Choosing Party Venues

A lot of work goes into planning a party, no matter what the size and scope of your event. You might be surprised to learn that it might require more effort to execute an offsite party than a party at your own home!

Many people limit their hosting to parties they throw in their own homes. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with home-based parties, a whole world is outside your door, just waiting for you to explore.

In this chapter, we'll cover the basics of selecting a venue, including home-based parties, such as meal or cocktail parties, open houses, or block parties, destination-based parties at bars, restaurants, and banquet halls – even another city – and outdoor parties at the park or the beach, the woods, the river, or the parking lot of your favorite sports arena.

As any designer will tell you, form and function are interrelated. The type of venue you select will have a significant impact on the party you host, and vice versa. Before you commit to a locale, familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of different venues, and find out what you should expect from each type of party place.

When selecting a venue, keep in mind the varying needs of your guests. Will you need to find out about wheelchair access, handicapped bathrooms, or special parking needs? Will vegetarians find plenty to eat? Try to be respectful of your guests' requests – as a host, it is your responsibility to ensure everyone is comfortable, safe, and happy.

In the House
As I mentioned, home-based events are by far the most common parties given. However, "home party" is a broad category, with several different available options.

Meal and Cocktail Parties
Whether you are throwing a theme or occasion party, the general components will be the same: Guests will come to your house for about four hours, eat and drink, enjoy a little conversation, and then leave – hopefully with smiles on their faces.

The most flexible of all the different types of parties and party venues, home-based meal and cocktail parties are appropriate for celebrating a birthday, anniversary, housewarming party, holiday, special occasion, or almost any other event.

  • Pros – You get to be completely in charge. Not only can you decide the budget, theme, menu, guest list, activities, entertainment, date and duration of the party, but you will also be able to prepare for the party ahead of time, in the weeks leading up to the big date. You might also find it easier to have a party in your own home because you will have everything you need in one place. Best of all, hosting a party in your own home means you won't have to drive anywhere! One other benefit of hosting a party in your home is that you have more options for stretching your hosting dollars. If you're on a tight budget, make the party work for you. Have a potluck, or plan a dessert-only party. Just tactfully let your guests know what to expect, and they will cheerfully comply.
  • Cons – You have to be completely in charge. You will have to do all the work or delegate tasks to helpers, whom you must then supervise without seeming micro-managerial. You'll also run the risk of damage to your home or personal belongings, and you might have to deal with people who aren't sober enough to drive home. As if all that isn't enough, you'll be stuck with all the guests for the entire evening, until the very last person goes home.
Of course, hosting a home-based party means you'll need to have a home to which you're comfortable inviting people. Whether you're planning a sit-down dinner, a stand-up mixer, or a backyard barbecue, your home will be the focus of your guests' attention. Make sure it is clean, uncluttered, and comfortable, with plenty of extra toilet paper!

When you're planning your home-based party, think about how long you'd like it to last. Although an all-nighter is certainly testament to your hosting skills, you might need to get up early the next day. When you're ready to close up shop, brew a pot of coffee. Your guests will get the hint.

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More on: Pop Culture

Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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