The Super Bowl is one of the most oft-hosted parties at home. Some people love to watch the big game at a sports bar, but plenty more get together with friends and family and watch the big game huddled around the big TV. It’s also one of those parties where some people will just not care at all about the details (read: men and hardcore female football fans), especially if the game doesn’t go your way.
The interwebs are full of fun and cutesy ideas for Super Bowl parties. But before you spend all week googling “chevron + football” and try to make burlap referee stripes happen, consider your guests. If your guests are predominantly male and/or actually care about the game, feel free to scale back, because no one will notice your fun details. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything, just add one or two fun details, not a full-scale themed affair. Now, if you are hosting a lot of non-football fans (um, who’s playing again?), feel free to add more fun details, perhaps even some extra-game entertainment.
I spent last week in Boston at PCMA’s Convening Leaders, a conference for meeting and event planners. There were 4,000 meeting and event professionals in attendance, over half of them were planners. Can you say pressure? Your audience is full of people who are going to scrutinize every detail. I had a great time in Boston and overall thought Convening Leaders was a great conference. I found tons of ideas that I can’t wait to implement into my own events. While the educational sessions are why most people come to Convening Leaders each year, I wanted to share some of the small details and ideas that I gleaned while there.
#5 – Lamps as branding opportunities
Like most normal people, I love fondue. I especially love cheese fondue and chocolate fondue – which is interesting because I don’t normally LOVE cheese or chocolate (I know – I’m strange). But both cheese and chocolate fondue are the best possibly forms of themselves – I love delicious, hot, melty cheese and the same goes for lovely, flavorful, melted chocolate. Chocolate fountains were all the rage for a while but they tend to be messy. Restaurants like The Melting Pot are usually pretty popular, despite the high price tag (every time the local one runs a Groupon deal they sell out almost immediately!). So whether you think fondues are stuck in the 70s or are a reemerging trend, or somewhere in between, why not try fondue at your next dinner party? Here are a few suggestions to make sure your fondue doesn’t turn into a fon-don’t (eye roll!).
To start, I recommend only doing either cheese fondue or chocolate fondue. You can certainly have an entire fondue meal and cook meat and vegetables in a broth (which is the main course at fondue restaurants like The Melting Pot). I might try this with just my husband and I, but I’m not about to try that with other guests. You never want people eating undercooked meats and getting sick, so I think I might leave that up to the professionals.
As I’ve mentioned previously, office holiday parties have a bad reputation. They are either terribly boring or so boozy that it’s an HR nightmare. If you have any pride as a planner at all, you will try a little harder this year and try to prevent both scenarios. While we are well into December and many holiday parties are already planned, here are some suggestions you can try to work in at the last minute, or just start taking notes for next year.
Order more food than you think you need
Food is where most parties try to skimp and the result is a bunch of super-drunk employees who haven’t had enough to eat. That’s not to say that by providing food that people won’t still overindulge, but at least they won’t just be getting tipsy because of drinking on an empty stomach.
Think about the makeup of your employees. If your group is heavily male, order more. Especially if they are youngish and male. (Sorry to stereotype but it’s true). Do you have interns that will attend the party (you should probably rethink that if you do)? Triple or quadruple your food order. Interns that are either unpaid or underpaid will consume “free” food at an incredible high rate.
There are often so many options of venues for your event, especially in a large city like Washington, DC or New York. There are different types of venues that are ideal for certain events. There are certain kinds of events that are ideal for a restaurant.
Now, when I refer to a restaurant, I mean just a restaurant. A restaurant that might have a private room, but that isn’t a banquet facility.
The difference between a restaurant and a hotel or banquet facility is how they make money. A restaurant makes money through casual diners. A hotel or banquet facility makes money through events (at least the catering department of a hotel – let’s not worry about all the other revenue streams for hotels, such as on-site restaurants, sleeping rooms, etc.). If a restaurant primarily makes money through casual diners, they need to make sure if they are giving part of the restaurant to a private event, that they are making as much money with the event as they would if they just had regular diners in that space.
Welcome to week four of Friday Favorites! Believe it or not, there’s no alternative wedding cake this week….
#5 – Custom Yankee Candles
Candles are a pretty popular wedding and event favor, but you can step it up a notch by personalizing it, either by a custom label or a custom photo label! You can put your face on a candle! If that appeals to you, there is more information here. For most products there is a three piece minimum to order. This could be fun for baby showers, bridal showers, bridesmaid gifts, or anything really. What a fun idea!
Like most event planners, I’m an over-doer. I go above and beyond, even when I don’t need to. I find that people who love to entertain are often the same – we stress about having enough hors d’oeuvres for our dinner parties and end up with leftovers for weeks.
Case in point: last week I was asked to pull together a quick ice cream sundae bar for a meeting. Most people think, ice cream, chocolate syrup, maybe sprinkles and M&Ms? I brought out a display of toppings that included fresh berries, crushed oreos and waffle cones, candy and three types of sauce (chocolate, caramel and strawberry). Did I overdo it? You betcha.
I’m the same at home – I want to overdo. This isn’t the same as not editing your ideas – this is just about deciding when to overdo. I will go above and beyond for a client but do I need to go above and beyond for friends and family? I want to, but often the price is too high – I miss out on the conversation and fellowship which is the very reason I hosted people in my home.
I was reading an article in Real Simple on backyard entertaining last month which featured David Stark, the great event designer. He said that it was okay to keep it simple, that “The second you start doing things that become too involved, you become the caterer, not the host.” So wise!
I know that my penchant for overdoing is not easily overcome, but I try to compensate by doing as much as possible before my guests arrive. I have a stash of recipes that are perfect for making the night before if I’m having friends over for dinner after work. I prefer to host parties on Saturday evenings rather than Fridays so I have the afternoon to prepare. I try to be realistic (keyword: try) regarding what I can actually accomplish. And I have resigned myself to dishes piling up and a huge cleanup after the last guests leave, I’d rather be sitting with my guests and a glass of wine rather than washing dishes as I go.
What are your tricks for entertaining at home and keeping it simple?
Photo via Alice Q. Foodie