When it comes to throwing an event, big or small, Stefanie Cove is the absolute master. She’s planned our wedding, baby showers, birthday parties, and everything in between. I’ve loved working alongside her over the years—she’s literally taught me everything I know about party planning and hosting.
In my book, Everyday Chic, I included Stefanie as one of my experts (for obvious reasons). She’s truly the best in the business. Not only does she have exceptional taste but her keen eye for detail gives her that edge up. In party planning, detail is everything. With so many moving parts, things can go wrong at any moment. According to Stefanie, “the most common party mistakes are probably the tiny, easy things you forget about.”
Don’t let that intimidate you, though. Stefanie is here to share some common party mistakes she’s learned over the years—so you don’t make them.
Mistake #1: Ignoring the Weather
Pay attention to this. If you are planning on having an outdoor event, nothing ruins the party more than a harsh climate. Check the weather constantly, just in case. If it’s warm during the day but you know it will get chilly at night, provide cozy throw blankets for guests or rent some heaters. If the spot is notorious for getting a ton of sun, rent a few umbrellas. This may seem common sense but it’s often forgotten. The more your guests are comfortable, the longer they’ll stay.
Mistake #2: Forgetting a Friend
Yes, this has probably happened to all of us. That dreaded text from a friend, “I heard you were having a party?” The worst feeling ever! A lot of times, we are so worried about planning the perfect party that we forget the most important factor: the guest list. Without guests, there is no party. I always suggest creating a starter list and edit continuously. I’ve been known to double, triple, and quadruple check. But, if you ended up forgetting someone—just be honest. Tell them that it was an oversight and it’s nothing personal or you had forgotten to send the invitation. Most people will understand.
Mistake #3: Too Many RSVPs, Not Enough Room
If you plan on over-inviting just in case, then plan on that number just in case. It’s always a good idea to have a small 4-foot table (like a card table) and a linen tablecloth stored away for extra seating. This can be beneficial even for a small last-minute get-together. Also, the same goes for having extra chairs, whether you rent them or you store in the garage. For parties I host, I bring 3-5 more plates, flatware sets, etc. in case someone shows up unexpectedly but also if someone drops theirs on the floor. But, if all else fails and you forget? It’s not the worst problem to have so don’t sweat it. Everyone can squeeze in and be just fine.
Mistake #4: No Kid Activities
If you plan on throwing a party and the RSVP includes children, make sure to plan some activities. I’m not saying you need to go all out, by any means. Just a few things to keep them entertained so everyone can enjoy themselves. Fill a plastic pool or tub with bubbles and wands. Create a DIY craft table—it can be as simple as construction paper and markers to flower crowns. On the same note, don’t forget about food and drinks for them if the menu is a bit more advanced.
Mistake #5: No Restroom Check
This sounds silly but it’s important. It should go without saying that your guests will need to use the restroom (especially if drinks are flowing) so don’t forget to make sure toilet paper, towels, and soap are always stocked. A nice vase of fresh flowers and a candle are a good touch. It’s also good to make sure it’s kept clean. I’ve noticed that this ends up being an after-thought for a host. If everything else is perfection yet the bathroom is dirty, it shows.
Mistake #6: Running Out of Resources
And, by resources I mean food, beverages, alcohol, and ice. Scott, Molly’s husband, is completely adamant about this. According to him, you only need a few things to have a great party and food and alcohol are definitely on the list. Even if you are on a tight budget, it’s better to serve pizza on your nicest platters than to have your guests starve. If you don’t have much of a budget, spend the most on this area. For drinks, I always calculate two drinks per person for the first hour of the party and then one drink for each additional hour. Now, multiple that by the total number of guests. This includes kids’ drinks, too. Your best bet will be to set an entire bucket full of juice boxes and waters out in the open and refill from the fridge.
If you’re worried about wasting food, stick with small bites like a charcuterie plate, mini hamburgers, mini flatbreads, or a fresh veggie tray. If it’s a daytime event, people will just want to snack anyway. Still make sure you have enough. For a sit-down dinner, plan to prepare enough food for up to 3 extra guests.
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.