3 outstanding reasons to throw a BIG pre-summer party this year!

1. “…I like large parties. Large parties are so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Miss Party loves this quote. The first time she read it, it took a few moments to realize the truth hiding amongst the paradoxical words. Miss Party, herself, has always preferred hosting larger cocktail-style parties rather than smaller dinner parties. Why is that anyway?

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Well, something about a 2-4 couple dinner party has always made Miss Party a bit more angsty than throwing a bash for 100. Sounds a little counterintuitive, yes, but she feels more pressure to personally perform miracles in the kitchen while everyone watches on than cooking a few days ahead at her leisure for the larger version (and catering the last-minute yummies). Catching up at length with any one individual at a dinner party seems a bit rude and who wants private matters discussed in front of others any more than they want to be left out of a conversation?

Large parties, on the other hand, they have a much different flow. Small groups, individual conversations are completely natural and customary. There is an unexpected privacy in a large gathering. Intimate conversation occurs between close friends and interesting conversation can develop amongst acquaintances (rather than group speak at the dinner table). Guests rotate and move around, catching up with lots of different individuals and are quite happy taking care of themselves if everything is planned well on their behalf. Miss Party finds the atmosphere congenial and relaxed and, with a few good hired hands in the kitchen doing the dirty work, she can also be congenial and relaxed. Here’s the other thing, you pretty much do the same amount of work for 10 as you do for 50, so why not go big? Miss Party says, “GO BIG!”

2. “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver, the other gold.” Girl Scouts song

Staying in touch with friends and acquaintances, both old and new, is a tough business the older and busier we get. We have friends of all sorts –some we are involved with regularly, others we see periodically or infrequently but still want to stay in touch with. No matter how good yours and their intentions may be, life gets crazy. It’s a never-ending whirlwind and suddenly months fly by. Spring is upon us and, in the blink of an eye, summer will have everyone heading off to vacation homes, traveling, visiting relatives or carting children every which way to day camps and summer jobs.

Summer PartyA pre-summer party is the perfect excuse to bring all those you care about together to catch up for an evening BEFORE everyone parts for the summer season. Throw all those people in your life on a guest list (many that likely know each other in other ways besides through you or your family) and see what happens. An outdoor summer evening cocktail-style party works well for adults who have daytime family obligations or an afternoon family party so children can be a part of the fun may be a better option for your family. Got a pool? Invite kids/adults to bring their swimsuits and towels.

3. “Many hands make light work.” Proverb author unknown

This is an old saying, but never more true than for a large gathering. Apply this saying in many ways when it comes to hosting a party. Here are a few of Miss Party’s favorites:

There is NOTHING like the motivation of a party date deadline to get ‘many hands’ working on projects in and around your home. You’ll have your place hopping when you think of all your friends who are going to see it in it’s current state of affairs (hire what you can and recruit the rest). It’ll be shiny as a new penny by party time, trust Miss Party. Give that party date to any contractor or other hired work as their deadline and watch them move mountains and walls to make your home spit spot by the time all those other potential customers come streaming in wanting to know who did that amazing work (or not). The same goes for the outside landscaping, whether it’s something you take care of or you hire out. Every home deserves a good turn every once in awhile and just think of all that might be completed and enjoyed long after the party is over.

In terms of how “many hands make light work” in prepping for a large party, if you invite 75 people for cocktails, you’ll probably get at least 35-40% of the “yes'” who will ask what they can bring. Your work in the kitchen certainly will be much lighter when you take them up on their offer. If you invite that same number over for drinks and apps (AND ask them to bring an hors d’oeuvre to share), you’ll never run out of food. You can refocus all your hosting energy on the other moving parts of a large party. As a side note, Miss Party definitely believes that the “many hands” saying applies in the kitchen during the party. Spending a little money on dedicated kitchen/waitstaff help is some of the best money you’ll spend on your party. As the hostess, you and your guests will be much happier if you’re hanging out with them having fun and not stuck in the kitchen.

Another way to think about how ‘many hands make light work,” is to co-host a large summer party with another friend or family. Throw the idea out there well in advance of dates you might have in mind to give your friend(s) time to consider the idea and get back to you. You can divide up the party responsibilities to make it manageable for all. This party co-hosting idea can work well if two guests of honor from two different families share something in common such as a graduation or birthdays.

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Print a copy of Miss Party’s Perfect Party Planner (pull down menu in header) to keep you on schedule. Don’t procrastinate, just go for it!!

