Monday, February 24, 2014

The Art of Attending an Event Planner's Party {Part One}

It's a scary thought- actually pressing "Publish" on this post- maybe more so that any other one I've ever written! I've had the idea for this entry for quite some time and while I feel there is probably never going to be the *perfect* time for me to put it out there (as a mom who throws real parties)- here's to hoping this time frame is better than publishing it the week after one of my kid's parties? The truth is- a lot of these things haven't even happened to me directly- really! But I'm in a community with so many other party & event planners that at this point if I'm going to go for it- I feel like I have to share for all of us...

Party Planner aside- obviously no mom wants to make their guests feel like they can't just attend their party like every other normal party... This is true, I want guests to feel at ease and have a blast.

However...what is also true- and this may be a total contradiction- is that it isn't in fact any other "normal party".

You know it, I know- if your kid's have attended previous parties- they know it. And if you don't know it- the invitation will usually always clue you in. A party planner prides herself on the snail mail invite and glitter is usually involved.

There have been weeks (mainly Party Week) where I have dreamed of throwing the Normal Party... Days I wish I could take a break and be Mellow Party Mom for one party in my life. That care-free spirit of a woman who texts people the party info a week before the party. She puts chips and dip out and serves water with lemon. She places the candle in the middle of her self-frosted cupcake, hands it to her child and helps get the "Happy Birthday" song going, complete with "And many more, on Channel 4...". Oh, to be her- my idol at 2am the night before a big party.

Bless it.

But, of course... that will never happen. The elusive "Normal Party" is fleeting in my mind. I have tried- and failed, many times. My attempt at a normal party for Cormac's 3rd Birthday Yo Gabba Gabba Party is pretty much what launched me in to this business, unbeknownst to ever knowing I wanted to be an actual Party Planner. This was before I knew about dessert tables or backdrops or "linens"... Before I knew about anything party-related really... Anything other than spending copious amounts of time on things most people wouldn't notice. Which I'm actually totally fine with now, really. I have gotten to a place where I very much realize the details are for me and my fellow Party People (you know who you are!). In the same way a lot of woman dress "cute" to impress other woman- I do things like wrap napkins in dyed doilies and ric-rack bows- for other party planners.

In my year of blogging I've deemed myself as kind of the party planner who says what most other party planners are thinking... It's a tough role to fill at times, ain't that the truth!?

In an effort to not piss off every past party guest of mine, I am going to try and carefully broach this subject. But we all know I am not known for being exactly... errrr, gentle- per say... So, I will probably still offend every guest I've ever invited (and maybe even cut my numbers in half so I have more of a décor budget at the next party- oh c'mon, kidding!)

And while yes, I am kind of writing this on behalf of party planners... I'd also say these suggestions apply really well across the board- when invited to ANY party. So if you don't ever think you'll attend a party planner's function- don't think you're off the hook!

In the title of this post I very carefully used the words, "Art of Attending" vs. "Rules of Attending" because I'm offering these up as more of, well let's see... Suggestions? Strong, strong suggestions.

Shall we begin? Let's start with...


You've checked the mail and stumbled upon something non-bill like with a carefully placed festive sticker on it, or perhaps a stamp or two to clue you in to some sort of theme coming your way. You're happy with this joyous piece of mail- and you know your kids will enjoy it as well.

Birdie's 1st Birthday Party

You open it. Your kid's note the theme and you quickly note the date, time and location. You get on your phone, or look at your real-life calendar to see if you're available.



Most party planners give a generous 3 weeks to a month's notice which should give you some flexibility in deciding if the day of the party is a going to be a good fit for you. If it isn't- a NO is a perfectly acceptable answer, because.... WAIT FOR IT, it's an answer. And amen to answers. Promptly texting, emailing or plain ol' fashioned calling the host to let them know that unfortunately the party isn't in the cards would be SO greatly appreciated. A NO helps us know we don't need to worry about adding your child to our favor, food, dessert and chair head count.

I have some more crazy news I'm about to share. A MAYBE is also an answer. Giving the hostess a heads up that you have other plans as well that day (soccer game, another party, WHATEVER) but that you're going to try your best to make it to the party- is a perfectly good enough response in my opinion. This let's us know we should probably have a backup favor and cupcake just in case maybe-child can swing by after all. A party planner's worst nightmare is a kid showing up to find no customized favor bejeweled with their name on it. I choke up just thinking about it.

