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Planning An Event
How to get started with ANY event
The first step is figuring out the nitty gritty: where, when, who, why, what! Jot down answers to the questions below and you'll have a party plan in no time.
inflatable rentals, wv What date and time do you want to have your party?
  When choosing a date, check your personal calendar as well as the calendars of any fellow planners and guest(s) of honor. You'll also want to discover if any special events occur on that day. A major religious holiday or a hometown game might mean fewer guests could attend your event. Plan accordingly.
inflatable rentals, wv How many guests do you wish to invite?
  The number of guests affects every other detail of your event, from the location to the amount of food. Do a first draft of your guest list by putting names on paper, this will help you get a more accurate count and help your planning.
inflatable rentals, wv Where do you want to have your party?
  If the venue is not in your home, then brainstorm some different possibilities
(e.g., recreation centers, hotel ballrooms, restaurants, or whatever is appropriate).
inflatable rentals, wv How many people fit in the venue?
  Whether the venue is available on your preferred day? How much it costs to rent the space? What's included in the rental and what other services are available?
  Costs can be complicated!
  Ask the venue's contact person to give you all possible charges (e.g., some places might have separate fees for room rental, security, maintenance, insurance). Find out what services the venue offers, such as catering or decorating. Many venues insist that you use their catering services and won't let you bring in food from outside. You'll also want to consider how accessible the venue is to your guests, so inquire about parking and public transportation near the site.
inflatable rentals, wv What's the purpose of your event?
  How will you express it? This is the really fun part: you get to shape the style and spirit of your event. It's easiest to start with a theme, which will help you decide everything from décor to food to the style of your invitations. The best theme ideas come from some special interest of the planner or guest(s) of honor. Once you've identified a few possible themes, brainstorm all the different ways you can carry out the idea: decorations, tableware, favors, music. Which one sounds the easiest? The most fun?
inflatable rentals, wv What's going to happen? Dancing? Speeches? Presentations?
  Two to four hours is adequate for most events. If a meal is involved, especially a sit-down dinner, four to five hours is plenty (if most of your guests are under 10 years old, two hours may be perfect). Write out a schedule for the hours of the event.
Some guidelines:
inflatable rentals, wv Provide time for mingling before and after directed activities, but especially after since people will have even more to talk about.
inflatable rentals, wv Don't let guests go hungry! Feed them sooner rather than later.
inflatable rentals, wv Unless the purpose of the gathering is centered around speeches (such as a press conference, business meeting, or dinner honoring a VIP), keep speeches and presentations short (20 minutes, though it sounds short, is PLENTY of time to fuss over the guest of honor!).


You now have A LOT of information about your event. The next step is to review each issue in light of the others (for example, if none of your venues are available on your date, you may need to change your date or call some other places) and start looking at it with regard to your budget.

Now you're ready to delve deeper into the details, revise your budget and finalize your plans. This is a good point to involve a friend or partner, running your ideas and figures by another person will help you sort them out.

You will probably come up with many questions about costs. Get on the phone to gather estimates for food, drink, music (live or DJ), decorations, flowers, favors, printed invitations, limo service, photography, videography, entertainment, and any special equipment (e.g., if you're showing a slideshow, you'll need to rent the projector and screen). You'll want estimates from two or three vendors for each type of item so you can comparison shop; also, talking to more people gives you more ideas!

Once you've selected your venue and vendors and fit them into your budget, start scheduling. Arrange everything as far in advance as possible. Enlist help! Write out a schedule for yourself for the day of the event (e.g., what time is the photographer arriving, what time will the caterers be on the scene) and share it with anyone who is helping with the party arrangements.

As the pieces fall into place, you'll spend less time making decisions and more time tracking details and following up with vendors. Keep your calendar or notebook handy and keep writing everything down in one place, your notes will be an invaluable resource at every stage of your planning.

Choosing a Theme

Want to throw a party to remember? Choose a theme! Transform your home and let your guests delight you with their surprising costumes and novel ideas on how best to celebrate it. Whether it's completely off the wall, or a classic toga party, centering your event around a theme is great fun.

