|Get This Party Started! (New Straits Times, 2 Disember 2010)|
Mention parties, vivid images of fun and entertainment instantly pop into our minds. To make that dream of the perfect party a reality, Ellene Fadzillah Ahmad of Party Friends is here to help out. The former civil engineer founded Party Friends, a party planning venture in 1993. Her personality definitely reflected the spirit of parties: fun and outgoing.
"Party planning is fun," says Ellene. Many people think party planning is stressful and costly but when it's done right, you could plan the perfect party that is stress free within a reasonable budget.
Ellene feels that teens should organise parties by themselves instead of depending on party planners. "It's more fun when you do it yourself!" she exclaimed enthusiastically.
Teens rarely have large scale celebrations, which are more popular with the younger ones. They prefer a day out with a few close friends, just to watch a movie and do some window shopping rather than having a grand celebration where half of the guests hardly know each other.
She believes planning a party would be a useful experience for teens as they learn how to improve their social connections through parties. Planning parties at home may lead to planning events at school on a much larger scale, with party planning becoming a stepping stone of sorts.
So, how should teens go about organising the perfect party?
First, set a budget. This would prevent the overspending that tends to happen when do-it-yourself parties are planned. Discuss this with your parents as you wouldn't want to get into financial troubles (i.e. no allowance for the year). Budgets should include expenses for the venue, food and door gifts.
Next, decide on a venue. Having parties at clubhouses is a trend now as it's cheaper than having it at hotels. Most teens prefer to have a more private and personal gathering at home. However, having parties at home presents several things to consider, like who's preparing the food, the number of people that you can invite (unless you live in a Disney castle) and, of course, you may have to be less adventurous with the party theme as decoration would be required to "dress your house up".
Once that's done, decide on a theme. According to Ellene, popular teen party themes include Hollywood and Halloween. However, do not limit your creativity when you decide on this. "Don't do something that you don't enjoy, although everyone else may like it. For example, don't do a vampire-themed party when you can't stand the sight of a Twilight poster. Work on how the selected theme is to be incorporated into the party. Some themes require you to go full blast on decoration and some require props to spruce up the party."
"Once a theme has been determined, the story starts from the invite. The invites can be designed and printed while handmade invites never lose their charm."
To send out those valuable invites, you'll need a guest list. "Never tell your guests they can bring as many people as you like." says Ellene. This makes it hard to anticipate the number of guests, making the planning process tougher for the host.
Ellene recommends starting discussions about two months before the party to ensure everything is well planned out. Ask your friends for suggestions as these people would be the ones enjoying the party with you. So it's best that you consider their ideas of fun in your plans.
Nobody wants to be in a party where they feel identical, just like everyone else. Here, personalisation is the key, especially when the number of guests is small. Individual name cards that fit the theme and handmade menus at each guest's designated seat makes guests feel special. Other decorations like tablecloths and centrepieces can be used to reflect the theme of the party. You could also hand out gifts to your guests like personalised mementos. Popular mementos include T-shirts, stationery and frames. "It's all in the details," says Ellene.
Everything should be ready about an hour before the party. Most people get extremely nervous before the party, fussing over everything and stressing themselves out. Ellene solves this problem with a simple contraption: a checklist. Doing a final check on all arrangements half an hour before the party should put one's worries to rest.
Once your guests start arriving on the big day, it's your responsibility to be a good host. Ellene acknowledged that being a host is tough. A good host just needs to be prepared for all possibilities such as food not arriving on time or guests not showing up on time. What's important is, from the moment your guests walk in, you should make them feel welcome and comfortable. Food and drinks should be prepared while activities should be planned before the party. Ask your family for help, to take care of food and drinks while you entertain your guests.
Everyone's been to a party where all the games just fall flat, by no fault of the host. What do you do, to prevent this from happening? "Play it by the ear," says Ellene. Whenever a game doesn't seem to be working its magic, move on to the next. Get suggestions from guests and always have a backup plan.
"Teenage parties are very different from children's parties," she says. Teens are mature enough to be actively involved in the planning and preparation before a party. They also know what they want: a party where everyone enjoys themselves as well as being THE party of the year.
Your dream party begins with YOU. Here's to planning the perfect party. Cheers!