Are Your Parties A Bust? A Guide To Throwing The Perfect Shindig

Every party has got to start with an idea whether that idea be going out to dinner, or having a home party. Personally, home parties are my favorite and while I’m being honest I do like to host. As I reminisce about parties, my favorite has been themes where everyone dresses up and I set the scene with decorations in small elements.

Beware that your guests may be opposed to dressing up. I’ve asked my friends after a party whether or not that was a cumbersome request, and they said for the first one it seemed a bit odd but after they had such a great night they would do it again. A party is not a party without people. Convince them to come (because you know it will be great), pick a theme that everyone can work with from their existing wardrobe. The theme that I started out with is a Country theme; everyone can pull off some form of country so it’s a great one to start with. Here are the 3 most important elements to throwing your party:

Element 1: The Invitations

Oh the invitation! Now there are two ways of going about this, one is the traditional mail invitation which I think adds a nice touch of personalization this of course is dependent on how many guests you plan to invite because the postage and addressing time could rack up against you. If you do a mail invitation there are small touches you can do to cost-effectively make an invitation. First, go to your local post office and request stamps which have a country theme (this is no additional cost). Usually, they are very good about bringing out the different types for you to see. The second would be to try to write in a “country” script on the addressing which is simply a slanted cursive.

If you prefer to do the quick and simple e-invitations which is very popular on Facebook or just Google “e-invitations”(e-vite) and you will find plenty of sites which allow you to sign up for free services. If you use an e-vite there are often templates which you can choose from. I always like to write like I am a country girl just to add some character to the paper, but this of course may be over the top for some.

Remember to include in the invitation:

Name of Event

Date of Event

Location of Event

Theme

Celebration: If the party is being thrown for a particular individual(s) or celebrating an event

What to Bring: If you are doing a pot-luck party

RSVP: How to respond so you can get a headcount

Element 2: Appetizers, Main Courses and Desserts

Parties and food are like cars and wheels you need both to get it running. Planning for food items can be an exciting and then stressful process make sure to not go crazy over one dish. Like my mom always says, “crock-pots are your best friend when you throw a party”. Try to stick with the country theme of food, although I am sure if you go gourmet on them there won’t be any complaining.

Appetizers:

Some people like to have parties with tons of appetizers and no main courses which is a great way to give people a variety to choose from. It can be difficult to pick a main course which will fit the tastes of every guest so going with a variety of appetizers is a great way to cover all you bases.

I love my country themed nachos which are a huge hit! I get a cookie sheet and layer the bottom with tortilla chips, cover those chips with black beans and corn and a thin layer of cheese. Then I add another layer of chips with cilantro, tomatoes, sour cream and a thin layer of cheese. Then one more layer of chips with chicken, barbecue sauce and a thick layer of cheese. Put it in the oven to bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees and you are ready for a heap of country nachos.

Appetizers are really about accessibility, and being able to eat them standing while having a conversation. So, this is usually why you will see chicken bites instead of full chicken breasts on appetizer trays. When thinking of an appetizer idea, think about mobility and ability to eat mid-conversation.

Main Courses:

Main courses can be an interesting way to change the party. Instead of less connected guests running around from circle to circle the groups are able sit together at a table and have a conversation. Remember that the best part about social parties is to meet new people and grow existing relationships.

My favorite and easiest country main course to make is a pork and bean stew in the crock-pot. Check out southernfood.com for their Pork and Black Bean Stew recipe. It’s always a huge crowd pleaser and it’s very easy to make additional sides to compliment it. I also make around 8 loaves of garlic bread depending on my party size and I love that the smell of garlic wafts through the halls making those tummies rumble. I also make a barbecue green salad which is filled with corn, tortilla chips and a light barbecue sauce dressing.

If you have a large oven another great main course to make is to have a baked potato bar. There is nothing more fun than personalizing your own meal. I always love to get a baked potato and make my way down the line of toppings. Great topping ideas include but are not limited to shredded cheese, butter, bacon bits, chives, corn, barbecue sauce, sautéed onions, grilled peppers, chili, and even lettuce.

If you are planning on having a main course it is always good to have centerpieces at the table, it gives people somewhere to focus and talk about if conversation gets stale. You never know who will sit down next to each other, and reality is conversation doesn’t come easily to everyone.

Desserts:

Appetizers get the chatter started, main courses warm the souls and desserts make the soul smile. Desserts are a great way to have guests participate and help you throw the party (this can be added to the invitations). Desserts are always exciting especially when it comes to a themed party everyone has an idea of what would be a great way to contribute. Not to mention, as a host it’s a great way to have some scrumptious left-overs!

I am pretty cheesy and like to bake cakes with a country theme iced on them or even a cake in a country shape. For example one year I did a cake and cut it into a barn and iced it. My strong point is not desserts, so having the guests contribute is usually my avenue. Make sure if you are having guests bring desserts to have them let you know what they will be bringing in their RSVP. First to assure that you don’t create the same dish, and second to make sure there will be enough desserts for everyone.

Element 3: The Scene & Event

Decorating for a country themed party is pretty easy. I like to do small decorations “accents” rather than decorating like a country barn. Remember you are throwing a party for friends not for 5 year olds. My decorations first start with centerpieces on the tables and sitting areas. My rule of thought, think about where people will be and what they will be interacting with the most and focus on those areas. Primarily it is always sitting areas and food.

For sitting areas simple country theme centerpieces are:

  • Horseshoes with a candle in the middle
  • Wicker baskets filled with hay and dried corn on the cob
  • Mason jars with barley strands in it like flowers
  • Some people get bale of hay to sit on – I have found this to be cute but not cost-effective

For food decorations:

  • Pie tins for eating plates
  • Checkered or tan colored napkins
  • Using a vessel made out of metal for condiment pouring is a nice touch
  • Wicker baskets for trays or holding utensils and napkins

Depending on the crowd, sometime you need to make events. Don’t worry there are plenty of “country” events that are sure to bring a crowd to its feet and start the chatter. The question is can you dance?

Learning to line-dance is a great interactive event for any party. What’s a party without dancing? Guaranteed there is someone in your party who knows how to line dance, if you can’t do this on your own then shoot out a quick e-mail and see if anyone would be willing to host line dancing lessons. This may sound weird, but I had my backyard filled with another event, so we did line dancing in the street. It ended up being a huge hit and neighbors all came by to join in the fun.

An undeniably great event is horseshoes. It’s easy to set up and easy to keep score and play. You need 2 stakes for each game so if your yard can accommodate more the more the merrier.

Don’t forget that if you are hosting the party especially in the food department get as much as you can do in the prep completed ahead of time. If you’re throwing the party your guest are going to want to talk to you and hang out, so the less you can be hosting in the kitchen the more success it will be for everyone. Happy hosting!

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The author of this article is Alisa Carscaden. I love to travel and reveal cultures and lifestyles through blogging. If you enjoyed this article please follow me on Twitter @Avantgaurd. This article is written on behalf of ThePlanCollection.com who provides the best country style house plans.

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