Ready to party?
Disappeared down a Pinterest party planning rabbit hole and can't find the exit? Read on. Birch Associates Events reveal their secrets to throwing an rocking do.
Ooh I love a good party, Champagne flowing, decorations looking Pinterest perfect and everyone having a stress free time of it, dancing to Club Tropicana in the Berkshire sunshine. Who am I kidding? There’s usually a mad dash for more drinks, the decorations look decidedly naff and I’m slapping on my make up and throwing on a frock that’s, well, clean.
I’m just not one of these people who throws things together and they work out like Great Gatsby-style party masterpieces and it’s not like I have loads of free time at the moment to plan stuff with 2 children, a business and a mid-year sense of exhaustion and inertia (oh, just me?).
So ever the short-term fixer I asked Katie and Sue Birch from Berkshire-based Birch Associates Events to give me their tips on throwing the best parties. Katie and Sue are a Daughter-Mother team (Yup, Katie’s the boss) who will organise anything from a dinner party for 10 and yoga retreats to an elegant wedding and mini festival for 500. You name it they can do it. Want to know their secrets? Here you go then.
Birch Associates Events’ Party Secrets
Money money money
Boring! I hear you cry, let’s get to the fun bit of making it all pretty. But it’s essential you set a budget and have a rough idea of the number of guest – and then have a realistic expectation of what can be achieved. An event planner doesn’t actually cost as much as you think and can in fact save you money. Especially once you take into account that we get the best rates from our Little Black Book of suppliers – all of which we pass on to you. So you could save money, hassle and stress (*Money left over for that Rixo dress! YES*).
Just because you’re settling on a figure to spend doesn’t mean it will all be spent. We recently organised a party and only spent half the budget we were given – and there are no hidden costs, flowers, decor, lighting, food, equipment hire, staff and all the dull bits of paperwork you need are all in black and white. It’s worth nothing you ned to have about 20% of your budget available at the time of booking to pay deposits to suppliers for your event. Then the balances are due 8 weeks before your big day.
The Devil (because he’s there in the detail)
Some of the best parties are themed, so have a think about what you enjoy, whether it’s a certain type of music, films, places that inspire you. The theme can be subtly weaved through all elements of the party, starting with the invites and continuing through to the décor and food. If you’re having a marquee party and opt for a theme, such as James Bond, you can have great fun incorporating the theme into every element of your event from the food & drink (martini’s shaken not stirred, casino, dramatic helicopter exit) to lighting and table decoration (scattered diamonds – fake of course!), or creating a party that Bond himself would be proud to attend.
Don’t have a clue? Don’t panic. We can start with a blank sheet of paper, have a causal natter about the things you love and suggest a theme. It’s also ok to know exactly what you want. It’s our job to then bring your vision (or lack of vision) alive. Once we have the key pieces of information: type of event, venue, budget, numbers, we create a moodboard from the brief and cost everything out.
Pinning is winning
We love Pinterest, it’s a great place to get creative ideas for events. We’re hosting an Open Air Cinema Night and a charity Madhatters’ Ball at Douai Pavillion in Woolhampton later his year, and it’s been brilliant for decor ideas. But a note of caution, Pinterest doesn’t come with a price tag. Yes, Kim Kardashian’s wall of white roses was stunning for her wedding backdrop, but it cost an eye-watering amount of money. That’s not to say, we can’t do something similar, but it is just a question of whether the budget stretches that far. Pin away, edit down the things you love and then we can see if we can work our magic.
Are you being served?
Hiring staff to serve food and drinks will free you up massively. no one wants to dashing around pouring wine all evening. You want to spend time with your guests. Having a signature cocktail is a great talking point and definitely oils the wheels of the party! You’re likely to be having too much of a good time to be thinking about photos so book a photographer for two hours to capture your guests enjoying themselves, or – just as much fun – hire a photo booth. Anything interactive is always a success, so a good magician, paper silhouettist or musicians can also create talking points that last long after your party is over.
If you hire a party planner, like us, they’ll ensure the right number of serving staff and entertainers are where they are needed at the right time. You can disappear down a Google rabbit hole for days researching one detail of your party or frantically looking for people to help out on social media. Stress free, time rich and ready to party.
Rain stops play (not with a plan B)
We hate to say, but you have to plan for bad weather, particularly if you’re having your party outside. A lot of people just hope for the best, but the British weather is so unpredictable the event could be a complete wash out.
Party planners really will save you time and shield you from the stress. They’ll take delivery of everything, set up (and clear up afterwards) trouble shoot any problems, absorb any over-runs and ensure your have all the correct paperwork. We will do anything and everything that is required to pull off the perfect party. In fact it’ll run like clockwork and you’ll barely notice we are there.
We’ve organised so many parties – big and small – and see first hand that a relaxed, happy host pushes that vibe onto his or her guests. Either hire a party planner (like us!), or once you’ve done the hard work, let any feelings of angst go. The party’s started, make sure you’re at it!
I’ll drink to that…
Birch Associate Events: Katie has been party planning with mum Sue since 2016. Sue has a background in corporate events and Katie helped out from the age of 16, before setting off to do a season at Jersey’s Westhill Country Hotel St Hellier, knowing she wanted to start her own hospitality business rather than go to uni. They’re a brilliant double act ,who instinctively know what needs to be done to ensure you party dos off without a hitch. For a free consultation or for some expert advice, get in touch.