Party planning: then and now

 

I’ve taken joy in planning parties since I was young. Whether I go the extra mile staying up ’til 2am the night previous building an obstacle course in the back yard to just thinking up a clever event title for Facebook, my prep efforts are always rewarded. Nowadays I plot everything on our fav’ social sharing site, but I used to write list after list in my diary.

Themes

Then:Party-planning-theme-big-kids-18th

 

Theme planning took up at least one whole page in my journal, if not several. Ideal themes lent themselves to a slew of activities, decoration ideas, and costume suggestions, though I frequently chose them by my own whimsy. Did I want my mother to make the carousel cake I saw in American Girl magazine, with animal crackers frosting-glued to straws and a big paper canopy? Time for a circus theme party. Did I want an excuse to build a giant furniture fort in the living room? I’ll make it look like a ship and have a pirate party.

Candyland was the obvious choice for my “Sweet Sixteen” but I have to admit I was most excited about making giant lollipops out of balloons and cellophane.

I read a lot more craft books when I was a kid.

Now:

This part of party planning hasn’t changed much for me. Unless the party is last minute, I put a lot of effort into the theme, as evidenced by the theme notes below. I planned to make buttons that said “I went pinky up for Sami’s 21st.” (Yeah, that didn’t happen. I wasn’t really prepared for how booze can interfere with one’s ability to execute a party. And yes I didn’t really start drinking ’till I was 21.)

Party-planning-theme-British-21stWhat has changed is that I’m less interested in forcing my guests to comply with my bizarre fantasy worlds (though a murder mystery party where I gave guests 7 pages of pre-party prep notes turned out fun) than finding a theme that’s exciting enough for people to actually show up. That’s a lot harder now. Back then I’d invite 15 of my closest friends and all but one of them would make it.

Which brings us to…

Inviting Guests

All guests received a theme-appropriate physical invitation. Jungle Party invites were written with green marker on a cut-out leaf, folded in half with the stem pushed through a slit to close. Casino Royale invites included fake money and confetti. Big Kid Party: Crayon.

Furthermore, guest selection meant creating highly sophisticated and intently coded lists for the most balanced party. Spaces were scarce – my mom had a rule I could only invite as many friends as my age number (though she allowed a couple extras as I got older). I analyzed the potential for groups to form, making sure that no guest would stand alone. I drew lines between guests to represent relationships & friendships. I drew unhappy faces for guests with ongoing fights. See that question mark, John Q? You almost weren’t invited.

Party-planning-guest-list

 

Now:

Click all the faces! But not him because he can’t hold his liquor. And not her because she probably would think it’s weird if I invited her because we’re not really friends in real life although we are facebook friends fuckit she’s cool and attractive I’ll invite her. Ah shoot I better go back around through the faces and make sure I didn’t miss anyone or else I have to awkwardly invite them late to the party. Do you think they’ll notice 20 people are already attending and it’s obvious I forgot them in the first round? Because now almost a week’s gone by and that definitely happened.

Great. I’ve invited 80 people. At least 30 are bound to show, right?

Budget

Then:

Party-planning-inventoryMy mom has a couple hundred bucks to spend! I’m going to get table cloths, crepe streamers, cups, matching napkins, food for everyone, soda, prizes, games, decorations….

Now:

I have a couple hundred bucks to spend! I’m going to get Jameson, Kahlua, vodka, ancient age, Pacifico, wine….

Party Activities

Then:

Party-planning-activities

I scoured the internet / books for inventive party games and adapted them to the party’s theme. For my sweet 16 I wrote strictly types of candy for a game of “heads up charades” (though we didn’t call it that, we called it that one game where you write things on name tags and put it on your forehead/back and try to guess what it is) and enjoyed my friends saying things to each other like, “Am I sticky?” “Do I taste good with chocolate?” Apparently 15-or-16-year-olds will play this game for like 3 hours.

Now:

Drinking!

 

 

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