3 Guest list. When on a budget, exclusivity is the key word. Don’t invite more than 15 guests, as you have to feed and entertain them all. Where possible, avoid high maintenance guests as they have a habit of trying to steal the show.
4 Menu. Choosing an appropriate menu can really lift an evening. Food can help bring people together and, in some instances, be an ice breaker. Plan your courses carefully, don’t go beyond your means and consider dietary preferences. Alternatively, inviting your guests to bring certain courses saves you ruining your manicure.
5 Music. You need a soundtrack to your party. Make a playlist before the bash, ensure it is on track with your overall theme and consider the age group of guests.
6 Invitations. This is the first taster of what is to come, so make sure it oozes your style and the feel of the event. The invitation should make the invitee feel privileged, intrigued and excited. Many stores stock invitations, but there are also online options or even handmade cards done by yours truly. Allow enough time before the event – usually 14 to 21 days – have an RSVP and send a courtesy reminder four days beforehand.
7 Decorations. These are the final touch that can really set the event apart. If it’s a dinner party, don’t forget name cards and centrepieces; if it’s a themed party, use decorations to create an impact. Whatever you do, make it impressive, glitzy and memorable. Advice for first-timers… Don’t leave anything to the last minute! Also, the final ten percent to every party is you, the host. The host has the power to make or break an event. Here are a few tips. 1 Be on time. If it’s a venue party, make sure you are there before anybody else. There is nothing worse than having a guest arrive to no reception. If you’re having the party at home, don’t think it’s an excuse to be more relaxed.
2 Have an agenda and checklist for the night. It will keep you on track and, more importantly, keep you calm.
3 Know your guests’ dietary requirements. Also consider your smoking and non-smoking guests, and make allowances for both.
4 Guests will look to you to set the tone. No matter how flustered you may feel, emit an air of calm and enjoyment. If you look stressed the crowd will pick up on it.
5 Greet each guest by name. And use their name throughout the event. Introduce people with a couple of noteworthy facts about the individual – this will give them something to talk about so you can slip away and attend to others.
6 Always be prepared. An extra guest could always show up – as could fewer guests than you expected.
Parties on a budget
When watching the costs there are plenty of little cheats to keep spend to a minimum.
1. Have the party at home. Apart from venues usually costing more, you also incur cleaning services and food costs at retail prices.
2. Cater yourself. It will add a personal touch without adding to the bill.
3. BYOB. That’s right, bring your own bottle – it’s quite acceptable to ask your guests to bring a bottle of their preferred tipple.
4. Sharing is caring. You can theme your party as a potluck party. We always find this a fabulous way to get guests involved and create multiple talking points. Just ask people what they’re bringing so you can coordinate and reduce repeat dishes.
5. Dress your space yourself. Balloons, streamers and place cards are all easy to find and cheap to buy. And remember, less is often more.
Staying stress free
• Keep it simple. The simplest of ideas are often the most powerful.
• Plan, plan, plan. Parties often take more time to organise than you’d expect, so factor this in. Compare prices and shop around. Vendors are sometimes willing to negotiate if you appear knowledgeable about the product.
• Get crafty. Use outside influences for inspiration and then do it yourself. From decorations to invitations, canapés to entertainment, when you do it ‘à la moi’ it not only saves money, but also adds an invaluable personal touch.
• Focus on trends. Suppliers are at the forefront of the latest trends, so ask them. Not only will you get an insight into what is fashionable now, but they will often give great tips and advice.
• Ask for a discount. It often works. Dubai is still a city built on the bartering system and many independent businesses would rather negotiate than lose your trade.
• Make it personal. Put your stamp on all that you do. Personalising the event will leave people talking.
Party etiquette for guests
• Don’t upstage the host or hostess. Your contribution is a sign of your appreciation, not a showcase for your own talents.
• Be on time. For formal events, the golden rule is arriving within 15 minutes of the stated time. For informal events, you can push it to 30 minutes.
• Always make an effort. There is an art to greetings and farewells that go beyond a simple ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. Find and greet the host within the first ten minutes of your arrival. Compliment them, thank them for inviting you and ask if there is anything you can do to help. Again, when leaving ensure you say goodbye to the host and thank them. And don’t forget to say farewell to other guests of note, lest you appear standoffish.
• Never show up empty handed. Always bring a token of appreciation for the host. If it’s a themed party, tailor it to the genre. Add a little note to your present, otherwise it could get lost or, even worse, accredited to another partygoer!