First, I hope that everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving. Ours was delicious and quiet. Then the weekend came and we were super busy, taking down Thanksgiving decorations, getting out the Christmas decorations, decking the halls and fluffing the garland, lighting the lights and trimming the tree. After 3 straight days of being busy as elves, we have a home ready for the holidays and blog hops and parties. Sweet Shark and I love to have friends over anytime, but especially during the holidays when the house is full of beautiful Christmas cheer. We started our Christmas party planning a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. One of the first things on my party agenda is selecting just the right invitation because any holiday party planning starts with an awesome invitation.
Before I get into the details of party planning with an awesome invitation, I want to announce the winner of my November Giveaway. Patty Lucas of Fairfield, Connecticut. Patty will be moving to a new home in the spring and will be using her sign in the new place.
Check back on Friday, December 1st for the December Giveaway announcement.
Holiday Party Planning Starts with an Awesome Invitation
Thank you to Paperless Post in conjunction with Anagram Interactive for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
Actually, party planning starts before you choose your invitation. Your invitation should reflect the theme and style of your party. Here’s the steps that I take before I select my invitation.
- What type of party do you want to have? At Christmas time, this could be as simple as a cookie exchange, a potluck dinner, a dessert party, a sit~down dinner, a buffet or a cocktail party.
- How many people can you and do you want to invite? Obviously, your guest list will be determined by your space, your budget and how you like to entertain. Christmas lends itself to a more festive attire, but that can mean casual (wear your favorite Christmas sweater) to dress~up in your cocktail best.
- The date and time? There are just so many Friday and Saturday nights before Christmas (8 this year), although for more casual parties, a Sunday brunch or late afternoon event is really nice.
- Menu ~ how much food and what type do you want to prepare? If you are going to cater the food, either completely or partially, then the caterer should be contacted when you first think about having a party.
Pre Party Planning ~ How to Send Your Invitation
Until a few years ago, the only (and proper) way to send invitations was by mail. I loved sending and receiving an invitation to a party. But, let’s face it: choosing, printing, addressing, stamping and mailing invitations is a major time and budget expense. With the advent of technology and email, a more informal get together could be announced via that medium. To be honest, I’m a traditional kind of Southern girl, and it took me awhile to give up sending paper invitations through the mail. But once I discovered the benefits of using an online invitation service like Paperless Post, I was hooked. So snail mail or up~to~date technology to send invitations?
So why have I chosen to use Paperless Post? You’ve heard me mention that every other year Sweet Shark and I have a big Kentucky Derby Party. About 6 years ago, the date snuck upon me and I couldn’t get printed invitations in time (We send out those invitations 4 weeks in advance.) Since I had received invitations through an online invitation service before, I decided to try it. Although I loved the features of using the online service, I was less than thrilled with the invitation selection. For our next party, I found Paperless Post, and I have loved their gorgeous invitation selection every since. In fact, I looked at our party invitation history and this is the 10th time that I’ve used Paperless Post.
I love that there are so many categories to choose from. It makes selecting the right invitation more efficient.
The Advantages of Online Invitations
- 1000’s of designer driven invitations available for any occasion. The selection is amazing. I pick the category that I’m interested in ~ in this case, Holiday Invitations. I select about 5 ~ 7 that I like and will fit the type of party we are hosting, which is a Christmas cocktail party. Then I show Sweet Shark and together we narrow it down to 2.
Here is the invitation that we selected this year. I like that it’s festive and sophisticated.
- Easy styling. We can browse the invitations, try out different fonts, styles, colors, and formats, all from the convenience of our homes. On any device. I like to do my design on my computer, just because it’s easier for me on the big screen. I love the ease of trying different looks and styles on a couple of invitations to see which one looks better. It’s so easy ~ no design skills required. And you can even choose a matching envelope insert.
- Ease of sending invitations. Once your invitation is created, you can name it and save it. Then you can easily add your guest’s names, email address (from your address book), how many guests per invitation, and any other details you are interested in. Paperless Post stores all guests’ names and email addresses from previous events, so it’s one click and done.
- Guest tracking. That’s tracking, not stalking! Paperless Post allows you to easily see who has opened your invitation and who has responded with “attending” or “regret”. It makes it so easy for your guests. And if they choose, they can send you a little note: “We are so excited. Looking forward to the party.” or “So sorry to miss. We’ll be out of town.” And if it’s getting close to the event and someone has not responded, you can quickly resend them the invitation with a nice little reminder ~ no calling to find out whether or not they are coming (Don’t be that guest!).
- And speaking of tracking. Paperless Post sends you an email when a guest has responded. I love getting those messages! And I can check my guests’ responses from my phone or iPad with the Paperless Post App.
- Need party ideas? Paperless Post has a great blog with ideas from top designers and party experts.
After the Invitations are Sent
Party planning and hosting a party is work ~ but super fun work! Here’s a quick list of party planning items on your agenda:
- The type of party you are hosting will dictate the menu. This is one of my favorite things about party planning ~ the food!
- Will you need help? Depending on the number of people invited, you may want to hire a bartender or wait staff. It’s well worth the expense so you can enjoy your own party, be a gracious hostess and have fun with your guests. Christmas is the busiest time of the year for service professionals, so book them as soon as you can. (Be sure to work this expense into your overall budget ~ and don’t forget to include tips.)
- Anything that you can purchase early, the better: liqueurs, wine, beer, napkins. If you will need to rent extra tableware, book that ahead, too. If you entertain often, then purchasing standard 10~ounce wine glasses or highball glasses is the best route in the long run. Same for plates and silverware. Here are some of my party essentials.
- Take inventory of your serving pieces, tablecloths, candles, anything you think you might need. You don’t want to be hours away from party time and find your best tablecloth has a stain or you can’t find your carving set (happened to me!)
- Any party food items that you can make ahead and freeze is a good thing in my mind. Even starting the cooking 3 or 4 days ahead will make party day so much more pleasant.
- This isn’t exactly party fare, but if you plan to get your hair cut, a manicure/pedicure or purchase a new outfit for the party, allow plenty of time to make appointments. Everyone wants to look pretty for the holidays and you don’t want your favorite stylist or manicurist to be booked.
- Put this on sticky notes everywhere: DO NOT FORGET THE ICE!
I hope that focusing on creating beautiful party invitations will be one of the first items on your party planning to~do list. A pretty party invitation will get your guests excited about the party and you’ll be the most hospitable party hostess around. You might also want to revisit my post on party etiquette before your event.
Today is the first day of the Holiday Home Blog Hop so please visit today’s lovely decorated homes. I’ll be back Wednesday with a peek at part of our holiday decor.