available to your guests on a site like Flickr, so they can view them and order prints if they choose.
  12. This is your party; give yourself the opportunity to enjoy it. Only jackass guests complain to the hostess about other guests, food selection, or crappy beer (um, it’s free! SHUT UP!). Don’t let them ruin your otherwise enjoyable evening.
  13. Schedule a massage for yourself in the day or two after the party as a little pampering reward for a job well done. But a brow wax and spray-on tan? They should not be done the day of the party. Have them done earlier in the week. Trust me on this.

Please share your valuable party tips in a comment. Thanks!

23 comments:

  1. Wow, those are all some great tips. I am not a big party person myself so I have no great tips.
    Loved this as a TT, mine is up @ The Cafe, a review of Mamma Mia if you'd like to pop in.

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  2. I just did a large graduation open house for my son. I'm glad to say I did really good comparing what I did to you list. I just missed #13 and think I make do it this week. Happy TT

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  3. I love the photo tip! Its the best part of a party - to see all the pics cos everyone sees it differently!

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  4. Fabulous party suggestions. I especially like the one about have a couple of people take photos and post them to the Internet. Thanks for coming by my TT!

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  5. Great list and very useful, thanks! Happy TT Jen - now get out and get that massage, you deserve it after that party you threw!

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  6. Great list! I like the last one. Need to put that on my list next time we plan any party.

    My life is so bland that most parties we planned are kids' birthdays. How sad is that! We haven't had any adult type party since.. oh.. forever. :)

    -Amy @ The Q Family

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  7. Those aare all great tips. I also believe in splurging on reusable glassware, etc. It's nicer for guests and nicer to the environment.

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  8. Can you believe I've never thrown a large party in my home? Ever? My mom and dad did when I was little, and I kind of remember helping with details for my high school graduation a million years ago, but nothing since. I freak out over just having a friend or two visit, but I do plan ahead and enjoy it, and I love that it motivates me to really clean. Such a great list, and I bet your parties really do rock. If if have one, you are invited, and I'd totally ask for your help!

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  9. I would take your party advice but since we've moved out here, we've made no new friends.. alas no parites.. thanks for stopping by my page, happy TT!

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  10. Great tips. I love Ikea for simple party things too.

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  11. It always amazes me how little people eat at parties. But, you can't serve less food, just in case they do decide to eat more. Thanks for visiting mine.

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  12. Great list. It has been a while since I threw a big bash at the Manor, but planning is essential, and enjoying it a bonus!
    TM

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  13. Ah, #5 ... I always mean to do the confetti thing because I love it. But then, as you mention, the vacuum pops into my head and I skip it. One of these days, though, I'll be really brave and do it. Then I'll DESERVE that massage for a job well done! (Thanks for visiting my TT)

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  14. I'm sure there's a story behind the brow wax/spray-on tan advice...LOL

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  15. #13 is my favorite... but I don't need a party as an excuse!

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  16. Great ideas...BTW, I love your counter on the side regarding our dear president;) Happy TT and thanks for stopping by.

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  17. Thanx for stopping by Chester County Moms!

    Great Party Plannng Tips!
    My favorite was #13...


    Sarah
    Chesco Mom

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  18. Thanx for stopping by Chester County Moms!

    Great Party Plannng Tips!
    My favorite was #13...


    Sarah
    Chesco Mom

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  19. Those aare all great tips. I also believe in splurging on reusable glassware, etc. It's nicer for guests and nicer to the environment.

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  20. Great list! I like the last one. Need to put that on my list next time we plan any party.

    My life is so bland that most parties we planned are kids' birthdays. How sad is that! We haven't had any adult type party since.. oh.. forever. :)

    -Amy @ The Q Family

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great list and very useful, thanks! Happy TT Jen - now get out and get that massage, you deserve it after that party you threw!

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Hey, please don’t leave an anonymous comment.
Select “Name/URL” below and you can use whatever name you want. No registration required.
Thanks! –Jen

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