Until I became a party magician, I thought that being a good party host just involved passing around Ferrero Rochers to my guests (or Rolos on my budget).
I had no clue as to the skills needed to pull off a party successfully.
Having performed at hundreds of them now though, I think I have a much better idea of what’s involved (and, just for the record, I’ve never been to a party that had a HUGE tray of Ferrero Rochers!).
It seems to me that there are a few key skills that great party planners have developed to give themselves the best chance of success.
These three skills, more than any others, seem to be the difference between having a happy party and one which ends with you crying in the foetal position, ripping out your hair!
You can’t prepare for everything, but that’s no excuse for not doing any preparation at all.
“I’ll just wing it” is never the answer (unless the question is, “What is the one thing you can do that will almost certainly ruin any chance of you hosting a great party?”)
Being organised and prepared isn’t just for the Scouts. Preparation serves as a protector for times when things go wrong (and if you’re expecting every event you ever organise to go smoothly, you’re in for one heck of a shock!).
Preparation involves planning ahead what you’ll do if something doesn’t go to plan.
Being a little bit more organised gives you a few more ‘what if’ solutions, should things go a little awry. It gives you a head start.
You don’t have to go over the top, head off to Amazon to buy a top of the range wireless headset and a clipboard, but you should at least take the time to plan the evening and have a good idea what’s going to happen and when, and what you’ll do for each should they fall flat.
Sure, it’s easy for me to say ‘stay calm’ now when everything is already calm, but it’s something else to say it (and, more importantly, be it) when everything is falling apart – when your ice sculpture is melting into a rather Phallic and non-PG shape with every second that passes.
In the heat of the moment, staying calm is hard, so, if you can’t stay calm, at least try to prevent yourself from going off the deep end and losing it.
When something bad happens, try not to worry. Remember, you can only do what you can do.
If the power cuts out, you could wail, stress and moan, or you could look around for some candles and find the smokers in the group to hold up lighters.
Maybe you’ll get lucky and everything goes to plan – that’s great. The odds are though that, the more parties you plan, the more chance there is of you experiencing a “whoops” moment.
Some of these things will be monumental, some tiny.
Some will be within your control, some not.
Remember, you can only do what you can do. You’re not a miracle worker (I am though because I’m a party magician), so don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t go quite your way.
Maybe it’s a small blip that your guests didn’t notice? Even if they did, what is going make them feel more uncomfortable – the mistake or the fact that you had a meltdown dealing with it?
Stay calm and focus on what you can do to make it better, and then do that.
That really is all you can do.
What’s REALLY important?
All parties are different and have different elements, some more important than others.
A kids birthday party, for example, probably has “entertainer” and “extravagant cake” quite high up on the “must have” list.
For a party for the local arthritic society meeting,
(Especially if you’re still adamant on doing that 4-hour presentation on ‘advanced kneeling techniques’).
Every party is a different beast, so, for each one your plan, ask yourself, “what’s really important for THIS party? “
Not the one you had last week, or next week, but for this one, right now?
You know your friends and guests better than anyone, including that magician who wrote a blog post about party hosting skills.
Don’t lose sight of that.
What’s really important for this party…for these guests…for me?
There is no way to eliminate all of the stress and hassle that comes with planning a party (though booking a decent entertainer/magician comes close!). By focusing on a few key skills – being prepared, staying calm and focusing on what’s REALLY important, you can keep your party on track.
Preparation will help give you the peace of mind that comes with planning what to do if things go wrong.
Staying calm will ensure that you don’t have a meltdown or make bad choices and decisions.
Focusing on what’s really important will help you give your guests a great time, even though it poured it down the entire time. the lights went out and your chicken was undercooked.
Any more party planning skills you think would be useful to a party host? Feel free to pop them in the comments below!
If you fancy an awesome party magician to get your guests laughing and having a fabulous time at your next party, visit my contact page and get in touch!