You might be thinking "Sounds good, but I don't know what to choose." Almost anything can be turned into a theme. Themes can be foods or eras, people or places. So just decide on something, like chocolate, and then get creative. Choose something offbeat (e.g., Wild West meets Austin Powers) to entice your guests into being creative. When the results are the least predictable, they're often the most interesting.

Retro themes are popular. Choosing a time period toward the earlier part of the 20th century or before will set your event apart from the more common 60's, 70's and 80's retro parties. Another way to find a theme is to center your event around a movie, television show, or character. For instance you might have a Star Wars theme party, or Shaft theme party.

Once you've thought of a theme, it's time to brainstorm. How can the theme be applied? Is there a food associated with it? How can you decorate the event location in the spirit of the theme? What music goes along with the theme? Should people dress in costume? What sort of invitations will introduce the theme to your guests?

One of the best aspects of throwing a theme-based party is the creative process - thinking of all the ways you can express the main idea. Give your imagination free reign!

Easy Elegance
Inexpensive, easy ideas to help you add an extra touch of style to your setting. Want to add a little elegance? Try including some of the following:
inflatable rentals, wv Fresh Flowers -
  Even a few dollars worth of flowers will bring style and freshness to your setting. If you have little to spend, avoid the pricey stems and look for bunches. Go for quantity over variety: a hearty bunch of white daisies has more impact and energy than a few roses!
inflatable rentals, wv Candle Collection -
  Candles have come into vogue, which means they are easy to find and they come in colors and scents to suit any taste. Place several together to make a striking arrangement. Avoid heavily scented candles around food; place them in a bathroom or sitting area instead. Always use appropriate caution: seat them in a suitable holder, place them where they won't be easily knocked over and make sure they aren't left unattended.
inflatable rentals, wv Beautiful Bathroom -
  Make your bathroom sparkling clean. Put out fresh towels and include some nice touches: add a candle (see above), a small vase of fresh flowers, a fancy magazine or catalog, or even a toy (place two plastic dinosaurs face to face on a ledge).
inflatable rentals, wv Nice Napkins -
  Save the paper napkins for another time and get a hold of some fun napkin rings and cloth napkins to spruce up the dinner or buffet table. Provide a basket for guests to place used napkins in; this is nicer than you collecting them and toting them off to the laundry room!
inflatable rentals, wv Collapsible Coat-rack -
  If you don't have enough space in your coat closet, set up a coat rack in an extra room and hang up everyone's coat. It's a nice change from piling coats on beds or chairs, and makes it easier for guests to collect their belongings when leaving.
Planning Ahead

A timetable will help you have more fun, less stress. Everyone procrastinates! But waiting until the last minute may make your event a hassle instead of an enjoyable experience. To make the process easier, develop a timetable and avoid a lot of stress.

To help you out, we've provided an example timetable. Keep in mind that depending on when your event takes place, its size and type, your timetable will be different.

Here's a typical timetable for any small to medium-sized event:

