My youngest daughter, Kirsten, recently got engaged! Where does the time go?!
Soon, she will be married; and for the first time in over 30 years, Gary and I will be empty-nesters.
You might be able to relate to this feeling…
It’s hard to accept change, even when it is positive. On the one hand, I am overjoyed that Kirsten found such an incredible man, and that he is someone we know and trust. On the other hand, I will miss having her around the house every day to laugh with or hug or just bounce ideas off of.
Something that helps me remain joyful when I’m facing big changes is focusing on what I am gaining and not what I am losing.
And there’s no better way to celebrate than by throwing a memorable party!
I want to offer you a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years—tips that have helped me put together amazing events AND avoid party planning stress.
Creating the Theme
Half the fun of throwing a party is picking a theme!
For Kirsten’s bridal shower, we wanted to keep it casual, just family and close friends celebrating the happy couple at a fun, backyard picnic. Kirsten doesn’t like traditional bridal showers, so she wanted to keep things fun and casual. We decided on a patriotic theme: Make Showers Great Again!
For one, we love our country; and two, the Fourth of July had just come and gone, and— well, what can I say—I’m a fool for a discount! I purchased a few new, cute patriotic items at a steeeeeeeep discount!
AND I used a lot of things we already had like large, checkered tablecloths, plastic utensils, and a few bales of hay from our farm to add a charming country feel.
(Picnic/patriotic bridal shower)
Having a vision set BEFORE you get going is so, so important. I learned early on in life that without a set vision and plan, the steps I took weren’t getting me any closer to where I needed to be.
Websites like this (click here) on www.pinterest.com are so helpful in creating a look for your event. I looked up “rustic bridal shower,” and the next thing I knew it was two hours later! Warning: Pinterest will take hours out of your day if you let it!
But sites like this are so amazing because they help you get you excited about planning. Without a set plan, stress will inevitably creep in.
Luke 14:28-30 (NIV) tell us, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’”
Have you ever waited until the last minute to buy things for your party because you haven’t stopped to visualize what you needed beforehand? Then you wondered why you were running around like a chicken without its head the day before the event?
I was the same way! Until I found this amazing little tool—a checklist! Ever hear of it? LOL.
I want to save you sleepless nights—because who wants bags under their eyes the day of a big party? Those are pictures you will want to hide! Ha!
That’s why I am giving you my own, personal checklist, honed from years of experience planning birthday parties, bridal showers, weddings, and more for five kids!
Click HERE for your free Party-Planning Checklist.
Part of staying relaxed during the party planning process depends on staying organized.
Now that you have the checklist and a theme, it’s time to get organized and start planning!
The sooner you get organized, the lower your stress level will be. Ideally, you want to have all the important details decided and in the works weeks before the event.
For example, the first order of business is to put together a list of invitees, send out invitations, and manage the RSVP list, so you can know how many people to expect.
Set a deadline for all your tasks. For example, a deadline for invitations to be mailed, a deadline for purchasing the decor, a deadline for making or ordering the food, and a deadline for a budget.
P.S. – A budget shouldn’t be a loose suggestion. It should be pretty solid, accounting for every detail—from invites to decor and flowers.
If you are cooking, think about making some of the items in advance and freezing them. This will alleviate some stress that would’ve been caused by cooking everything the day of your event.
Also, set a deadline for selecting and purchasing the big decor items; and, as the event gets closer, you can take another look and see if there are any other small items you would like to add.
Keeping It Simple
No, you don’t need a 10-foot ice sculpture!
No, you don’t need to make seven different desserts!
Whether you are planning a menu or deciding on decor, keeping it simple is the foundation for a stress-free event!
For Kirsten’s bridal shower, we had delicious sliders and brats; sides like potato salad and baked beans; and for dessert, brownies, cookies, and s’mores, which we roasted after dinner by a big campfire.
I set up the tables with checkered tablecloths and the centerpieces I created were freshly-cut wood with flowers on top.
I also put little flags around the buffet table. Tying the theme into your decor is a great way to add a simple personal touch! It looked great!
And guess what? It didn’t take hours or hundreds of dollars!
Whether you are throwing a fancy dinner party or a casual backyard picnic, keeping it simple is the best way to go. The fewer the moving pieces, the less you have to manage.
Remember, good company is the real key to any great party!
No, you don’t need to do everything!
When someone offers to help, take it!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tell us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Working together is so much better than going it alone, AND delegating tasks is a great way to alleviate stress!
If letting go is hard, offer helpers simple tasks like picking up supplies or arriving early to help set up the tables, chairs, and decorations.
Bonus tip: Come up with a game or source of entertainment. It provides an engaging, fun distraction for guests. Setting up a few games of cornhole was a great addition to the bridal shower.
Silencing the Inner Critic
Once the guests start to show up, you can officially go off duty. You’ve done your best, and now it’s time to remember why you are celebrating.
By the way, guests can tell if you’re stressed, so enjoy!
Your attitude will set the tone!
And hey, put down that dish! Stop straightening the tablecloths, and stop picking up the napkins that have fallen on the ground. No cleaning up until your guests leave. Shoot, maybe no cleaning up until the day after the party! You deserve a break.
If something doesn’t look perfect, let it be imperfect. Give yourself grace!
Remember the big picture! Your guests aren’t there to check the party for imperfections; that’s all in YOUR head. Step out of your thoughts and into the amazing event that you helped create!
Being present at times like these is all you need to do! You are making memories!
Bonus tip: If you are doing some of the cooking, I commend you, but NEVER—and I mean, NEVER, NEVER—try out a new recipe the day of the party! ALL recipes demand a trial run. I learned this the hard way!