Choosing Party Venues

Out of the House
Although hosting a party removed from your home presents its own unique challenges, you will also reap incredible rewards, such as having help with the party planning and leaving cleanup to someone else. The following sections help you consider a number of options for away-from-home celebrations.

Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants and bars are the second-most popular venue for parties (after the host's home) for good reason. Parties in restaurants and bars, while generally more expensive than home-hosted parties, offer a wealth of amenities, especially when it comes to actually executing the party.

  • Pros – Although you'll need to put forth a bit of effort in planning the party, someone else will do all the really time-consuming work, such as preparing and serving the food and drink, decorating the venue, and cleaning up. You won't need to monitor the party a great deal because the restaurant or bar staff is excellent at logistics, nor will you need to bring anything extra, unless you're planning additional décor for a birthday or other occasion party. Finally, on the day of the party, all you'll really need to do is show up – with a cheerful attitude and a fat wallet, of course!
  • Cons – In addition to finding an appropriate restaurant that will accommodate the size and needs of your party, you'll also be responsible making the reservation far ahead of time, keeping track of RSVPs, answering questions ("Should I bring a gift?"), ensuring your reservation is large enough to accommodate last-minute arrivals, and acting as a liaison for the restaurant staff. You might also need to pay an additional fee if your party is large enough to require an entire room or section of the venue. The biggest con, however, is the cost: As the host of a bar or restaurant party, you are responsible for the entire check, including bar costs and tip. If your friends are accustomed to Dutch treat at restaurant parties, you're in luck. Otherwise, custom and etiquette both dictate that if you do the inviting, you also do the paying.
Although the logistics can be a nightmare when you are the middle man, dealing with guests on one end and a third-party vendor on the other, restaurant parties are relatively easy to throw. Guests will have attended a number of such events and for the most part, will understand what is expected of them. They'll come prepared with a gift for the honoree, as well as the occasional bottle of wine.

Appropriate occasions for restaurant or bar parties include birthdays, anniversaries, bon voyage/farewell, retirement, holiday gift exchange, club or sorority/fraternity reunions, and other occasions for which the guest list is fewer than 50 people.

Finding one restaurant that will accommodate all your guests' requirements can be tricky. In addition to allowing for different appetites and dietary restrictions, you also want to ensure that you pick a place whose cuisine and atmosphere everyone will enjoy. Brainstorm a few different places, and then run them by the guest of honor or a few close friends that will be attending. That way, if a guest complains about venue or the menu, you'll at least know you tried your best to find a place that would suit others.

Who Pays?
Before you plan a restaurant party, think carefully about how you intend to handle the bill. Emily Post gently insists that the person hosting the party pays for everything. In keeping with this rule of etiquette, if you can't afford to pay for your guests' meal, you cannot give a restaurant party.

This rule is suspended for "co-op" parties, which are generally more casual and involve friends or co-workers celebrating a shower, life milestone, work-related event, or bon voyage. If you are co-hosting such a party and it is being held at a restaurant or bar, your guests will know they will be paying their own way. However, the host(s) will need to be prepared to cover any check shortages.

Finally, consider what precedents have been set within your group at previous restaurant events. Some groups are accustomed to splitting the check at hosted restaurant parties, paying for their own dinner, as well as a portion of the guest of honor's meal, especially at restaurant birthday parties. Other groups are accustomed to the host footing the entire bill, including tip and drinks. In some cases, the host pays for the entire bar tab; in others, everyone pays for his own drinks.

To simplify logistics and lower your bill, ask the restaurant if it can arrange a prix fixe menu. By fixing the price of dinners, your guests will automatically receive an appetizer or salad and a dessert, with up to three options for a main course, and you can better control the cost of the event.

Next: Page 4 >>

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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