Saturday, June 30, 2012

Office Party Planning Tips

We spend a lot of time at work and, consequently, we spend a lot of time with our coworkers. Lots of businesses like to offer their employees a chance to relax and shoot the breeze from time to time while also celebrating employees' accomplishments and other milestones. To this end, small businesses and corporations everywhere instituted the Party Planning Committee.

But what if you're new to party planning, or you've been doing it for a while and need some inspiration to shake up the workplace a little? Well, we've got a few tips to help you plan an office party that's a hit--whether it's for a promotion, a birthday, a holiday celebration or whatever!

Name the Big Event

Every party deserves a great name. It's a way to add a touch of humor or personality to the event, which will in turn generate more positive reactions and higher attendance. For example, instead of inviting employees to the "Don's Plumbing Christmas Party," send out invitations to the "Don's Plumbing Holiday Disco Extravaganza." Well, a disco might not be a draw for your event, but you get what we're driving at.

Pick the Right Date

If you're hosting a small office party during business hours, we recommend setting the date for a Friday afternoon. Fridays are just more festive, but they're also a little slower work-wise in a lot of companies. If you're planning an off-site event, you won't have much choice but to choose an evening or weekend. Do your employees a favor and host a party on a Friday or Saturday night if you're planning to serve any adult beverages.

Serve a Variety of Finger Foods

In most cases, the less stuffy the event, the more employees will enjoy it. Instead of a sit-down menu, go for a variety of appetizers and finger foods that guests can munch on as they mingle. The less structured the event, the better the party atmosphere. (Note: Your best bet is to offer vegetarian and non-vegetarian options to make sure there's a little something for everyone.)

Remember that office parties don't have to be a drag. Make sure everyone is included, and ask for suggestions if your party planning committee needs ideas that will be fun for the entire company.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Slumber Party Tips

So your daughter wants to have a slumber party for her next birthday. Now what?

If you're going to host a slumber party, you might be a little anxious--but never fear! There are a few things that will help you get through the night unscathed. Here's what to do:

Set a Guest Limit and Stick to It

Your best bet is to keep the guest list to eight or fewer. You might need to whittle the list down to six or less if space is limited in your home. Remember: all those sleeping bags are going to have to fit somewhere! Send out your invitations and include a contact information sheet with your RSVP. Everyone will feel better knowing that parents can be easily reached -- just in case.

Set Arrival and Departure Times

Make it clear when the party starts and ends, and ask parents to bring the children after they've had an evening meal. You'll likely be serving cake or other treats, but preparing dinner for an army of your child's friends might be a little too much to ask--especially with all the party decorating and planning you'll have to do. Keep breakfast the next morning simple with individual serving cereal boxes, fruits, and a choice of water, juice or milk. It's a good idea to ask parents to pick their children up by noon.

Schedule Activities

Whether you play birthday games, outdoor games, or do movies and popcorn, it's a good idea to give structure to the evening for the kids. Let them know what they can expect, and you'll help calm any worries or anxiety that first-time sleepover guests will have about being away from home overnight.

Set a Bed Time

A half-hour before it's time for bed, dim the lights and start a quiet time for the partygoers to wind down. Some of the children will probably be a little chatty, even after lights out, but you shouldn't have any reason to stress about it. It is a party after all.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tips for Hosting Brunch

Hosting a brunch is a great idea for a party or gathering. They're perfect for celebrating wedding showers, baby showers, holidays and more. However, if you've never planned a brunch before, you might have a difficult time planning and organizing. Here are some tips to help you pull it off:

Go for the Brunch Buffet

Serving food buffet style is ideal, because it allows you to serve the food quickly without worrying about juggling different courses. Plus, with the right tools, you can keep food at temperature so that everyone get their warm food warm and their cold food cold.

Go for a Diverse Menu

The brunch buffet also gives you the opportunity to create a diverse menu that accommodates a variety of diets. Got guests with food allergies or diabetes? Serving vegetarians? At a brunch buffet, everyone can pick and choose their ideal brunch meal. Here are some great brunch favorites:

  • Egg and meat casseroles (or an omelette station if you want to kick it up a notch)
  • Quiches
  • French toast, breakfast bars, pastries, pancakes
  • Fruit and/or vegetable salad
  • Bacon and/or sausage
  • Cheeses, jams, jellies
  • Bagels and cereals (especially great for kids)
  • Coffee, tea, orange juice, milk, hot cocoa
Make the Food Easy to Eat

You can plan a sit-down style brunch buffet if you have plenty of table seating for your guests. However, you can also enjoy a great buffet as guests walk around and mingle. To accomplish this, your menu should include bite-sized options that don't require utensils. Mini quiches, bagels, and pre-cut pastries work perfectly.

How to Arrange the Brunch Buffet Table
Plan your table before you start piling on the food. In general, keep your main course or entree items together, and consider using separate tables for dessert items. Use yet another table for coffee and other drinks. When serving a large crowd, allow your guests to fill their plates from both sides of the table. Finally, don't forget the party decorations for the buffet table. Adding decorative elements to the serving tables with make your brunch buffet more festive.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Eco-Friendly Party Tips

Everywhere you turn, people are working hard to go green and reduce waste. There are plenty of ways you can encourage green party planning too! These eco-friendly party tips aren't just good for the planet, but they can also rescue your party planning budget.

Use Cloth Napkins and Real Dishes

You can cut way back on the amount of waste you produce at your party by using real linens and dishes. By eliminating the paper plates and napkins from the equation, you can also create a more elegant party atmosphere for your guests.

Buy Recycled Products

We know that sometimes real linens and dishes just aren't feasible. If paper plates and napkins and plastic utensils are a must, look for brands that contain recycled content.  Recycle any products you can and store leftover items for future use. Look for party invitations that can be recycled, printed on recycle papers, or that have been printed with earth-friendly inks.

Store & Reuse Party Decor

You can store party favors and decorations for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and more just as you would decorations for the holidays. When you do this, you have the opportunity to turn ordinary party decor into family heirlooms -- just like your favorite Christmas ornament or Halloween wreath. You might also want to create a community party chest where you and family and friends join forces in creating a huge stash of party favorites.

Make Your Party Favors Eco-Friendly

It's always a fun idea to send your guests home with party favors. Instead of disposable toys and trinkets, offer them something that can be used over and over. Glass jars can be filled with treats or snacks and decorated to fit with your party decor and reused for drinking glasses, dessert mix jars and more once your guests take them home.

Do have tips or suggestions for planning a more eco-friendly party? Share them in the comments!