5 Secrets to Planning the BEST EVER High School Graduation Party!

This is one of those milestone parties that is planned with excitement and anticipation, but also anxiety and exhaustion from everything else swirling around senior activities. No matter what everyone’s individual drama is, Miss Party encourages you to mark this happy occasion with a celebratory party. So, just how does one plan the ‘Best Ever’ High School Graduation Party? Well, read on…

A graduation party is pretty much an open house party (with an RSVP if you’re lucky), where it is expected and understood that guests will come and go. Many guests, teens and adults will attend multiple graduation parties or other events on a lovely weekend date in May or June. So, what are the secrets to getting a good turnout and, thereby, making this the BEST EVER Graduation Party? Miss Party’s super-secret secrets are…

Secret #1Plan for a staggered food and entertainment schedule AND giving invited guests a HINT at what is planned in the invitation. Do both to pique your guests’ curiosity before and while there. For example, in the invitation write: “Lunch will be served and an ‘iSCREAM! Dreams Sundae Buffet’ begins at 2 o’clock”; or, for entertainment, “Check out the Band on YouTube”; or, “Dunk your favorite Grad at 3 o’clock”. Whatever you and your teen thinks will draw in his/her friends to attend the party. Family members are not nearly so hard to please, it’s the teen’s peers that are the tough nuts to crack, just getting them there is half the battle when there are so many other parties and fun things going on at the same time.

Here is a very general, staggered schedule for a 4 hour party:

Party starts:
-Party begins with Lunch or Dinner buffet (keep available for 1 1/2 hours to cover guests arriving late)
-Have open-ended lawn games or amusements available from the start, such as Badminton, horseshoes, Ladder Ball Toss, Frisbee toss or swimming
-Begin a new entertainment 1 hour into the party

Halfway through:
-Pull lunch and put out grazing-type foods, refresh bar, set out party favors (many first arrival guests will now need to leave)
-Dessert buffet (set out desserts 1 1/2-2 hours into the party so that first arrival guests will be able to partake before leaving)
-Begin a new entertainment or amusement midway into the party (which may keep some guests at the party longer)

Party ending:
-Let party wind down over the last hour with dessert, general lawn games and socializing

Suggestions for teen-pleasing stations, activities or entertainment:

Lunch or Dinner Buffet
Salad Bar
Salsa Station (See ‘Spotlight Tasting’ post for ideas on how to put one together)
Candy Buffet (for 1 of 3 posts on setting up a colorful candy buffet table)
Ice Cream Sundae Buffet
Dessert Buffet
Photo Booth
Swimming, Basketball, Volleyball
Badminton, Ping Pong, Ladder Ball Toss, Horseshoes, Frisbees, hula hoops
Water games like Water Balloon Toss
an ‘old-school’ activity like a Piñata
Dunk Tank (Dunk the Grad)
Inflatable Bouncy House, Moon Walk, obstacle course or other large Inflatable (speak with a couple of rental companies for other ideas that are popular for teens)
Live Band or DJ with a stage and wood dance floor
Face Painting Makeup Artist
Fortune Teller or Palm Reader
Caricaturist
“BLING Your Beverage!” Station
Yearbook Signing Table (have Grad tell teen guests to bring their yearbooks for signing)

Secret #2– Be organized! Start a ‘Grad Party’ file folder. Print out a good Party Planner Checklist and use it, get a calendar and use it. Pencil an outline schedule for food, dessert, amusements, entertainment, and a list of activities offered all afternoon (such as swimming or a lawn game) that your teen and his/her friends would enjoy; put it in the folder. Start collecting catering menus and recipes to consider; put them in the folder. Get referrals for tents or party rentals you’ll need; print pictures from party planning websites that have the look you want; put together an “inspiration board” to keep you focused –put it all in your folder. Be organized so you can pull out what you need, when you need it.

Secret #3 – Grab a party date and time very early in the game and send ‘save the date’ emails AND have your teen do a Facebook invite to get on the teens’ theoretical calendars. When to start your party may already depend on parties you know are slated on that day. At the least, try your best not to conflict with the parties of your Grad’s best buddies, there’s no bigger downer for your senior or his/her friends. Sending a quick note to ‘key’ guests is a good idea. Send invites 3-3 1/2 weeks ahead for this party.

Secret #4 – Reserve early! DO NOT WAIT! Once you have a party outline, call to reserve an entertainer or that Princess Bouncy House your Grad knows her friends will want to move into. If outside, you may need to rent a tent, stage, dance floor, tables, chairs, etc. If so, get in line for an on-site estimate. You can’t even imagine how busy party rental businesses are April through June. It will take a couple of weeks to get the estimate, proposal and finally sign a rental contract.