Well, now it's about to get wild, because coming at you is some EXTRA crazy news. A YES answer- though exciting- also needs to be communicated to the hostess. Do not assume because your son is besties with the birthday boy that the hostess innately knows you're going to make it. A quick little text, "We'd love to attend!" is perfect- even more perfect if it's timely- as in, not the night before the party.

If you RSVP as a yes- unless of course sickness strikes or an emergency arises- be a YES. Don't suddenly the day of say, "We were just so tired from yesterday's crazy schedule so we decided to stay home!" At least lie to me about a sickness, k?

Let me confess something to you. This past January- for my son's 5th birthday party, I didn't even put an RSVP on the invite. That's how defeated I feel by the RSVP. I resorted to straight cold-texting people asking them if they were going to be able to make it- which is just plain weird.

In conclusion- we're all busy. No one should be so busy they can't communicate even a Maybe answer.

Cute planner from Etsy... Just a thought!

Look- I get it. 6ish years ago I wasn't invited to my friend's daughter's 1st birthday party. AND I STILL REMEMBER IT. I was her- um, briiiiidesmaid?! I know first hand that a no-invite can sting.

I also now totally get it. You just plain can't invite everyone- as much as you may want to!

So, in the event the invite does not make it to your mailbox- please for the sake of all that is good and holy- do not go on social media and leave comments like, "Guess my invite got lost in the mail!" on party photos or status' about said party. It's just awkward. If your child didn't get an invite- seriously ask yourself these questions before getting offended, "Is my child [still] a close friend of the birthday boy/girl? Do they play together often?"

Be gracious- I have had to learn this myself big time. Like every mom- a party planner closely calculates numbers, costs and space and because of the level of detail going in to the party- probably even more so.

I hate the fact that we will always inevitably leave people out but the bottom line is that it's not realistic to invite every child your kid has ever known, until we move in to the MPM Mansion, that is.


Look- being late to any party is tacky... Not just a party planner's. But with the right excuse, like being caught off guard by traffic, a toddler meltdown, etc. most hostesses will totally get it. We're moms, and for the most part fairly reasonable women. However, please try to be on time- like within the first 30 minutes. We've been planning this party for way too long to publicly acknowledge and there's this thing called a timeline we'd like to somewhat maintain. Is that too much to ask?

On the same note- do not show up early. Or if you do- be prepared to get put to work- which I hate doing to guests, but it inevitably WILL HAPPEN. Trust me when I say that no party planner is ever sitting around 25 minutes before a party saying, "I wish my guests would hurry up and get here already!" NO. We're sweating, tired, hungry... it ain't pretty. Give us until the specified start time unless you want to witness: Birthdayzilla, a ferocious beast of an animal no party guest should have to experience.

Ok, so there you have it- the first half of the post. Now if you were even slightly offended by that, I'd highly recommend you pretend like PART TWO doesn't exist.

xo Party or Die xo


  1. LOVE IT!!!! It's amazing how I can relate to everything you've just posted... Started the biz for my daughter's 2nd bday and I've never heard it in my face, but I'm THAT mom. Thanks for sharing what I'm sure most of us party people are thinking :) Can't wait for part 2!

  2. I am laughing my ass off. I've been planning weddings and events for 13 years now and it's gotten worse over the years. Especially now that I plan my own daughter's (6 yrs old now) parties. Love. this.

  3. Some great tips here. I was surprised that most party planners send out invitations 3 weeks to a month ahead of time. If I did this, My guests would forget all about the party because it's too far in advance. I personally dislike the Maybe RSVP. Either you can come or you can't. I've had too many parties where I've spent money on the Maybes and they never show. Not RSVPing and showing up super late are huge pet peeves of mine. I've had guests show up just as everyone was leaving and say "where is every one?" Really !? The party started 3 hrs ago and you wonder why everyone's left and I'm cleaning up. Can't wait to read Part 2 tips.

  4. Take my hat off to you_so true, all of it! The RSVP's kill me! As a party planner can totally relate to those "little extras" that tend to cost the earth but are MUST haves as it just completes "that look I was going for" and then the last minute can we come past we available now!! Look forward to part 2!

