how to throw a successful party

It's no secret that I love a good party. And throwing one happens to be one of my very favorite things in the world, even though I've had my fair share of flopped events. I've learned a little along the way, but I'm certainly no expert. Thank goodness for Pinterest and social media! Sharing some ideas that have worked for us below, along with pictures from Bear's first birthday (featured here on Hostess with the Mostess) and photos from sweet friends that let me show off their amazing events!

1. Make your guests feel welcome immediately.
I think we'd all be surprised at the number of people that struggle with social anxiety. For these people, and even those who are social butterflies, being made to feel welcome instantly provides a warm and comforting environment. Whether you're greeting guests at the door or having hors d'oeuvres and cocktails passed so that no-ones' hands are empty, it's always a good idea to make your guests feel at home.

2. Enlist some help.
Oh, sweet delegation. There is truly no better feeling in the world than having all your work done for you while you sit back and enjoy your own party. I'm kidding, a little bit, because I'm pretty much the world's worst at this. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to parties, so I want to do everything myself to make sure it's "done right" (joke's on me, it never is). However, the times I take a deep breath and let others help makes all the difference, in both my sanity and the party itself. If the guests see the hostess running around like a chicken with her head cut off, they're likely to feel tense and come ask if there's anything they can do to help. You don't want your guests feeling like they need to assist with labor; they're there to enjoy the party! If you enlist the help of family and/or friends beforehand, you can enjoy the event and so will your guests.

3. Put time and effort into the guest list.
This is arguably the most important tip on this list. Along the way, I have learned time and time again that people make the party. At our wedding, Zach invited one of his friends from college that I had never met. He came to the wedding, and was pretty much the hit of the reception between his outgoing personality and wild dance moves. I'm also fairly certain that he slept in his car in the parking lot that night. Point is, that dude was fun. No-one there besides Zach really knew him but by the end of the night, we all felt like we had a new (very intoxicated) friend.

When making the guest list, don't worry if there happen to be friends from all backgrounds and social circles. This just makes things more interesting and your party will be all the more fun and memorable.

4. Set the mood with music.
This of course depends greatly on the type of event and people in attendance. If you're hosting an event where conversation is key, keep background music to a minimum. For a sweet 16 party or bachelorette, crank that radio up.

5. Invite guests electronically.
This is something I go back and forth on, depending on the type of event. I recently helped with a baby shower where many of the guests were over 60, so e-vites were out of the question. However, there are times when inviting guests through email or Facebook makes the most sense and is cost-effective. They even get reminders and notifications that way! I sent out invitations for Bear's first and second birthdays but for his third, we opted to invite friends on Facebook. This turned out to be a blessing because we had to move the date of the party due to weather, and it was really easy to let everyone know all at once on the Facebook event page.

6. Embrace excess.
Having too much is always better than running out, especially when it comes to food and drinks. If you have left-overs, send them home with guests or donate to a local food bank.

7. Lighting is key.
This can be a tricky one. I prefer outdoor events during daytime because the natural light is best for pictures. But for after dark gatherings, the more romantic the better; think candlelight and dim overhead lights. Dimmer lighting sets a more relaxing mood, encouraging friendliness and intimacy. Studies have shown that people are more confident about their appearance in softer light, so pour on the relaxed ambience.

8. Food above all else.
Let's be real here for a second. Not everyone drinks alcohol. Not everyone dances, or likes to measure someone's stomach in toilet paper, or cares to wave sparklers as the happy couple exits. Not everyone will notice the little personalized stickers you stuck in the favor bags. But you know what every single person does care about? The food. If you've got a killer menu, you've got a killer party. Guests will leave satisfied and happy, sparklers or not.

9. Don't spend hours cleaning beforehand.
This is a major note to self. I always do this, and I always kick myself afterwards. It simply isn't worth it to spend three hours cleaning your house top to bottom for a bunch of hooligans to come in and wreck it in three minutes flat. Sorry, friends, for the hooligans reference; I was mostly referring to my boys.

Instead of spending hours cleaning, try a twenty minute approach and focus on major noticeable areas. Close off doors to rooms you don't want seen by nosey, wandering guests. Or that guy who can never seem to find the bathroom.

10. Remember to relax.
Another major note to self. Anyone else struggle with this? Because I'm bad at delegating tasks, as mentioned above, I'm usually an absolute mess during a party I'm hosting. I've even been known to stop everything and sweep during the middle of a playdate. That's just stupid. You worked hard to prepare for this event, you deserve to sit back and enjoy it along with the guests. Inevitably, something will go wrong, it always does. But it's up to you to have the right attitude and brush it off; chances are no-one else will even notice. Put your worries aside and enjoy the moment. Not saying you have to take a Xanax, but if there's one available, it's probably a good idea.

photo cred:
Valentine's party: Sparkle Shiny Love
nautical baby shower: Thoughtfully Styled
ballerina birthday party: Livin' Life with Style
first photo: Diamond Oak Photography

Thank you for reading! Hope you found some of these tips helpful for your future event planning. If you have any advice on the topic, I'd love if you'd share in the comments below!

xo, Britt