It’s Tuesday again and that means another “party tip” from me, Jessica, of A Darling Day. Today I will be sharing ways to make your party a guest-centered party. It may sound obvious, but when throwing a party, think about your guests! The party experience is created for the guests, so spend time thinking of extra special ways to get your guests involved.
1. Have a guestbook.
They provide your guests with an opportunity to encourage, give advice or share excitement with you. The guestbook always plays an important role in any party I throw, but with a twist…
For my wedding, Neil and I provided guests with small pieces of cardstock, stamps, fun scissors and lots of colored pens and markers. Prompts like “Always remember to…” and “Love is…” were printed at the top of each card. These notes from our guests are the most cherished keepsakes from our wedding day. You will be surprised how creative your guests will be when given an opportunity! And to make the process of signing our “guestbook” even more interactive, we asked guests to nail their note to an old wood door.
At a barn wedding, guests tied their notes to an old wagon wheel.
At a baby shower, they hung them from a clothesline with small clothespins.
Think about your theme and a fun idea will come to you!
At Thanksgiving this past year, my sister cut cardstock into the shape of leaves. We all wrote something we were thankful for and tied the leaf note to branches in a big vase. And as a bonus, it doubled as a cool centerpiece!
2. Assign guests a task.
This could be as simple as asking guests to come in costume.
For a baby shower, you could send a plain white onesie with each invitation and ask guests to decorate it however they choose and bring it to the shower.
You could send guests a series of clues and let them discover where the location of the party is.
Assigning a task will get your guests thinking about and anticipating your party.
3. Have a photo booth.
Yes, these are all the rage right now, and rightly so! It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, young or old… you love to act silly. And creating your own photo booth is very easy. All you need is a backdrop in a well-lit area (outside is ideal) and a box of props. A backdrop can be as simple as hanging a well-ironed sheet or bolt of fabric.
Think again about your theme… it will help dictate the type of backdrop and props to provide your guests.
Having a fall-themed party?
Set up bails of hay and pumpkins and provide your guests with plaid shirts and bandanas.
Having a travel-themed shower?
Collage maps together for the background and provide guests with suitcases, aviator sunglasses, paper planes and vintage hats.
There are a few props you should always consider having, no matter what the theme of your photobooth. The first is a chalkboard or dry erase board (with chalk or markers). Guests can write messages on the board to pose with. You can also draw thought bubbles or speech bubbles on heavy mat board and write silly expressions in the bubbles. And you can never go wrong with hats and mustaches!
If you want your guests to be able to take photos of themselves, simply set up a camera on a tripod, turn it to the right settings and hook up a remote control shutter release. Otherwise, guests can take pictures of each other (just remember to provide a camera in case some guests do not bring theirs).
Neil and I built a “wall” for our wedding using a 4×8 piece of wainscoting. We added floral cotton fabric (to look like wallpaper) and molding. It was enjoyed by everyone, from my 3-year old nephew to my 85-year old Granny!
For an Alice in Wonderland party, we built a small box and decorated it like a room, with paint, wallpaper, molding, curtains and even some framed pictures. We provided a blue Alice dress for each girl to put on when she posed inside the booth. Remember in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ when she eats the cookie and grows and grows? This photobooth makes it seem as if our little Alices are getting bigger!
4. Always remember to give a favor to your guests. Always.
When throwing a birthday party for a child, do not fill a goodie bag with candy as a favor. I am sure the kids ate more than enough sugar AT the party. They do not need to be sent home with even more! Think of making their favor a game or toy or costume prop. Or make a craft at the party and send the kids home with their finished product.
A food favor is a better idea for adults and is best when homemade or locally made (it is more personal). Consider using an old family recipe to make jam, barbeque sauce or granola. Or put all of the dry ingredients to your favorite cookie recipe in a jar. Then tie the recipe to the jar to share with your friends.
The theme should be considered even when deciding on a favor. You could give locally made apple butter as a favor at a fall party. Or locally made honey as a favor at a ‘Birds and the Bees” baby shower. At a travel themed party you could give luggage tags. For a garden party, you could give small bags filled with seeds. I made each guest “a cup of cake” (cake and icing layered parfait-style in a mason jar) for a cupcake birthday party.
Try to make the party favor personal and cohesive with your party theme. Guests will appreciate the time and effort of a thoughtful favor!
5. Consider any special diet restrictions your guests may have.
Sometimes, you don’t know if a guest has an allergy or special diet. But if you do, you should consider adapting different dishes or making special ones that they can enjoy. I know several friends who are lactose-intolerant, have a gluten allergy or are allergic to nuts or red food dye. I am a vegetarian, and although I always come prepared and never expect a host to change their menu for me, it makes me feel so special when they make a couple things meat-free for me. It takes a little more effort, but your guests will appreciate the consideration!
I hope this gives you some ideas of how to consider your guests when planning a party. Join me back here next week for a couple fun ideas for making labels for food and drinks. In the meantime, come visit me on my blog, my facebook page or my etsy shop!
Have a wonderful week!