Let’s say the holiday spirit has hit you later than usual, and you’re thinking: Hey, let’s have a party. Here are tips to help you produce a fantastico groovy holiday get-together in a short period of time.
Q. What’s the best way to invite guests in a time crunch (only 1 or 2 weeks of planning time)?
A. A combination of email and word of mouth. Send an email first, then follow up with a phone call if the size of your guest list allows. You don’t need to make explanations or detail your time crunch, either.
Simply let guests know you are throwing a fabulous little holiday soiree, and their presence will make it that much more wonderful. This added personal touch, particularly in an increasingly arms-reach society, will add a warm, welcome note to your invitation and increase the likelihood of acceptance on short notice.
Since parties are plentiful during the holidays, highlight one or two characteristics that make your party unique or somehow different from other festivities, whether it’s the fact that other attendees will round out a group that is never able to meet up, or you’ll be featuring an offbeat theme or item, like December in the islands or Christmas cuisine from around the world.
Q. What should you have on hand to make guests feel comfortable and welcome?
A. If your party is intimate, say, 20 people or fewer, consider featuring cuisine, beverages or a style of music that you know will be incredibly popular among the majority of the group.
This move is akin to a monogram; a bit of personalization you offer guests to communicate that you considered them and what they enjoy. Let’s say it’s a group of ex-Philadelphians getting together in Los Angeles: Letting them know that cheese steaks, Tasty Cakes and Yuengling lager are on the menu is like dangling catnip in front a cat’s nose. PS. And you can get most of these at Philly’s Best.
Side note: Party essentials: Handling Your Hellos and Goodbyes.
In the end, no matter how the invitations are extended, what you serve or how beautifully you decorate the room—your guests will remember the total experience. Chiefly, how they felt.
So start the experience off on the right note by greeting each one personally, inviting them into the fold with a drink or food item. At the end of the evening, see your guests to the door personally, if possible, and thank them sincerely for attending.
A warm spirit of welcome and belonging will linger in a guest’s mind much longer than their memory of the decorations, or what brand of liquor they drank.
Junior Party Planners Might Like to Be In on the Action…
Q. If you’ve taken on too much, or are running out of time, what is the best way to ask for help and who should you ask?
A. Brainstorm to come up with two or three seriously close friends or family who you’re almost positive have the time and complete interest in lending a hand. It can even be a child who you know would jump at the chance to be part of something cool and grownup like party planning. Contact each person individually, keep tasks small, and tailor each request to a person’s interest or passions.
You may loathe lighting and decoration duty, but have a friend who is super creative and has an eye for such things. Offer a prospective party helper a choice of tasks, and let him or her choose their favorite. This move will increase compliance and follow-through.
Oh, and make it beyond easy for them to say “No” or even “Hell no!”
Think of a creative way to thank those who have helped out, whether it’s a small gift or an outing to their favorite spot for brunch or a night of cocktails and catching up. During the party, make sure you give ample props to helpers by public acknowledging their contributions. Channel any compliments back to those who had a hand in creating the item, whether it was the awesome music playlist, authentic paella or some other aspect of the awesomeness that was your last-minute holiday party.