July 26, 2019
If you want to go broke, plan your parties with Pinterest…Seriously though, planning a party today is hard, probably because there are SO many options. Over time, I have learned to distill all that I see on Pinterest into something manageable but still spectacular, and I will share these tips with you!
I think in another life I would have been a party planner, which is definitely part of the reason I love helping schools plan dances at My School Dance. Dances are like big parties, and with big parties it is easy to get overwhelmed. Pinterest gives you creative and unique ideas, but those ideas come at a cost, both monetary and to your sanity. Overwhelming on the days leading up to your party makes it no fun! So, enough chatting about party planning, and let’s get into the details.
1. Create a board and pin as many ideas as you can AT FIRST:
I recommend having a board for each one of your parties (or dances). This helps you keep all of your ideas organized and clear, and hopefully won’t distract you as much. After I create a board for my party, I search things related to my theme idea. For example, I planned a pirate birthday party for my daughter and searched all things pirate: decorations, cake, favors, kids’ ideas, etc. I sometimes got into a deep hole of searching, but eventually got out of it when I needed to move onto something else. Do this in spurts, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Pinning over time allows you to think of new ways to search Pinterest and may even lead you to discover pins you didn’t notice before. Oh, and about timing, I would recommend starting to plan at least a month out to allow for ordering decorations/favors and developing more ideas.
2. Consolidate your ideas into a list of realistic combinations
I would say this part is the most challenging. Some of my boards have over 50 pins of ideas, how do I turn those into something manageable? I think one of the beauties of Pinterest is the ability to truly visualize. I look at all of my pins collectively and decide which go together in different areas of my party, you’d be surprised how many different theme vibes you can find for one theme. I then plan out the major areas of the party with the pinned ideas, i.e. appetizers, main dishes, desserts, general decorations, drinks, favors, and activities if necessary. Within each of these categories, I organize my ideas. I put together a brunch bridal shower, and as you can imagine there are like one million ideas for this. It was important for me to categorize exactly what I wanted in each area of the party so that I wasn’t overwhelmed.
3. Figure out what you need to get to make your vision into reality
After I have my ideas together for each section of my party, I make a list of what I need to have to bring the ideas to life. A small warning here, sometimes things on Pinterest are harder than they appear… meaning, that unless you are a DIY expert, find elements for your party that are a combination of DIY and some assembly required so you are not spending all of your time trying to figure out how to make a dinosaur out of popsicle sticks and cotton balls. Another part of figuring out your party plan is determining what food you need. As a person who has made this mistake 100 times, try not to overestimate the amount of food you need. It is very easy to get caught up in all of the great ideas and end up with way more food than you need. At parties, most people don’t eat as much food as you would think, and usually what is the most boring will go first because people are familiar with it. So, don’t get too fancy with your food choices. This can vary based on the number of people, but I would recommend 3-4 appetizers (if you want people to eat main courses maybe less), 2-3 entrée options, 3-4 sides, 1 large dessert (or 2-3 small desserts), and more drinks than you think depending on your party demographic. For a brunch party, I would suggest 2-4 options of sweet and savory items with a dessert depending on what the party is for. One of the most amazing things you can add to your party is a beautiful cake. I promise you, I’ve had many parties and the best ones were where the cake was the centerpiece. For my baby shower, I had a books and babies theme where all of the food was structured around different books. I then had a beautiful cake that looked like stacked books that was in itself one of the best decorations of the party.
4. Order your supplies, make what you can
Once you have organized your ideas into categories and made your list of what exactly you need, it’s time to order your supplies. Some of the best places to order decorations and favors are Etsy, Amazon, Anderson’s, Oriental Trading, and your local thrift store. Because there are so many options on these sites, it is really important that you stick to your list and your ideas so that you do not go overboard and wonder where all your money went! If you are a skilled DIYer, I would recommend making some of your décor, both to save cost and make something super cool that cannot be bought. I am not much for DIY, but I have been able to put together some fun decoration ideas with items from thrift stores. If you do find something intriguing on one of the sites to buy, make sure to go back and edit your list so that you do not overbuy. Besides favors, you also could look at t-shirts for the party honoree (I like to get these on Etsy because you can customize them). Again, remember that many of these decorations may take a while to make or arrive so plan your time out accordingly!
5. ASK for help
This is a lot of work, right?! I cannot stress enough to ASK FOR HELP. If you are a female reading this, I know it is not in your DNA to ask for help, but I promise, you will enjoy your party so much more if you just ask for help! What kind of help can you ask for? Well, do you have a friend that is an incredible chef, ask him/her if they can help you prepare some of the food. Oftentimes, they will only have you pay for supplies and will help you out of the goodness of their heart and passion for cool parties because, duh, your party was planned on Pinterest! If you can afford to, I would recommend at least having someone else prepare the main protein dishes. These are often time and temperature intensive, and will require a lot of your time, time that could be spent decorating. Decorations are another area you can recruit help in. Find someone to help setup the day before or day of the party. So much goes into a party that you might forget about like getting the ice, buying enough drinks, plates/cups/cutlery, and having an extra set of hands is extremely helpful. Another thing I would suggest outsourcing is the cake… I can guess that most of you are not profession bakers, which is totally fine, neither am I! You can easily find a beautiful cake for every budget whether through a baker, your grandma, or Costco (remember the cake can be the centerpiece of your décor). Asking for help does not reflect poorly on you. Every person attending wants a good party, so many people will not refuse to help set up or make a side dish. If you take anything from this blog, please just ask for help!
6. ENJOY your party! (And don’t forget to take pictures)
Seriously, all these tips are great, but if you don’t enjoy your party what was the point?! Please, make sure you take time to talk to your friends, dance to the music, try your amazing food, have a drink, and make sure you take pictures! Try taking pictures of the food and décor before the party starts and they get messed up. You never know, your party could inspire the next Pinterest party!
I hope you found these tips helpful! If you need help planning your next school party or dance, our Dance Partners at My School Dance are here and ready to offer you helpful tips and take the burden away of managing your check in, permission forms, and ticket sales.
Until next time, happy dancing!
COO, My School Dance