With a few small changes, the perfect party location may be right in front of you.
Determine party flow
Look over your invite list and consider how many children and how many adults will be attending your get together. Think about places they are likely to congregate (such as, anywhere you serve beverages) and places where you would not like them to go (for example, a basement playroom). In my experience, I’ve observed that most of the party activity will naturally happen in rooms that have at least two doors for entrance and exit. Dead end rooms, or rooms with a single entry way, will not usually attract your guests unless they are specifically directed there.
Dedicate a room well away from the party to be a temporary resting spot for anything that will detract from the overall feel and look of your event. This means any clutter, small kitchen appliances, tchotchkes, the stacks of paper that seem to collect around any house with children -- all of it needs to be cleared from the rooms you’ve determined will be used for the party. Sometimes we’re so blind to the detritus of everyday life we don’t see how it will appear to a party guest. The more refreshments you are serving, the happier you will be to have clear spaces for platters and drinks.
You will also use this room for temporary storage of anything fragile, valuable or delicate that shouldn’t be subjected to the enthusiasms of your guests. It’s better to take a few moments to remove these things now than spend time afterward regretting having left these types of things out during an event. Even the best behaved children can get a little wild at a fun party.
Clear a closet
If at all possible, a closet should be dedicated to your guests’ coats. Remove all family coats from this closet and put them in the room you’ve dedicated as a temporary resting spot. Then restock the closet with empty hangers so that there is a place for guests to place and later retrieve their belongings. Spending a little effort here leaves your party space clear and it is much more pleasant than having guests tossing their outerwear all over whatever chair, couch or bed seems the most reasonable to them.
If you are having games, you will need clear spaces to play. If you are hoping adults will gather into conversation groups, rearranging furniture to accommodate three or four adults here and there outside the activity area may be necessary. You’ll also want to have a room more open than usual to allow for easy flow during your event, so look with a critical eye and see what can be pushed against a wall, repurposed, or moved to another room during party time.
Borrow party elements
Whether borrowed from a friend or rented from a local spot, you will want to ensure there is adequate space for your guests to sit while they are enjoying refreshments. Even if you are keeping things simple by sticking to just cake and drinks, you’ll need to have enough tables and chairs for the children at your party. Young children may not mind sitting on the floor around a coffee table, but older children will likely want a more formal arrangement.
Pull together an emergency basket
It is kind to your guests to have emergency items quickly available. It also saves you as a host from racing upstairs in the middle of your event to hunt down a bandage. Stock an emergency basket for a powder room with bandages, safety pins, sunscreen, bug spray, a disposable ice pack, wipes, or anything else that seems sensible for the party you’re hosting but not likely to be in a parent’s bag.
Simple preparations ahead of time can help make your home an easy, affordable place to host your party. Considering the space from your guests’ points of view can help you make small changes to boost the fun and ease of your event.
Ask The Party Planner is a biweekly blog written by Laura Floyd, owner of Laura Floyd Events, LLC (www.LauraFloydEvents.com).