Secret #5 – The secret here is in doing something about the situation ASAP (AS SOON AS POSSIBLE). If the grad party will take place in your backyard or, if rain, inside your home, look at all your spaces objectively with a critical eye. Is there landscaping or exterior house maintenance you’ve been putting off? Dirty windows? A broken fence that needs repair? Line up ALL the people needed to take care of jobs like landscaping, spring clean-up, deck cleaning/power washing, house painting, repairing, or window-washing, as necessary. The same goes for interior projects. Do public rooms need repainting, repairing, updating? In the spring, all maintenance-types of businesses are slammed with outside work, it could take weeks just to get them to your house and still have time to do the work you need done. DO NOT WAIT! You’ll be the one doing the job yourself or going without.

Find yourself a yellow pad, make a cup of coffee or tea and find a comfortable seat. Pick a party theme that you and your Grad can fall in love with – it will help sooo much in keeping you on track when there are too many choices. Keep going…have your teen help make a guest list of teens, important adults and family members so you have a ballpark total to work from. Stay organized! Yes, it’s a lot to think about, but you can do this. Your teen will love you for it (they might even tell you so)!

Check out these awesome teen party themes that are or could be easily adapted for a grad party, here on MISSPARTY.net: On Cloud Nine!, Part 1; Their Future’s Bright!; Reach for the Sky!; Keep Calm and Carry On!; iSCREAM Dreams!; Mad Tea Party. Also look through all of Miss Party’s DIY section for party decor projects you see in the posts for those themes.

One more thing! Don’t forget about yourself amongst all this craziness! Senior Mama needs to look and feel great on the day of the best ever grad party. Look at Miss Party’s Party Ensemble Planner so you’ll have all your ducks in a row on party day!

‘MAD MEN’-inspired 60s Theme Party – The final season to indulge!

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If you’re a ‘MAD MEN’ devotee and have secretly wanted to throw a 60s themed party (not of the hippee variety) but never got around to it all these years the show has been rocking it –now is the perfect time to do it! It’s the final season of ‘MAD MEN’ and there’s no time […]

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch – Fruity and delicious!

Don Draper would have appreciated this delicious whiskey-based punch recipe taken from a 1961 advertisement for Canadian Clubhouse Whisky. Your guests certainly will! Yield: About 2 quarts (which is approximately 12 punch glass-sized servings). The vintage atomic-shaped punch bowl pictured holds 4 quarts of liquid, so Miss Party doubled the recipe to have 1 quart […]

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DIY Guest of Honor Memory Board – A quick and easy way to display pictures!

Bright and beautiful graduation party

Lots of parties honor a particular guest –grad parties, birthday parties, engagement and baby showers or retirement parties. A ‘through-the-years’ homage to the guest of honor is always a nice and thoughtful touch. If you have access to lots of good pictures showcasing the guest of honor, make a low-tech, montage memory board and/or table […]

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DIY to Living a Beautiful Life – Could it really be that simple?

Cafe in Paris

A DIY to living a beautiful life? Sounds cute, but can there really be something as simple as a DIY tutorial to teach someone how to live a beautiful life? Well, in a nutshell, that’s pretty much what I’m proposing. Years and years ago, I made it a priority to live a beautiful life in […]

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Miss Party’s misadventures in entertaining overnight guests – Part 5, Decorating

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Thought those of you who’ve followed this thread of posts on updating Miss Party’s guest room, might like a peek into the room to see how it’s starting to shape up. Miss Party’s younger daughter is home from college for spring break week so this corner is about the only spot in the room fit […]

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Miss Party’s misadventures in entertaining overnight guests! – Part 4, Still Updating/Decorating

Summer Party

Woohoo! Miss Party survived the wood floor refinishing week! It was darn stinky but she hunkered down in a few rooms at the other end of the house and survived it. Thank goodness it’s finally over and done with. That crazy, last-minute decision stopped everything in it’s tracks for close to 3 weeks (the waiting […]

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Delicious Cake – A cake that lives up to it’s name!

Old-fashioned Peonies in Springtime

This cake is so delicious, it’s called Delicious Cake!! Miss Party’s Grandma, Great Grandma, and Great, Great Grandma were amazing country cooks. They often used this rustic cake recipe for family gatherings over the last 100 years. The cake recipe was requested for family birthdays, dressed up as Coconut Cake at Easter, and later in […]

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Miss Party’s misadventures in entertaining overnight visitors! Part 3 – Updating/Redecorating

Path to Mill Brook, Medfield, MA

Here’s this week’s latest ‘going’s on’ with the updating and redecorating of Miss Party’s guest suite. As you’ll see there’s been quite a bit of buying going on this week. Some things work out, lots of others don’t. Such is the way of these sorts of projects. The floors are scheduled to be refinished at […]

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