inflatable rentals, wv 2 to 4 weeks before:
inflatable rentals, wv Mail invitations
inflatable rentals, wv Reserve any necessary equipment
inflatable rentals, wv 1 to 2 weeks before:
inflatable rentals, wv Plan the meal or refreshments
inflatable rentals, wv Purchase beverages and supplies
inflatable rentals, wv 3 to 5 days before:
inflatable rentals, wv Choose attire, or assemble your costume :
inflatable rentals, wv Obtain rented or borrowed equipment
inflatable rentals, wv Make a shopping list
inflatable rentals, wv 3 days before:
inflatable rentals, wv Clean the house
inflatable rentals, wv Prepare make-ahead food
inflatable rentals, wv 1 to 3 days before: :
inflatable rentals, wv Set up the beverage area
inflatable rentals, wv Select music
inflatable rentals, wv Decorate
inflatable rentals, wv Create a final checklist
inflatable rentals, wv Day of event:
inflatable rentals, wv Go over checklist
inflatable rentals, wv Set the table
inflatable rentals, wv Have everything ready well before guests arrive
The Final Countdown
20 minutes to go before the first guests arrives. Ready?
The food is almost ready to go and your first guest should arrive in about 20 minutes. We're assuming you're dressed and that the house is pretty much clean (if you've done all that and have 20 minutes on your hands, well done! You're ahead of most!). Now, the real test! Have you:
inflatable rentals, wv Figured out where coats will go (preferably an area or room you don't mind guests walking into without you).
inflatable rentals, wv Cleaned the bathroom (including fresh towels and an ample supply of toilet paper and soap).
inflatable rentals, wv Cleared the main passageways and traffic areas so that people have enough room to mingle and/or move from one area to another.
inflatable rentals, wv Tidied up the kitchen. People always congregate in the kitchen. If there's anything in there you don't want them to see, get rid of it now!
inflatable rentals, wv Put on some pleasant music.
inflatable rentals, wv Freshened up the air. If cooking smells are a delight, let them linger. But if there's a pet or food odor floating around, give a spritz of the air freshener and open a window.
inflatable rentals, wv Thought of what you'll tell people to do when they come in. The first few guests usually are at loose ends until more people arrive. Give them some direction by putting them to work (if they offer to help) or inviting them to talk with you in the kitchen or sitting room.
inflatable rentals, wv Provided something for kids to do. If kids are coming to your event (and assuming they aren't the focus of the event), they and their parents will love you for providing some amusement (a game, coloring books, a room where they can watch a video). After all, other people's toys are always more fun!
Putting Guests at Ease
Guiding Principle: guests feel most comfortable when:
inflatable rentals, wv Their basic needs for food, liquid and comfort are met;
inflatable rentals, wv They are secure in their surroundings (e.g., know where the exits and resources are) and;
inflatable rentals, wv They feel integrated with (or at least unthreatened by) the group.
inflatable rentals, wv So given this, do the following:
Welcome folks warmly, even if your head is spinning with details and last-minute preparations.
inflatable rentals, wv Make sure you have enough food and that people can reach it.
inflatable rentals, wv Keep an eye on the room temperature. Be ready to open a window or crank up the heat/AC.
inflatable rentals, wv You know the drill: when introducing folks, say each person's name clearly and share a little fact about each one, such as "Sam, Lucy has just returned from a trip to Borneo and shares your interest in windsurfing," so they have something to talk about right away.
inflatable rentals, wv Keep the bathroom clean and well stocked.
inflatable rentals, wv Before the event, scan the newspaper or scoot around the Internet to gather conversation fodder. Unless the get-together is a networking event, many people will enjoy discussing things other than the usual "What do you do? How's work? How's the family?" etc. Teens, especially, will appreciate NOT being drilled on their interests and school experiences. Small children, on the other hand, will happily list their age, favorite cartoon characters, friends' names, etc.
inflatable rentals, wv Don't force reticent guests to pose in pictures or do an activity if they say "No" more than once.
inflatable rentals, wv Give a guest who is alone or looks lost something to do, such as bringing out new platters of food, or pouring champagne for a toast. Start a conversation. When the task is complete, help this person join a group by saying "Max and I have just been discussing the new album by B.B.King. Lucy, you're a fan, aren't you?" Once Max has been integrated into the conversation, feel free to duck out with a quick "Excuse me, I'll be right back."
Have fun. If you're relaxed, your guests will be too!
Saving Sticky Situations
What to do when something goes wrong. Even the best-laid plans may go awry. Your best defense for unexpected troubles: Knowledge! Read on, and equip yourself with this good advice on how to handle the most common event-throwing woes.
