Planning the Perfect Party:

The essence of any successful event is really just a simple matter of spending some attention on a few key details. But when properly combined, the perfect setting is created for people to unwind, mingle, & fully enjoy the company of those they engage & the event as a whole.

Of course The Private Pro's will do everything in our power to assure your function is an absolute success. But as a value-added bonus we would like to offer our essential guide to planning the perfect party - a useful resource full of helpful tips & proven insights that will come in handy as you plan your next affair. Key points have been highlighted for quick reference & more easy reading. It’s a must have to ensure a smooth event & an enjoyable evening for all! 

Section Headings:

1. Overall Theme & Guest List.
2. Ambiance: Set-up, Functionality, Lighting, Decor, & Music.
3. The Bar: Set-up, Stocking the Bar, Liquor, Beer, & Wine.
4. Food Service: the Buffet, Pot-luck, a Formal Sit-down, & Safety Issues.
5. Party Supplies & Stocking Up.
6. Some Key Tips & Considerations.
7. Scheduling Your Preparations.
8. Considerations for an Outdoor vs. an Indoor Party.
9. Considerations for an Office Party vs. a Private Party.
10. Special Considerations - Sending Invitations.
11. Special Considerations - Games & Activities.
12. The Private Professionals & How to Best Use Our Service.

Sample Excepts:

General Set-up: Fun flair or a touch of elegance will be a key to creating a sense of ambiance, but overall functionality should not be sacrificed. This means that the buffet should be placed with relative access to the main kitchen. Hot platters moving through a crowded room to reach a buffet is a very bad idea. For a sit down dinner, servers need room to maneuver. Trash cans are also important. Receptacles should be available in both the bar area, near the buffet, as well as in prime common areas where people will gather.

The Bar:

It's important that the bar is set in an area with easy access & preferably convenient to the main areas of congregation (people shouldn't have to break off from the main event every time they want a drink). It’s also important that the buffet is at least somewhat separated from the bar area. And finally, the bar should not be put in the Kitchen! Early in the party the kitchen will serve as a war room for food service. Setting up bar service in the midst of such preparations is a really bad idea. Also, for whatever reason, the party does seem to always end up in the kitchen, & having people mull about can make functional service almost impossible. The only exception to this is if the kitchen has an island or can be set with a dedicated area to be partitioned off.

As to general service, our bartenders are self contained as far as basic equipment: shaker tins, strainers, etc. But there are a few things that the bar itself will need from the host…

First, BE SURE THAT YOU HAVE PLENTY OF ICE!!! It’s a cliché for a reason - you can never have too much ice. First, have enough to ice down the beer, wine, & any bottled water (plan on 2 bags per cooler). You can then estimate about 1 lb. of ice per guest (i.e. for 50 guests, estimate 50 lbs. plus whatever will be needed to ice down beer & wine). This may sound like a lot, but in truth it's a good idea to grab an extra couple of bags just in case. Depending on the drinks served & time of year, you’d be amazed how fast it goes (& lets face it, ice is cheap). When you run out of bullets, the war is over!

If you’ll be having margaritas then have some coarse salt available, & for lemon drops or other shooters some standard sugar is good to have as well. A small bottle of Grenadine is also a plus.

Have plenty of Limes & a few Lemons. Estimating a party of 50, have at least 8-10 limes ready to be cut & about 3-4 lemons. And if you cut the limes yourself, please do so length-wise into wedges & not across the equator into wheels (this makes it easier to squeeze).

Green Olives & Cherries are important as well. One jar of each is enough.

Stocking the Bar: As a rough estimate, you can count on around 2-4 drinks per person. Some will drink wine, some are geared more toward a martini or drink, & others will stick with beer. You need to know your crowd & have an idea as to their preference. However, keep in mind that their habits will generally be different at a private party & often they will tend to drink better. Often, a group will get turned on by a bartender’s specialty drink & before long it will be pouring all night long.

For a full listing of suggestions, please consult the Party Planner...

An Alternative to the Full Bar - Beer & Wine w/ a Martini Bar Only: One possible alternative to the Fully Stocked Bar or to serving only Beer & Wine is to have Beer & Wine w/ the addition of a Specialty Bar. In this type of set-up you’d want to provide probably 2-3 selections of beer & a selection of wines that are conducive to your crowd. Then you’d augment this with a basic stock to make Martinis &/or specialty drinks. 