  5. This is all so, so true. Aside from me being a (neurotically crazy) party planner, I would just like people to provide me with the same common courtesy as I do them.....especially when it comes to the whole RSVP thing. If the invites go to someone I know and they don't reply and I have to hunt them down.....I will! LOL

  6. Even as someone who throws “normal parties,” I can still totally relate. Hello! I need to know how many funfetti cupcakes to bake. Haha but really. You crack me up as always. Looking forward to part 2.

  7. Great post Kenna! I'm not able to throw a "normal" party either! I guess it's all about what interests us. I get excited walking down the entertainment dishes aisle at TJ Maxx and HomeGoods, some girls get that same thrill when purchasing a gun safe online, I suppose... I'm sure I get some eye rolls, but I don't mind. I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible industry pros (Party People) that make my events look good while giving me the wonderful role of host and photographer. I just have to make the mad dash to photograph all of the details in the short period between party setup completion and the devouring of the table setups! I work good under pressure though and I love capturing the details, I just can't seem to pull the party itself together how I'd like on my own!

  8. Ok, even if you're NOT a party planner and you're not hosting the most incredible party of the world, in my life I learned the to RSVP and to not arrive late it's a matter of GOOD MANNERS.
    Even if you invite somebody for a coffee or for any occasion it is polite to arrive at the time you were invited and to answer to that invitation.
    I'm sorry Kenna, but it is not because somebody is more or less of a party freak or anything. It's being polite and RESPECTFUL for the person that really wants to share an important day like your kid's bday with you.
    Sometimes we forget that. Being part of a celebration is important and anybody invited should feel happy and honored. Lately the invitations are becoming more "if he invited me then I HAVE to invite him and blablabla!":

    You wrote an amazing post. You are the sweetest person I do not know in person (LOL) and being able to write that just means that you CARE. You care for your kids, for your friends and that you are human (thanks God!) because you feel bad if not invited to a party or if somebody FORGOT to rsvp meaning he maybe doesn't care??. Cmon people! Life is busy, we all are busy persons but to rsvp or to TRY to arrive at the party on time and smile and is not a big commitment.
    Parties are made to be fun, to stay together with friends, to be happy.

    (sorry for the long and probably confusing post)

  9. Love your post! Straight forward and HONEST. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I am going to be perfectly honest crack me the hell up! LOL I love your straight forward, classy honesty.

  11. Truer words have never been spoken! Great Post!

  12. Great job and amen! Love your honesty and your humor ;)

  13. As usual, you speak to my heart, right down to the Gabba Gabba party (except my little guy was 2 lol), that's where it all started for me too!! Major kudos to you for saying what so many of us wish we could say, and so true that we do it for each other more than anyone else!! This by far had to be my favorite part... "and maybe even cut my numbers in half so I have more of a décor budget at the next party- oh c'mon, kidding!" I was laughing hysterically, my sentiments exactly!! Can't wait for part two!!

  14. This is so on point. RSVP is a common courtesy, and if you cannot bother to say "yes" or "no" the person who extended the invitation was too kind in my opinion. Arriving early to any event more than a few minutes is really unnecessary. Remember, most running around is at the last second, putting things away and making sure it's 100% before people arrive. I want my guests to walk into it complete, not 15 minutes to showtime.

    On another note - as another mom, and planner, be present during the party. Don't hole yourself in a corner and talk to all the other moms the entire time. Watch your child, and assist them in the activities. Offer your hand to help. The host has more to do than to watch your wild child run around and corral them back to the group. This, again, is a common courtesy and can go such a long way!

  15. Someone had to say it! Pretty much all of that resonated with me… from the paper invites with glitter all the way down to "do not show up early"! Thanks for being so authentic and honest in your posts.

  16. Omg, you are in my soul!! Lolol, I've never laughed so hard or felt more normal. Can't wait for Wednesday!!!

  17. Is it Wednesday yet..?? LoL :p Can't wait!!

  18. Superb ! Your blog is incredible. I am delighted with it. Thanks for sharing with me.

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  20. Nice ideas! The wall hangings are amazing. I am going to try them out for one of my party.
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