Friday, January 20, 2012

The Making of a Party . . . Teacher Appreciation

I love parties.  I like attending them, but I really like hosting. 

What I enjoy most about the party is the planning.  I can plan, re-plan and then plan some more!  I am VERY theme oriented - so in the planning I have the think up a theme, decor, invitations, wording, food, party favor and then the master plan - completed concept.

For me, the love of the party comes in all the detail work.

THEME - my theme is often based on time of the year, holidays, something going on in my life or my the type of gift to be given. 

DECORATIONS - well clearly it is driven from the theme - from linens, colors, utensils, dishes used, candles, candle scents, glasses, down to center pieces.

INVITATION/WORDING - depending on my crowd I use paper, evite or a like service.  I MUST have a rhyme on my invitation depicting what will go on.

FOOD - I have my go to - fan favorite foods.  I always include some of those, but also I go theme on the food.  I am looking for a full experience.

PARTY FAVORS - A must have as far as I am concerned!  It is a warm hug out the door.

MASTER PLAN - This is where I have every detail lined out, tables set, serving pieces labeled.

Now to put all these elements into action!

I was appointed the Teacher Appreciation Co-Chair at my son's school.  It is our job to organize and host 4 Teacher Appreciation luncheons for 70 lower school teachers and admin staff.

The planning began when I got the job.  I had my general concepts I like to do.  If possible, play to your strong suits.  Mine strong party concepts are Halloween, Christmas, Mardi Gras and Cinco de Mayo.  Once we got our dates, we were set.  All of my strong party concepts fit the dates provided by the Lower School Head Mistress.

We are going to work through planning a party with actual photos of the event.

Halloween - date in calendar!

With it being Halloween and one of my strong party concepts we went with the classic - orange, black and neon green accents. 

The luncheon started before they even entered the building.  In the breezeway between building we placed some Halloween decor.  Layering your party helps build momentum.  

The tables were draped in black, and I love that.  It gives everything a really solid base visually.  It can be hard to find black table cloths around town.  To get great cloths you can use time after time, I go to  They have great prices and I was able to out fit my table with not only the cloths but these really fun runners.  There were a total of 6 tables and each had a center piece.  When hosting a luncheon for teachers they want to talk during lunch.  Something they don't get to do since they eat when the students eat. 

So we kept the arrangements simple, low and consistent.  My sister Julie was the mastermind behind them.  Each had a shiny cloth, from gathered, a colorful glittery pumpkin, spider and the word Boo!  There were coffins on the table with candy corn in them.  As well as a flyer for the teachers and staff to see what families support this luncheon.

I had some parent volunteers drape the food tables with orange butcher block paper.  Our school has rolls of this paper in the teacher's work room.  The parent volunteers covered each table in orange paper and secured it to the underside of the table.  This allows us to keep all of our tables uniform and keeps confusion to a minimum.  It would have also allowed up to write in chalk on the paper what we were serving. This technique works especially well with black paper.

The dessert table had spiders climbing across it and up the wall.  Again draped in orange. 

Next is to get an invitation out.  Depending on your target audience determines your invitation time frame.  Since my audience was the lower school teachers and staff, and the luncheon would be held on a school day at lunch, I didn't have to worry about a month in advance deadline. The teachers and staff knew when they were schedule for this luncheon. 

10 days before the event an email was sent out to all the teachers and lower school admin with our invitation attached.  We also placed an invitation in key areas.

As you can tell from the invitation we did BBQ.  BBQ is typical fall food here in Texas.  Plus, I knew the school cafeteria had not done BBQ this year, and the BBQ they do is a tad bit different.  We had the event catered in - Sonny Bray's Smokehouse did the meats, 2 sides and a relish tray. 

We had parents bring the rest. We had 2 salads, fruits, corn, peach cobber, apple cobbler, cookies, brownies, and Blue Bell ice cream, made here in Texas.  I am a local girl and believe in supporting those companies that so business here!

I have always been a big fan of the party favor.  It has the potential to keep the good will built up during the party going.  Party favors are not necessary, but they are a sweet and thoughtful touch.  Keeping with our Halloween theme - we set up a Trick & Treat Bar.  Each teacher and staff member grabbed a bag and filled it with their favorite candy.  We had the required "good" chocolates, Snickers, Baby Ruth, Hershey Kit Kat, Rolos.  We had the neighborhood standard assortment of Laffy Taffy, Dots, Tootsie Rolls.  We had hard candy like the Lemon Drops and Jaw Breakers.  We were aiming to cover everyone in our audience. 

We decorated a small thin table by the exit for the Trick and Treat Bar.  I love a party when the guest can build their own something.  Can be a Trick and Treat Bar, Salsa Bar, Bath Salts Bar, Cupcake Bar and so on.  It gives you a break on putting everything together, gives them something to do and they feel extra special because it is all their favorites, since they made it!

To execute my plan to perfectiong, and I just perfection lightly - there is always some sore of a problem, I type out a schedule of what is to be done when, When is the food arriving - name and phone number of contact.  What volunteers I have and who is doing what and in what order.  It works wonderfully.  The more events you host the more familiar you will become with the party details.  I note when the additional lights go on, candles lit, oven temps - which oven and how long.  Details hake it a success.

The teachers and lower school staff were so appreciative of the luncheon.  Really liked the BBQ, who wouldn't, it was from the best BBQ joint in Dallas.  But the attention to detail, the table center pieces, dessert table, Trick and Treat bar were the biggest hits!

I am often contacted from girls I went to elementary through college with asking what I would do for a party or what party favor would be good.  I love it and am willing to share what I know. I am willing to help make their event awesome!

So, when is your next party and what are we going to do?

Happy Pinning

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