Photo by John Cain Photography
Whether you’re hosting an afternoon shower for a special occasion or just a summer supper for family and friends, Lolli and Me has you covered with some general planning tips to create exceptional memories for your guests:
1 MONTH OUT:
- Curate your guest list and gather guests’ email and mailing addresses.
- Set a date! Then, have people save it.
- If you have co-hostesses involved, then this is also the time to delegate respective tasks (These could handling invites, taking RSVPs, organizing the hostess gift, coordinating with a caterer, floral arrangements, ordering petit fours or a cake, accounting of costs, party favors, etc.).
- Follow up with an invitation. You may send an electronic e-vite (We prefer Paperless Post in that realm!), or order custom paper invitations, depending on the feel of your event. Remember, this sets the tone! Don’t forget to include a line about attire on the invitation to provide guests with an expectation of formality.
- Think about your seating layout and reserve or order any rentals you may need. Lolli keeps a stock of Chiavari chairs and round tables with cloths on hand for events, but I usually rent what I need according to the occasion. You will want to offer everyone a place to sit, especially at a shower when gift opening may take a while!
2-3 WEEKS OUT:
- Personalize whatever you can for that particular occasion! Order monogrammed cocktail napkins for snacks and drinks or hand towels by the sink in your powder room to add a memorable touch, which shows forethought and intentionality. Speaking of personalizing, one of our favorite signatures for a baby or bridal shower is monogrammed floral wreaths on the door to greet guests…This offers a great first impression, and it signals to guests that they’ve arrived at the right home! Festive balloons can also achieve this for children’s birthdays or a casual pool party.
- Next, think about your menu! What do you plan to cook and what do you plan to outsource/pick up/cater? Getting a plan together ahead of time eliminates a lot of stress as your event approaches! Having a “theme” can help: Tex-Mex fiesta, Southern supper, Italian night, finger foods, “sugar and spice”—or just build around whatever your go-to specialty may be! Lolli always throws together a lavish cheese tray or charcuterie board to greet guests. It’s beautiful for any occasion and is something people feel comfortable nibbling on right away.
1 WEEK OUT:
- Set out your silver trays and other serve ware to ensure everything is clean, polished and ready to go! Make sure your linens are counted, ironed and prepared for use as well.
- Follow up on RSVPs to get an accurate headcount if a large number of guests have not yet responded. If you are hosting a more intimate group for a sit-down dinner, always curate the table(s) for flowing conversation with place cards. Guests enjoy being directed where to sit, and you have the opportunity to think through arranging seating so that everyone has the best time!
- Communicate with the guest(s) of honor to let them know how excited you are to celebrate them next week. Also, this is a good time to let them know of any relevant RSVP responses you need to pass along (i.e. “Aunt Sally regretfully cannot come in town but says to look out for a gift in the mail!”).
- Confirm schedule for the event with any co-hostesses and vendors. Remind them of the window during which you prefer they arrive to set up.
- Run the majority of your errands for the event today rather than waiting until the last minute. Check that list off!
- Set your table(s) and lay out serve ware. Doing this step ahead of time makes the day of your event run so much more smoothly!
- If you are personally preparing any part of the menu, then do your prep work ahead of time. For example, that crudité tray is a cinch to assemble when the dip is already prepared and vegetables sliced!
- I like to give the guest(s) of honor a framed version of their event’s invitation. It becomes a keepsake, or they can replace the invite in your frame with a photo from the party! Typically, I wrap this the day before with a note and place it on the gift table. It also designates to guests where presents should go as they arrive.
- Get yourself ready first thing, so you do not feel like you’re scrambling to put on mascara or choose an outfit as guests are arriving!
- Set out your décor and assemble the food displays. Also, have a bar area prepared for guests to access a variety of drinks upon arrival!
- Most importantly, be relaxed! The hostess sets the tone for the event, and if you are stressed, others will feel it. Your hard work has paid off, so now just do your best to smile, and HAVE FUN (while, of course, remaining attentive to your guests)!
VOILA, Y’ALL!™ Event planned. Cheers to you and the #intentionalmemories you’re creating!