Throwing a great party is all about the experience your guests have. We experience life through our senses, so let your senses be your guide as you plan your event!
You’ve got your guest list and your date set, so the next thing to think about is theme and centerpieces.
You can go all out: a Cinco de Mayo fiesta with sombreros for the guests, brightly colored tablecloths, candles, flowers, and a piñata or a Chinese Moon Festival bash with lanterns, paper dragons, red tablecloths and gold plates and cutlery, moon cakes and fireworks. Don’t forget about the little details - they may not seem like much, but visually they make a huge difference.
Or you could go more casual or modern and stick to a color scheme: varying shades of one particular color or 2-3 complementing colors. Don’t go too overboard with multiple colors, or it can get visually overwhelming very quickly.
Whichever you pick, stick with that theme. Think about textures when planning tablecloths and centerpieces. A sleek, modern alternative to floral centerpieces is fruit piled into glass cylinders - which is eco-friendly as well, as you can eat them when you’re done! For a variation on a more traditional bouquet, add pieces of fruit into your centerpieces. I’m currently loving natural textures, like wooden vases, filled with greenery, a few flowers and a few nectarines tucked in, with various sized votive candles along the table.
Taste & Sight
Juice up your party with some fun and fruity mocktails! You’ve got taste covered with the delicious fruity recipes you’ve cooked up, but don’t forget about thirst quenchers. A signature drink or two in fun, bright colors adds both a visual and tasty element to your party.
|Nectarine Lemonade||Pluot "Mojito"||Peach Baby Bellini|
Peel and puree 1/2 nectarine for each glass.
Pour puree into each glass.
Fill with cold lemonade.
Garnish with a slice of nectarine!
Looking for something extra cool? Freeze lemonade into
Make a batch of simple syrup: Boil 1 cup sugar and
Muddle 3 mint leaves with 1 oz of simple syrup
Puree 1/2 pluot, 1 oz simple syrup, and the juice of 1/2 a lime.
Pour this into the glass, add ice,
Peel and puree 1/4 of a peach per glass.
Pour into the bottom of each glass.
Fill remainder of glass with Sparkling Apple Cider.
Stir just before serving.
Music sets the tone for any gathering - stores use music to move customers through them at different paces: think about the places you shop and then the volume and tempo the music is played at. Movies use it to set the mood for a scene - because really, how many times in real life does the ba-dum, ba-dum of the Jaws theme play during a shark attack or sweet melodies burst from out of nowhere when you bump into someone you think is cute? However, music makes us happy and builds an emotional connection to what we are experiencing, so be sure to put together a playlist designed around your gathering. Here are a few helpful hints:
A friend of mine attended a wedding a while back where the newly - and happily - wedded couple walked out to Sara Bareilles’ Love Song. While the title looks lovey-dovey and the tempo is perky and happy, the lyrics tell a different story:
“I’m not gonna write you a love song,
‘cause you asked for it, ‘cause you need one….
I’m not gonna write you to stay
If all you have is leaving I’m gonna need a better
Reason to write you a love song today...”
And because the couple’s intention was not to say they didn’t love one another enough for a love song, the music struck an off chord with the guests - maybe it had special meaning for them, but it was lost on their audience.
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or the Feather Theme from Forrest Gump would probably be a better tempo for afternoon tea than Eminem’s Lose Yourself or Katy Perry’s Hot n’ Cold. However, her California Girls , Tim McGraw’s Southern Voice, or The Chiffon’s One Fine Day all make for fun, upbeat summer BBQ tunes.
Change the tempo to add subtle transitions in the evening: Keep it upbeat towards the beginning, but wind it down towards the end of the evening as a subtle hint to your guests that the party is closing down. I wouldn’t go so far as Sound of Music’s So Long, Farewell, but going from Party Rock Anthem or Tik Tok in the afternoon to Claire de Lune over coffee would definitely do the trick. If that jump is a bit drastic for you, even switching to something along the lines of Colbie Caillat or Tyrone Wells should bring the energy levels down enough for your guests to feel the evening is drawing to a close without having to push them out the door.
You know them. You love them. And so do your friends. So play them! These songs will get your guests moving - whether onto a dance floor if you’ve got one, or just doing the head bob on the sidelines. Think Sweet Home Alabama, Old Time Rock & Roll, Footloose, Brown Eyed Girl, YMCA, Maggie Mae, the Electric Slide, Sharp Dressed Man, Twist & Shout, and We Are Family. Throw in some contemporary hits as well, and you’ll have a surefire party pleasing playlist.
One of my strongest childhood memories is playing outside in the garden and orchards. The deep earthy smell of freshly irrigated soil, the intermingling scents of ripe fruit on the tree and decomposing peaches on the ground, honeysuckle vines growing along the garden gate with their sweet aroma hanging in the warm, heavy air. The valves gurgling crisp, fresh water at the end of each row as the leaves stirred at the slightest breeze, carrying the intoxicating scents that signified no school and long, carefree afternoons with my family. It isn’t really a specific moment, or anything significantly life-changing, but there is something about that smell that triggers hundreds of mini-moments that just sum up a happy childhood.
Now, if the smell of rotting peaches can bring all of those happy memories right back to the forefront of my mind in an instant, think of what a great smelling candle or fragrant floral bouquet will do for your guests! It doesn’t have to be over the top - think flowers in spring, sunscreen and citronella oil in the summer, fresh brewed apple cider in the fall, and pine in the winter.