Blaunch Party and Six Tips for Hosting a Large Event
Last weekend, my friend Maureen and I hosted our long awaited “Blaunch” party. It was a positively gorgeous weekend to prepare for and host a blaunch. I mean we were truly blessed with that sunny, warm weather. Oh, wait. What’s a blaunch, you ask?
Blaunch = blog launch (shout out to Maureen’s husband Matt for that one). You love it, don’t you?
So, on Sunday, May 22nd, Maureen officially launched her blog, fromcondotocottage.com, and I launched mymidwestkitchenblog.com.
How this all came to fruition began several months ago. Please indulge me in telling this brief story…
Maureen and I used to work together (she was actually my boss for a few years) and we crossed paths at a group dinner in February. In passing conversation, we discovered that we both wanted to start our own blogs, with the hope of exercising our creative side through sharing recipes and fun anecdotes with family and friends. She offered to come over and chat about this idea the following weekend and before you knew it, we planned to host a launch party together! The goal of the launch/blaunch was to entertain our loved ones, while promoting our blogs after we had had some time to post a few things.
Over the next few months, we met three or four times to plan out the details. We arranged a venue, created an invite, planned a menu, and began buying goods for the party. I had never hosted a party for more than 20 people and over 100 were invited! Holy smokes! At the end of the day, 60 people RSVPd, but I was still a bit terrified of hosting such a large affair.
Luckily, Maureen is an ol’ pro at hosting large events and I was in good hands. While I love to host friends, I am more accustomed to smaller, intimate gatherings. It was tough for me to surrender my desires for many of the dishes and I challenged myself to think more simply while still being able to cook and make a lot of homemade goods (homemade pickles, anyone?). So, I most definitely learned a lot from hosting the blaunch!
Below are six tips that I encourage you to use when hosting a big event.
Six tips for hosting a large party:
1. Plan, plan, and plan
Something I love about Maureen is that her work self is her real self. What I mean by this is that she led the planning in a detailed fashion, just as she would a work meeting. We had an agenda for each day we met (even if it was meeting over brunch), touched base regularly, and collaborated on all aspects of the event. From planning the menu to arranging additional tables, everything was pre-planned.
I created a Google document with our shopping list arranged by menu item. We then took these items and created a sub-list according to where we would buy each. It was so valuable to have these lists and everything arranged ahead of time. We also made a prep agenda for the weekend of the party, including the order in which we planned to prepare the menu. This made prepping easier and less stressful.
2. Do not take RSVPs as concrete
From last minute responses to those who will not respond at all, I learned that an RSVP is a loose gauge to help make food and drink estimates. On a side note, isn’t it funny how we use RSVP as a noun (Répondez s’il vous plaît means “please respond”).
This experience taught me that it was important not to rely too heavily on these numbers, but rather use it as a necessary point of review to help with making those shopping lists realistic in terms of quantity.
3. Recruit help
My friend Kara messaged me a couple of weeks before the party and asked if I would like her to come early to help. I readily accepted her generous offer and let her know that she would be in good company since Maureen’s sister Margaret and good friend Meg were coming early to help as well.
If these gals had not come a few hours before the party, I do not know what we would have done. They were great at helping prep and let us delegate tasks to them while we got ready.
We made sure we had some food and drinks for them upon arrival as a thank you and fuel for the work. They were so great and Meg even lent us TONS of stuff to use for the party. Kara was a doll and prepped drinks for guests and Margaret was our amazing photographer.
Many people, including the girls, stayed after to help us wash dishes and clean up. #grateful
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your loved ones!
4. Make more, not less
It is a better scenario to have leftovers than to run out of food.
I would have been mortified if we had run out of anything and left an empty belly. While we had tons of extra food, our guests were happy to take home leftovers because we provided to-go bags (another good tip).
And it was super fun getting messages and photos from people that week as they enjoyed the food for lunch or dinner!
5. Create a fun playlist ahead of time
Maureen created a great playlist that lasted the entire party. It provided a fun, light atmosphere and everyone heard a little something they liked.
Be sure you have speakers that are strong enough so that you can hear the music, but keep it at a low enough level so that people can still have solid conversations.
6. Stay calm
It is normal to have a moment (or two) where you may freak out. I sure did. But, Maureen reminded me to stay calm and I, too, gave myself a few pep talks. When the clock is a ticking, it is easy to maybe step on the line between having a meltdown or not.
No matter what, you will feel like you are running out of time, but some how, things just fall into place. I learned that no matter what, things tend to work out…not just for a large party, but also in life.
Posting a large menu is a fun way to let your guests know what everything is. Check out my recipes for the double truffle popcorn and baked meatballs. For the party, I subbed in turkey. Other recipes still to come…
Classics like crudite and cheese are always a crowd pleaser!
To promote my Indian cooking class, I made a tray full of these delicious chickpea flour savory cakes called Khaman Dhokla.
Be sure and thank your guests with a quick speech!
Get some snapshots of your smiling guests!
I hope you got some ideas for hosting your next large (or small) party! Cheers!