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6 Tips for Planning an Epic Dinner Party🎀

Kiylise's BdayDinner

So as I've entered this new chapter of 30, I thought it was only right to share all of my wonderful success in planning and celebrating. This has truly been a milestone and as I began planning a series of events which included a vacation to the Dominican Republic, an epic dinner party, a social gathering at my favorite lounge, seafood night and a girls trip to my alma mater for homecoming....whew! it's been a lot...I wanted to share my top takeaways from planning my epic dinner party to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was more than I imagined and so worth the journey. So here are 6 takeaways that helped my event be as phenomenal as it was.

1.Start Planning Early- I know 6 months seems like its so far away but beginning to plan 6-8 months in advance will be a life saver for you and your budget. I began looking for venues in January, my birthday is in September. I was able to search around and visit multiple places. If I disliked one, I still had lots of time to try again. It was so worth it. Even after I thought I found what I wanted (24Grille), I wasn't quite in love with it so I continued looking until I stumbled upon perfection (JMac). Not only is finding the perfect venue important, you have to start early and know your vision. I knew exactly what I wanted...Kate Spade inspired dinner party. I began planning early on for my special night.

2.Shop & Stash - It's your party and you know your VISION. Don't be afraid to begin buying decorations and other items as soon as possible even if you don't have all the details locked in. The very first thing I purchased for my dinner party was my cake topper. I felt so accomplished though, like my party is really happening because I'm not wasting my money LOL. I didn't even have a venue yet but no matter where I decided to host, I knew what would be on top of my cake. Over the course of the 6-8 months I began planning, I purchased things along the way. I purchased fancy straws and garland, cups and napkins and other decorative items. This cuts down on the burden of having a huge expense all at once. It also gives you the opportunity to find specific items, like my beautiful cake stand. That didn't just magically appear, I did my research and visited about 4 different HomeGoods to find it. I couldn't even imagine trying to purchase all of those items in one weekend. Your special day is all about the details so spend time securing them.

3. Get Inspired- We all know that Pinterest is life, so utilize it. I had my vision of what I wanted (Kate Spade Inspired) but I used Pinterest to take my vision to the next level. After pricing centerpieces and florals and finding that its such a huge expense, I turned to Pinterest and decided to do my own floral centerpieces. I cut my own flowers, painted vases, the whole nine. I also created an amazing self service open bar including all the trimmings. I got this idea from Pinterest as well. I was able to purchase glasses, bar tools, mixers, etc., I even decided to do 2 signature drinks and got my recipes from Pinterest. The Flirty 30 and Dirty 30 drinks were bomb! I created all of the table signage such as the food menu, Snapchat filter sign and drink recipe signs. Know your vision but do your research to get inspired and vamp it up.

4. People Matter- Because I regularly plan events, this whole process was easy for me and very organized, down to the diagram I created of the space for setup. My challenge is giving up that control. We all want our stuff to be perfect and often times we don't trust a soul with our visions but a word of advice, JUST DO IT. I decided to hire an Event Coordinator to handle my Day-Of Duties. She was amazing and more than I ever expected. As I focused on getting glammed up, I allowed her to add her own input during setup and add some final touches to my event. I had no complaints at all and decided to pay her more than our original contractual agreement. I was just thoroughly impressed with how she catered to my guests and fit right into the party as if I'd known her for years . I also hired an amazing photographer (duh, have you seen my photos) who came and really captured my special night. Good vendors are so key. Linens, Venue, Catering, Bakery, everything has to be on point. I was able to sit back and actually enjoy my party with my friends. I'm telling you it was the best birthday I've ever had.

5. Sh*t Happens. Expect a few mishaps. Flat out. Don't think this whole party planning process is gonna be peaches and roses. There will be a few thorns. If you prepare in advance with alternative plans to every detail, you'll come out winning. I definitely didn't expect for the chick who was doing my strawberries to bail on me or for my cake to shift while in transit to the venue. I didn't plan for the limit of alcohol in Canada to be 1 bottle per person when I was prepared to buy 6 or for an entire box of decorations to be left at home. Life happens and you have to master the art of improvisation. Screw strawberries, in addition to my cake, I added macaroons, cookies and cupcakes. When the bow on my cake fell against the box, I took the bow off and placed it on the opposite side of the cake. When the Canada duty free thing occurred, I changed my drink menu and had signature drinks. I was able to fill in the blanks and still have a fabulous event and guess what, y'all didn't know any of that stuff until now. Life happens people but don't let it get in the way of your joy!

6. Last but not least, BE PRESENT and ENJOY your event! Stop cleaning, stop worrying, stop setting up. Be there, be the guest of honor and enjoy your friends, your food and your special day.

Things to Do

  • Envision the vision

  • Do your research

  • Create a Timeline

  • Create a Task List

  • Begin planning 6-8 months in advance

  • Shop over time

  • Have backup plans to various ideas

  • Allow qualified people to Help

  • Have expectations

  • Execute!

Until next time,

Peace & Sweet Dreaming,

Kiylise Crutchfield, Chief Dream Engineer


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