Inside Stitch

The official Vera Bradley blog

How-to: Plan a Party like a Professional

‘Tis the season for hosting holiday parties. We love making everything merrier, including our events, so we asked professional party stylist, Chris, to help us brush up on our soiree skills. Whether you’re an experienced entertainer or hosting for the first time, you’ll benefit from these tips.

How-To: Plan a Party like a Professional

VB: Tell us a little about yourself!
Chris: I’ve been planning and hosting parties for about 19 years. It all started when we moved here in Richmond, Virginia and we needed a way to meet our new neighbors. As the holidays rolled around, I decided to host a Christmas cocktail party as a way to meet our new community. I literally went door-to-door to invite our neighbors whom we didn’t know. It turned out to be a success and we’re now preparing for our 18th annual Christmas cocktail party!

I found that I love the brainstorming and planning of small events and celebrations, and worked as a party planner before focusing on my blog full time. After nearly two decades of parties, small weddings, and non-profit events, I have it down to a science! Now I love sharing my experience and inspiration with my readers on Celebrations At Home blog.

How-To: Plan a Party like a Professional

VB: What is your favorite part about planning events during the holidays?
Chris: Coordinating the special touches. I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top either–just a few thoughtfully placed garnishes or unexpected serving pieces can do the trick. I love to transform an everyday sitting room into a bar and lounge area by hanging string lights around the space and putting large pillows on the floor for seating. Instant ambiance and so unexpected.

How-To: Plan a Party like a Professional

VB: What is something people usually forget about when planning to host for the holidays?
Chris: Many hosts forget that a party is about having fun, not about doing everything perfectly or impressing people. If a guest offers to bring something, tell them what you need and let them do it. If you’re not adept at baking, buy a pie from the bakery. It doesn’t have to be “perfect” to be perfect!

How-To: Plan a Party like a Professional

How-To: Plan a Party like a Professional

VB: What is your biggest piece of advice for someone planning to host a holiday party for the first time?
Chris: One of the biggest things to remember for holiday parties is to get the word out early! People’s calendars start to fill up quickly with work events, family gatherings, etc., so send out a save-the-date text, email or event page on Facebook as much as six weeks in advance.

Download Chris’ easy holiday event planning checklist to use for your next party.

the professional's guide to party planning

How-To: Plan a Party like a Professional

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