For this you'd need a good grade of Vodka (perhaps Stoli or Absolute), a bottle of Triple sec (for Cosmo’s, etc.), & a 375ml bottle of dry vermouth. Then you’ll need 1 bottle of sweet & sour mix / sours, cranberry juice, limes, & a couple of lemons. Add in a bottle or two of Looza Mango or Tropical Fruit Juice, & a bottle of Pomegranate Juice. That’s it! You’ll have a fully functional bar in addition to beer & wine, & this will serve as a perfect augmentation to provide some nice alternative that won’t bust your budget!

From this we'll be able to do Martinis, Dirty Martinis, Cosmopolitans, Lemon Drops, Mango, & Pomegranate Martinis (plus beer & wine). If you'd like to add margaritas then just get some tequila & an extra bottle of triple sec. It's also best to get some real cut mango & frozen strawberries in syrup if we're blending drinks. This will give you a full range of added diversity. If you further want to include something like Mojitos, then just add in a good grade of Rum, Mint, & Simple Syrup (reduced sugar water).

Food Service:

The Buffet: A general buffet can be used for food service throughout the evening or used more simply to offer hors d’oeuvres during an initial reception. Feel free to place it in any area that will allow a good flow of traffic, that is generally available to the kitchen, & which will be easily accessed by your guests. Accents such an appropriate center-piece & candles can be a nice touch to provide both warmth & a sense of class.

Overall, it’s a nice element to include a cheese & fruit platter as well as a balanced variety of hot & cold foods as you see fit. Just be sure to allow for hot foods to stay hot & cold foods to stay fresh. For the sake of appearance, desserts are best placed to a separate table (so that after main service the dessert table will still look fresh). This configuration also allows for a coffee bar. An alternative is to wait until after dinner & either reset the buffet or place dessert trays around the party on coffee tables, etc.


Party Supplies & Stocking Up:

The following are only general estimates of the supplies you’ll need. Don’t let yourself get caught short!

Beverage Napkins - 4 per guest for a cocktail party / 2 per guest for a dinner party.

Place settings - 1 full setting per guest for seated dinner / 2 per guest for buffet or cocktails.

Cups (plastic) - 4 per guest. Use the clear plastic glasses for an indoor party (they look better) & the colored cups for an outdoor party (they’re easier to find if tossed about). Also, the shorter ‘V’ type clear plastic cups work very well for wine & martinis. For cocktails, stick with a standard 6-8 oz cup size. However, if you expect to be serving a fair bit of plain soda then also have some 12 oz. cups on hand.

If you’re using actual glassware, be sure you have plenty to go around & that the bar area has ready access to dish washing capabilities. Also make sure your guests know that it might be a good idea to hang on their glasses for refills (unless you’re really well stocked), It's a good idea to also have an extra sleeve of clear plastic cups in case there is some lag-time for the dishes.  Coffee Cups - count on at least 1 per guest.

Some Key Tips & Considerations:

Reduce the Possibility for Trauma: Remove any valued breakables from the main party area & clear away any elements that may pose a hazard (tools, sharp objects, etc.). Be sure all walkways are free of ice or anything that may cause one to slip, trip, or fall & during the party be sure to inform your service assistant of any spills. Also, it's best if pets are removed to a safe room (the master bedroom is best option - it keeps the pets in & the guests out) - this will make your guests more comfortable & it's actually less stressful for the pets themselves.

Dealing with Kids: Ultimately, any children will be the responsibility of their parents. But if you expect a number of youngsters then be sure to kid-proof as much as possible. It's actually a great idea to get a baby sitter & have a separate area dedicated to the kids. AND PLEASE, keep them out of the kitchen! Hot & sharp objects will be all around & people will be moving fast with hot dishes of food. Most don’t look down when carrying a platter & this can cause bad things to happen.

Designated Drivers: Be sure to have non-alcoholic alternatives & available food for any designated drivers. It’s also a good idea to generally know who at the party will be driving home. Forewarned, you can get with a guest who has had a few cocktails & be sure that he or she gets something to eat, provide them with coffee, & if needed put them in a cab or even offer a ride home.

Parking: If parking is an issue then it might be worth it to run a car service to a parking lot at a nearby church or similar facility. Just provide such information in your initial invitation.

The Details! Be sure you have plenty of stuff like toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, etc. If it’s a cookout, be sure you have an extra tank or two of propane. It’s also a good idea to be sure you have items such as Tylenol, Band-aids, Midol, & Immodium AD. You never know what your last minute needs might be.

Thanks Again!

Rick~
P2

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