It is May and the sun is finally shining here in northern NJ. It also means that I have parties on the brain. This month we celebrate birthdays for my nephew, my son, my sister-in-law, and myself along with Mother’s Day and Memorial Day immediately followed by birthdays for my other nephew and brother-in-law in early June. This year we have the added bonus of celebrating my husband’s graduation.
Just typing it all out makes me tired.
This is why I like to call May “Hell Month” and why I can think of nothing but all the parties we have planned. Thankfully, I LOVE throwing parties (although May is a bit excessive, even for me) but I understand that lots of people don’t. The only reason I love throwing parties is because I try my very hardest to organize celebrations that allow me time to mingle and talk to my guests. If I’m frazzled and overwhelmed I’ll be too busy running around to enjoy the company so I plan my events accordingly. I wanted to take a few moments before my life completely spirals out of control and give you a few tips on throwing parties you can actually enjoy.
1: Start Planning Early
Before you laugh at me, hear me out. I don’t mean that you should start drawing up complicated seating charts or mapping out your 12-course meal six months ahead of time. What you can do is browse Pinterest to choose a theme (if there is one) and come up with a rough draft of the invitees. This will give you a reasonable number to keep in mind later on when you’re trying to come up with a menu or planning some elaborate goodie bags. You want to keep in mind how many people will be coming before you make up your mind to do something that’s outrageously complicated.
2: Be Selective with Your Guest List
If you don’t feel up to throwing a party for all of your kid’s classmates and their fourth cousins twice removed you DO NOT have to. Take this as my permission to say “no” and keep the party manageable for you. You’re the one putting all the time and effort into the party, make sure you don’t get in over your head and you can still enjoy yourself.
3: Determine Your Focus
For example, I LOVE decorations, I would rather spend all my time and energy concocting adorable centerpieces than slaving over six different kinds of crudité. If menu planning makes you break into a cold sweat, don’t feel guilty about keeping it simple. If streamers are as far as you can go to making the place look festive, that’s fine too. Remember, at the end of the day no one cares but you.
4: Let People Help
Once the big day rolls around and people start showing up you might be running a little bit behind and your guests will ask you “Is there anything I can do to help?” The answer to that question should always be “YES”. Put them to work carrying out trays, doing dishes, holding the baby or taking pictures. It doesn’t make you a bad host, it makes them a good friend. There is no shame in receiving help from others and allowing your friends to be of service on the big day because…
5: It’s About Love and Community, NOT Perfection
I know there’s a lot of pressure to throw the perfect party but you won’t be getting any grief from me. Try to remember what the big picture is: we are gathered together to celebrate someone’s special day. When you look back on this day you won’t remember what was on the menu or that the streamers didn’t hang perfectly straight. You’ll look at the faded photographs (or the digital files you never got around to printing) and remember how excited they were to see their grandparents, the way they got frosting on their little nose, and how you stayed up way too late sitting by the fire, chatting with your favorite people.
So don’t sweat the small stuff and go ahead and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to run yourself ragged to make beautiful memories.