How I love a good time. We know how to party in my town. It is in the water maybe. Well, I know that it is in my blood. Hence this blog about festivities of any kind. Life is too short to cheat ourselves out of diversion. It is necessary to alleviate work tedium and family stress—whatever ails you in particular. I say, let’s stop a moment and celebrate. Don’t miss any opportunity to rejoice. It can be a holiday, a friend’s graduation or birthday, an anniversary or a commemoration of a milestone. These are the special times in life that we cherish.

Given these beliefs, you can be sure that I have parties all the time and many tips and tricks up my sleeve. I insist on great food that is interesting and tasty—not just the usual cheese and crackers fare. I actively look for new ideas. I also believe in plating the food on gorgeous, colorful trays. There must be fresh-cut flowers in the center of the table. If it is outside in the yard, I need to find the best portable speakers that are easy to move around so they do their job without getting in the way. Of course, they should be wireless of the Bluetooth kind. They come in a few finishes to match your yard. I like to decorate them if they are visible. When I found some that look like boulders, I was ecstatic. Now, that’s a cool look! But, they must have a quality sound and volume control.

Other party musts are a signature drink that everyone will love. If you have a bartender, you can get fancy. I love a kir, champagne and blackberry brandy. I also like making a giant bowl of punch with Seven-up or Ginger Ale and champagne. You can float raspberries and mint leaves on top. Make colorful ice in fancy shapes like stars. You just add juice to the ice tray.

Apart from food and drink, a party must have a purpose. Perhaps there will be gifts or games as in a bridal or baby shower. Theme parties are my specialty and I go all out to make everything match. I pick a color scheme and buy napkins, streamers, paper goods and assorted décor items. If it is a party for its own sake, games are still relevant, and you can go for the tried and true (charades and Pictionary) or the novel. Make up a guessing game. Attach a sheet of paper on the back of each guest and itemize personality traits. The guest will ask others to guess who he or she is. Of course, he will have to give hints. It is a great way for people to get to know each other.

While these are the basics, there is something that has been left out: music! Be sure to select what your guest will like and turn up the volume. Remember those outdoor wireless speakers? Here’s how they come in really handy.

Enjoying life for most people means what they do for recreation and fun. Passing time means more than work; it includes play and leisure activities. We all have our favorites. For some it is sewing and crafts, watching old movies, taking on a sport as a fan or participant, and, of course, parties and social occasions. I specialize in the latter. Throwing a good party is my forte. I try to make each one unique and individual. No theme is too much of a challenge.

I was asked to plan and execute a kid’s event for the child of a close friend and I jumped in with both feet. They are always firmly planted on the party ground. Speaking of jumping, I must reveal right out of the box that the focus of the festivities was a huge trampoline. No mini size for this bunch. They need something dramatic. It is like a bouncy house without the castle or spaceship exterior. This way the adults can see what is going on and root for the jumpers. My friend on Facebook knows that trampolines are hot; they are the latest thing for parties, replacing a pony, clown, or balloon maker. It is completely affordable and easy to do. There are rental companies that will explain their inventory and bring and install just the right size.

Budget was not really an object, but as mentioned, the actual center of attention is not out of sight. No rental service wants to price itself out of the market. So once the vendor was selected, I was off and running, planning the food, prizes, take-home goodie bags, and games. I found some “jumping beans” online and thought it would be amusing to put them in the bags. Around the yard posted visibly for the guests will be large signs saying: “jump for joy” and “jump in.” I will certainly have a recording of the song Jump on the speaker. What a coup! I must end with my basic party tips, whatever your theme. I got some of them from and the others are just my own ideas. It can be cowboys, astronauts, fairy princesses, a circus, toy land, or cars and trucks.

  • It is all about the theme decorations. Your nearest party story likely has a wide choice of favors, paper goods, and tablecloths to meet every need.
  • Make sure each child gets something to hold such as a hat, puzzle, piece of candy, or fun sunglasses.
  • Show the guests around so they easily find the food, drink, and games. In the case of the trampoline, it will be obvious.
  • Without being dictatorial, set some ground rules so the kids do not get rambunctious. If you don’t want them in your house, put a sign on the door. However, a bathroom must be readily available.
  • Give favors during the party and the take-home bags as they leave. Decorate them with ribbon in the party theme colors. Whatever the theme, you can put in stickers, miniature replicas, candy or other treat. It can be store-bought or homemade. The point is to make it fun.

Have you ever been to a party that was simply amazing? The guests mingled nicely, the conversation flowed, the food was perfect, and the mood was just right? You walk away thinking that every party should be that way, and trying to figure out what the secret was so that your own parties would be just as good.

Unfortunately, even the best of us don’t always throw perfect parties. We’ve got tips and tricks to make them go as well as they can, but so much is out of our control that, to some degree, it is a gamble. I’ve thrown a lot of parties in my day, and many of them were good. The guests were happy, the company enjoyed, the food eaten. Other times, I’ve had untouched food, long awkward silences, and people didn’t linger over coffee or dessert. So what made some of the fetes I’ve thrown go over well and others that went down like a lead balloon? Without a post-party autopsy, one can’t be entirely sure, but there are a few things I’ve noticed:

  1. You don’t necessarily need to have a theme for every party, but some commonality is good. For example, if you have a dinner party and invite your old college friends and your new work friends, there is a chance they might not talk and things potentially might not work out well. However, if you invite the same crowd over for the Superbowl, there will be something for everyone to talk about. If you’re getting together a gang that hasn’t seen each other in a long time, a quiet dinner might be just the thing so that everyone can see and chat with everyone else. If you have a theme, you make your own life easier. You know exactly what kinds of food to prepare, what decorations to get, and it will be fun finding the big and little ways to incorporate your theme.
  2. Planning ahead is critical. I can’t stress this one enough. When I say plan ahead, I mean, everything – from the supplies you’ll need to the ingredients required. If it’s a big event or there’s a lot to do, make a timeline or write it on a calendar so that you know what to do when. Also, now is not the time to make your 17 step dessert or homemade crepes. While they might be killer crowd pleasers, nobody likes a frazzled host or a host that has to spend the entire time in the kitchen slaving away and missing the fun. That brings me to my next point.
  3. Prep as much as possible beforehand. The whole point of hosting is because you want to spend time with your guests and to celebrate something, whether it be a good meal or a special occasion. If there is food you can make prior to the day of, do it. Measure out the ingredients of the stuff you can’t and have them ready so you can just mix and cook whenever possible. If you want music playing, assemble the playlist before the event so you can just set it to play and forget about it. If there is a big game or other televised event, you can even set your tv to turn on at a specific time or assign the job to one of your guests so that you don’t have to drop any other duties to do it. Also keep in mind that if you’re in the kitchen, guests will likely gather there too. Be prepared for this and have jobs for those who ask readily available. Maybe they can pour wine in the glasses you’ve set aside and distribute them. Or maybe they can carry out the snacks you assembled the night before. Your guests will feel like they’re helping and it will take some of the pressure off you.

Start with these three things and your next bash is bound to be a success!