inflatable rentals, wv Food turns out bad.
This may mean the food doesn't show up, or it showed up cold, unsavory, etc., or the recipe you prepared turned out to be a dud. As tummies will not stop rumbling on account of your apology, a quick solution is needed here. Order out! Although it might not be the most exquisite of meals, it will fill bellies, and quickly. And remember that a delectable dessert will salvage any failed meal.
inflatable rentals, wv Someone gets injured.
It's always wise to have a first aid kit around (and an ice pack in the cooler or freezer) for any party or gathering. If one of your guests gets injured, don't panic. Do your best to attend to the guest, and administer first aid for minor injuries. But recognize when a guest needs immediate medical attention. Call an ambulance or get someone who hasn't been drinking (always have a few of these people around) to drive the injured guest to a hospital. Have relevant telephone numbers (e.g., poison control, fire and ambulance, local police) and directions to the nearest hospital prepared beforehand, and tack them up somewhere where they're easy to find.
inflatable rentals, wv Guests become rowdy.
There's a fine line between everyone having a good time and everyone getting out of control. Try to defuse your guests' energy before they reach the out-of-control stage. Staving off rowdiness:
inflatable rentals, wv Plan activities and games for your event in order to focus the group and keep everyone together.
inflatable rentals, wv If you're serving alcohol, keep an eye on guests' alcohol consumption and be prepared to stop serving guests who become drunk.
inflatable rentals, wv Only invite people you trust.
inflatable rentals, wv Getting your party back under control:
inflatable rentals, wv Turn down loud music. Change music to something more soothing.
  If lights are low, turn them up.
inflatable rentals, wv Try to keep all of your guests in sight. Enlist a calm friend to help corral guests into one room if they have wandered from the center of activity.
inflatable rentals, wv If you're getting upset, turn off music and make an announcement or ask people to leave.
inflatable rentals, wv If you're way in over your head, call the police!
inflatable rentals, wv Guests quarrel.
This is a tough one! It requires you to confront your guests and re-route their behavior. In each case, face them squarely, stand up straight, look them in the eyes, and speak in low, friendly but firm tones. Have a trusted friend at your side. Stay in control of your own emotions, and keep thinking "friendly but firm." Don't get sucked into hearing sides or playing judge, just work to get your party back on track!
inflatable rentals, wv Diffuse and Distract: The first step is to try and diffuse tension with a lighthearted, gentle remark that redirects their attention, such as, "Come and join me in the living room and help me polish off the crab dip." If you can separate the combatants and give them a new task (e.g., ask one to help you in the kitchen; have a friend lead the other into the living room), all the better!
inflatable rentals, wv Remind and Request: If guests don't take the hint and continue antagonizing one another, make a request that reminds them of how their behavior is affecting others (without belittling their conflict): "I know this is important to you, but it's upsetting me and putting a damper on things. Could you please stop?"
inflatable rentals, wv Evict/Enlist Help: The next step is to ask them to leave. "I'm sorry, but I must ask you to leave." If you suspect that guests will throw punches or act in some other violent manner, call the police immediately.
inflatable rentals, wv Something breaks.
inflatable rentals, wv Once something breaks, it's broken, and ranting and raving will not fix it. If nothing can be done, forget about it, enjoy the rest of the party, and leave your worrying for the morning. Try to remember that guests do not plan for these things to happen, and they would undo them if they could, and that they feel guilty. As a precaution, lock away anything fragile or valuable in areas where guests will not be, and get insurance for items of great value. Save discussions about replacement or reimbursement (if appropriate) until the next day.
inflatable rentals, wv Something spills.
inflatable rentals, wv

Have several types of stain lifter on hand: one for carpets and furniture, and a couple for different types of stains on clothing.

inflatable rentals, wv f the stain is on your property, try not to get upset. Your guest didn't mean to spill his or her drink. Clean up the worst of it and leave the heavy scrubbing for later. There's no reason to stop having a good time when you can take care of it later.
inflatable rentals, wv If the stain is on someone's clothing, grab the appropriate stain remover and apply. You may wish to offer guests a clean robe or other garment they can change into if it's a big stain more easily removed with the garment off


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