Friday, November 9, 2012 3:15 PM EST
We’re only one week into November and already my entertaining calendar for December is filling up! Yes, we are once again approaching that time of the year when friends and family fling open their doors and welcome us inside. My own celebratory December is particularly busy with not just the holidays but also three family birthdays. The only way I can make sense of this crazy month is to be organized and use all the resources available out there that make party planning a breeze. Below, 5 of my go-to places when entertaining.
1) Online Invitations
Sample invitations from Paperless Post.
While I would love to be the person that sends out handwritten invitations in physical mail (the old-fashioned way!), the truth of the matter is that doing so takes an enormous amount of time. Furthermore, it requires time on your guests’ behalf to reply. Online invitations have come a long way from the early days when the designs were at best second-rate and the response system cumbersome. Today, companies like Paperless Post provide a stunning array of designs and allow your guests to not only respond in a personal matter but easily enter the event into one of their online calendars.
My Pinterest board for a Kids’ Winter Birthday Party.
I’m sure that by now you have heard of and possibly frequent the social media site Pinterest. It’s a great place to store inspiration for your home, hobbies, crafts and decorating ideas. One of the ways I love to use it is to plan parties. Last year, I decided on a magical winter theme for my son’s third birthday and used Pinterest to gather together all my inspiration. I pinned everything from decoration ideas to cake inspiration to crafts the kids could make at the party. Seeing it all together in one place allowed me to envision the get-together before it even happened. I’m already hard at work on my next party: Anchors Away!
3) Wedding Blogs
Party ideas from wedding blog 100 Layer Cake.
In recent years, wedding blogs have taken over the internet. It’s now super-easy to pull up thousands of different weddings, from the homespun to the glamorous and exquisite. Each of these weddings can provide countless ideas for your own party, whether it’s an intimate gathering, a holiday feast or a birthday get-together. Don’t be afraid to steal these ideas for your own use, even if you aren’t planning a wedding! From the invitations to the food to the table decorations, wedding blogs are a terrific source of inspiration for a party.
4) Alternative locations
Office party venues in London via TimeOut; kid-friendly Smock Café via Toronto Life.
If the thought of cleaning your home and getting it ready to receive guests keeps you up at night, then think about hosting the party at an alternative location. You could either choose a party-ready venue or use your imagination and ask a local café, bookstore or meeting place if they would be willing to rent you the space for a few hours. It takes one more thing off of your to-do list. And cleaning up after the party is also a breeze!
5) Grand Finale
Three little words that say it all: Maggie Austin Cake.
Just as every well-decorated room needs a focal point, every good party needs a grand finale. More often than not, this comes in the form of a cake or triumphant dessert, like a plum pudding. If you have the skills, put some time and effort into making something spectacular; if you don’t, then spend some good money purchasing something equivalent. The arrival of the cake also serves as a subtle signal to your guests that the party is over!