Khoollect tips: planning the perfect party

We called in the professional party planners behind Decorate for a PartyHolly Becker and Leslie Shewring, to provide tips on throwing the perfect party, no matter the size of your party space. Here are their top tips:

Hosting a party in a small, confined space? No worries…

Holly: De-clutter as much as possible, highlight the mood of the party and keep decorations minimal. Store decorative objects that are normally on tables or stacked on the floor in boxes beneath your bed if you have to. Clear and turn tables into buffet or drink areas. Put pillows on the floor and sit around your coffee table for a casual bohemian party; or move your coffee table out of the living room and set up card tables and put a tablecloth on top – turn your living room into a dining area. It’s just important to clear the space so guests aren’t bumping into everything, have room to sit down and places to put their drinks. Make sure you have a good playlist and excellent lighting.

Leslie: It is best to use the largest room, usually the living room, as the place to gather. In the past I have used an inexpensive hollow door as an instant large table surface. I had saw-horse style legs that could be easily stored in a closet and then used to create the dining table.  Of course you have to be more organised in a small space; de-cluttering and possibly re-configuring the furniture to create more space is essential. Use all your space: for example, the kitchen counter can be used as the ‘serve yourself bar’ or as the buffet for the food to be served. Or try removing books from shelving to create other areas to serve snacks.

Our top advice for planning a party…

Holly: Plan ahead. Don’t wing it or wait until the last minute. Go through our book and choose the ideas you like from each chapter and create your own scheme from there. Don’t stress about making things perfect, just make it your goal to get the key elements in place so you aren’t running around before guests arrive – and nothing is done yet! Relax and have fun – your energy as the host will make (or break) the party so keep your spirits high and be positive. No one is coming to your party expecting red carpet treatment – they just want to be with you and your guests and have some nice memories and eat and drink something yummy. Really, remember that!

Leslie: Aim to get everything done ahead of time and set realistic goals for yourself. Maybe just make one or two projects from the book and decorate with them the day before. The more parties you host the easier it is and the more fun you will have with it all!

How to achieve the perfect atmosphere…

Leslie: I think all the details create a wonderful atmosphere for my guests. I like the house to be extra clean when I host. I try to tidy up the day before and buy my flowers and arrange them so that the house looks its best. The right lighting is essential, candles are lit and the lights are dimmed before guests arrive. Music is a must as well and I have different playlists depending on the kind of party I am hosting. Most importantly, I always like my guests to be offered a drink within a minute or two of arriving.

Holly: Greet each guest at your door personally; try not to send friends to meet and greet while you are off preparing. Let your friends prep and you go into hostess role, and show your guests that you really value them. Have a playlist that runs for at least three hours and make sure you include music that you think everyone knows and likes. Make sure your lighting is good – no harsh overhead lighting or ‘cafeteria style’. Think about the people that you invite too – consider excluding guests who may have history with another guest (like those who have broken up or are on bad terms, and friends who are no longer talking). It’s a hard thing to do but the whole mood of the party can be destroyed if you invite people who are not happy to be in the same room!

Decorate for a Party by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring is out now, published by Jacqui Small (£20).

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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