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Evolution Of A Party Girl

Evolution of A Party Girl

Party Planning has always been in my blood; here are the lessons I’ve learned…

My first foray into the social scene was elementary school. As early as the age of five, I was planning parties. This took the form of helping other little girls select their birthday party themes and planning daily luncheons. I was always inviting friends home for lunch, much to my Mother’s chagrin and surprise! Yes, I am old enough to have gone to school when you actually went home for lunch. We would combine and share our lunch and treats or on the way back to school we would to stop along the way and grab dessert at friends’ houses (we’d stop anywhere for a hostess cupcake or Twinkie). This was how I honed my potluck and progressive party planning skills! In addition, I learned the importance of favors. The best ones usually were the sign of a great party and would get talked about in school for days!

Lessons:
•    When you can’t do it alone, do it together – the party must go on!
•    Favors make your guests feel special and show you care. They are a keepsake from time shared together.

Junior High opened a whole new world and new opportunities to plan parties. Dances, the first boy/girl mixers and the beloved sleepover! These types of gatherings were where I learned the importance of music and a good theme. They seemed to unify the group and set the mood for the party. When it was done right, partygoers had a great time, when it was done wrong everyone left. Preteens are not polite guests and their feedback is given freely and honestly. This sharpened my skills for these party elements quickly.

Lessons:
•    When picking a theme take into consideration your audience (all of your guests).
•    Take time to plan music for your party, it has incredible power to relax, excite, inspire and transport people to another place mentally.

High School was an excellent training ground for home parties. We had them every weekend! This was great practice for learning to be a good hostess (even if it wasn’t your house). Making sure everyone was happy and had a drink was the job of the high school hostess. At these parties there was no sit down dinner or hors d’oeuvres being passed and the focus was on conversation. We talked for hours and played games, albeit ones that involved a quarter but they were games. High school also provided the first chance to witness and help plan a major event – the Prom.

Lessons:
•    A hostess should make sure that she is present at her own party and spends time talking with each guest. A hostess sets the tone for the party.
•    Activities are great icebreakers for guests that don’t know each other and are a catalyst for conversation and fun.
•    Most women love to get dressed up for parties and most men don’t.

College was a whole new animal in terms of house parties. Going to a large university, parties could mean 100s of students that didn’t know each other and these parties always involved alcohol. This type of party meant there needed to be security, a first for me. Yes the idea of a bouncer, the “guardian” of the evening, who decided who got in and who didn’t and later in the night who needed to leave. These people were crucial to the success of the party and the safety of the guests. They maintained order and kept the party fun for everyone.

Lesson:
•    You need to be the security monitor at your own party, never let a guest drive after drinking.

My Wedding deserves a post of its own, but to be brief this was my first opportunity for planning a large-scale event (240 people). It was this experience that taught me you must be organized and plan ahead. There is so much to consider and coordinate with a large event: invitations, menu, bar, cocktails, headcount, seating charts, entertainment, centerpieces, transportation, etc… Every element needed attention and each had to work in harmony with the others.

Lessons:
•    Only get married once!  Seriously, this is where I learned firsthand that every element of your party should be coordinated and work together to create the desired vibe.
•    Address all the senses of a guest, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch — this has a big impact.
•    You must host a party to address not impress your guests. Host a party from your heart. Beware weddings can create an environment where brides lose sight of this.

Married life was the party train! Dinner Parties, New Years Eve Celebrations, Super bowl Bashes, Fourth of July BBQ’s, Tailgates, Cocktail Parties, you name it, I hosted it and loved entertaining. I finally had a kitchen of my own and a dining table with chairs for friends to sit at — life was grand!

Lessons:
•    Entertaining at home is a joyful experience and the most intimate way to share time with family and friends.
•    A party is a gift you give your guests.

Family Life brought the party train to a screeching halt — the party was over! Too tired to entertain friends for dinner, too many plastic toys scattered around the house to have company over and no baby sitter. This could not be it for me, I had to make a party and with the lovely ladies in my neighborhood we turned play dates into parties. Spreads would be put out for the kids and also for the moms, fresh baked banana bread, homemade lemonade, tea sandwiches and delicious salads. Let me tell you Martha would be proud of these play dates and this was the best type of training for hosting family parties (the ones that include adults and children). The kids had fun and so did we!

Lesson:
•    Make sure to plan a party within a party when hosting families. Providing kids with their own drinks, food and activities is the best way to make sure the adult guests enjoy themselves.

Life now brings on new challenges for entertaining. The kids are getting older. It’s easier to entertain but harder to find the time, as the kids’ social lives take over ours. I will always love to host parties and go to parties; they still excite me as much as they did when I was a kid. With time being scarce, holidays have now become cherished opportunities to entertain family and friends in a special way. The impromptu party is also my new mantra! Invite friends over when the opportunity presents itself. There is nothing like planning ahead but if life doesn’t allow for it, then just get some good wine, some great cheese and sit together for a few hours. As I begin a new phase in my life, I know for sure that the most important element of the party is the people. Looking back on the evolution of this party girl my favorite memories are rarely the meal that I ate or the centerpiece that was on the table, instead they are the smiles, laughs and time I shared with those I love (the others only enhance the experience).

Lesson:
•    Entertain and spend time with those you love at all costs, it weaves your life together with theirs!

Author: Dawn Sandomeno — Please visit her incredible blog!! http://www.partybluprintsblog.com/

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