Hosting parties, of any size, isn’t for everyone. let alone parties for 20 plus guests. And, even for those of us that love it, it sometimes gets to be too much if we’re not careful. So how do you go about doing it without breaking the bank and ensure the guests have a good time? Read on for tips.
When hosting for a person (bridal or baby shower, birthday, anniversary, etc.) the most important tip is to listen to what the guest(s) of honour would like. In the case of the event I hosted last weekend, with my bestie helping me out, the bride-to-be was very specific in managing dollars spent by guests, keeping it casual, and having some fun with a boozy brunch theme.
To conquer the bride’s (reasonable) requests we held the brunch at my home (because getting a reservation for 20 plus people for brunch in Vancouver is long shot to start with), asked each guest to contribute a nominal amount for a gift box to spoil the bride (such a good gift to spoil anyone! you can find these gift boxes from Old Joy here), and also asked the guests to each bring a bottle of either bubbles or Rosé wine. Any leftover wine was gifted to the bride and her man.
My second most important tip is to make sure the guest list is a solid mix of people. Strangers hopefully. You want people to interact at these events and get to know each other. This makes partying at the wedding a lot more likely and fun for all the guests. For this event, all worlds for the bride combined. Long term junior high friends to recent yoga buddies, everyone got to know each other, laugh, and have a few fun silly moments.
Make life easy on yourself as the host. Ask people to contribute, like we did with the wine. If your expertise lies in the drinks, have guests bring a dish each (assign types of dishes so you don’t end up with multiple versions of bean salad). Manage what you make from scratch. I made three different salads to accommodate all diets (there were a couple of vegans in the house). We also purchased bagels, cream cheese, and accoutrements that allowed the guests to “build” their brunch. The hot ticket item was the Cherry, Mint, and Pistachio Salad from The Picnic cookbook. A combo you wouldn’t normally make, but this was the top and most delicious dish. This meant one night of pitting 2 lbs of cherries though. Most efficient way to this can be found here (you know you want a use for those random chopsticks and empty wine bottle).
The star of our brunch was this gorgeous and delicious cake made by my talented friend Nikki. You can reach her through email at email@example.com. I asked for a naked layer cake, a bit more casual than the usual cake for these types of events, and for some flowers to match the bride’s wedding flowers (succulents, blush colour, etc.). It was a brilliant success! Nikki did an amazing job. Everyone loved the lemon buttercream flavour and it was a truly stunning cake.
Find the sweet spot between creativity, fun, and the workload demanded with hosting a party. I asked one of the bridesmaids to help with planning a game and to help figure out transportation for the bride. This took a large amount off mine and my co-host’s workload to focus on other details. Fun details like picking a signature cocktail for the event. A French 75 was my last cocktail obsession before I got pregnant and I was happy to share that joy with the guests through some chalkboard play on a slate placemat.
As for budgeting, things can be fitting without being expensive. The thank you gifts were a steal of a deal. Thank you gifts are not required, but I’ve recently discovered I’m much more of a traditionalist than I thought. I had to assemble the flowers and treats myself, but it was fun for me and most guests seemed to appreciate it. The flowers were a causal addition and the treats were a shout out to the bride’s tastes and our mutual love of Tuti-fruti Jelly Bellies. All this for about $35 for 24 people. I also made two different flavoured waters; much more cost efficient and healthier than soda.
Now, this event wasn’t without stress for me and I am tired from it. Being 6 months pregnant and having 22 month old twins made for a lot of work for me last week. I’m still trying to catch up on other life priorities that got paused. And that’s what life is for me right now. One day and one thing at a time where I’m trying my best. It was also a lot for my husband to take on. He was definitely at the table with me pitting cherries when my lower back started to scream. We watched a lot of horrible Netflix during the cherry pitting session 😉
All those bits make the event what it was. A way for me to have fun with the people I love and to show the beautiful bride-to-be my love for her and her future with her man.
The best way to ensure an event goes off without a hitch is to honour and celebrate your loved ones. Everything else can take a backseat as far as I’m concerned. Here’s to you Lindsay and Darren! May your future together hold everything you ever wanted and all the marvellous surprises you never could have imagined possible.
Enjoy your next party friends! Cheers!