Julie’s 13 Must-Haves for an Unforgettable & Fabulous Event
Wanna know what you must have for a great party from the expert? This post is for you! Plus, everything is on a budget!
As an event planner, I put extreme focus on details because details are what people will remember. I do not remember exactly what I did after I got up this morning and started getting dressed, but I do remember the centerpiece at my friend’s wedding. Adults especially need aesthetics to trigger memory. This is why when you are planning an event, you cannot skimp on the details. Does this mean that you have to go spend a ton of money on vases? No. You can still have fantastic, eye-catching details on a budget. These are definitely not in order of importance because they are ALL important.
1. Fantastic Centerpieces
This was a centerpiece for a wedding that had two main themes: Literature because one bride is an English major, writer, and teacher, and Lovebirds because the other bride is a huge animal enthusiast. These details got lots of compliments. The books were borrowed, the baby’s breath was bought at Winn Dixie in a bundle for about $3.50. The ribbons were bought at Dollar Tree, and the little wooden shapes were bought in a big bag at Michael’s for around $10, and they were used in multiple places.
This centerpiece was for a birthday party that was all about color and fun! The paper and pens were for a trivia that was put together for the birthday boy! Everything came from Dollar Tree. This centerpiece cost $4.75 to make, and all of the guests gave rave reviews!
Many venues come equipped with lighting, but something that should be considered is back-lighting. Look for my post on creating back-lighting coming soon!
It’s important to pay attention to lighting even if you don’t have a venue with good lighting. You can always use candles and other smaller lights to create ambiance in the place of fluorescent lighting, which should NEVER be used unless it’s in a hospital.
If your venue does not have good lighting, think outside the box and create some simple light fixtures using string lights and materials that are easy to hang or drape.
It goes without saying that music is a must at any event. Remember when planning your music, you get what you pay for. If you plan to simply hook up a bluetooth speaker and let it go, you may find yourself in a pickle! Make sure that you download a long enough playlist that you’re not rushing over to change songs continuously. Also, make sure that the music is appropriate for the event and the audience. I personally like 90s Grunge like Nirvana and Bush, but not everyone enjoys these! You want your event to be a great experience, so consider your crowd!
If you are hiring someone to play music, take it from a DJ (yes, I DJ!) that we want to know what you want. Don’t say, “I trust you,” and then try to micromanage the music during the event. Be clear. Send a playlist. And, remember: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
4. Themed Food
YESSS, please…remember that details matter, and PEOPLE REMEMBER FOOD!!! Theming your food does not have to be extravagant, and it can actually help you make decisions about it easier.
Since this party was all about being colorful and having fun, the menu items were chosen to be colorful finger foods! It was that simple!
Another way to add pizzazz is to let your desserts add to the decor! Painting serving trays the color of the theme, having themed toppings, all of these small details make a HUGE difference!
If you really want to WOW your guests, add a fun signature drink to the menu. Again, this does not have to be extravagant. You can add a splash of lime to cranberry and vodka and call it “Tipsy Twang” or something that goes with the theme of the event!
Events are all about experience…big or small! If you can, utilize some of your local talent. They will often come out for an hour for a reasonable cost! I recently procured some drag queens to come to an event, and it was totally worth it! They were definitely crowd pleasers!
Local artists are also often looking for ways to showcase their talents! Some other entertainment options include having someone dress up for a photo opp, having someone sing/dance, etc. Be creative and bring the fun!
In the day of the selfie, everyone wants an opportunity to take a fun picture! Be sure to have a photobooth at your party. It doesn’t have to be a hired one (unless you have the budget), but they are fantastic! You can find fun props at Dollar Tree and create your own backdrop. I’m going to be posting how to create a backdrop soon!
Be sure to add extra recognition to your event by creating a Hashtag and encouraging everyone to use it when they’re posting on Instagram, etc. This will give you easy access to all the great photos that are candidly shot at the event.
8. An Emcee
People need direction! If you want to ensure that your party is a success, you need someone to make sure that everything that you want your guests to know and do is announced. Designate a friend or relative who likes to speak in public, or have your DJ or Coordinator handle it.
9. Activity Station
This is something fairly new for adult parties, but why not? They’ve made adult arcades a thing! At a recent party that I planned, a small painting station was available for guests to paint a small canvas. It was fun and it allowed guests to have something to do if the cocktail line got too long!
If you truly want your guests to remember your party, you’ll need to know who they were so that you can send them a thank-you! This can be electronic (tagged post, private message), but it is a must!
11. Something Unique
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that this is a lot! But, trust me. I’m the expert. The above photo is a table that contained bows for each guest to wear. They had a clothespin glued to the back, and there was a message from the host that said something like, “Because you are all gifts to me, I’d like you to wear a bow.” It was thoughtful and unique, and the guests loved it so much they wore their bows proudly through the night! Doing something unique that you think of makes the event unforgettable!
Balloons are great decor! They are inexpensive and add great color to any event.
Remember, just like food can be a part of decor, so can tableware and glasses! Details matter!
13. Party Favors
Give guests a reason to be glad that they came and add an inexpensive party favor that goes along with the theme of the event!
Putting all of these together will guarantee a fun and memorable experience.
Experiences in a legal office, a small southern university, teaching high school and college, raising kids, painting, loving, traveling, and changing have all led me to write. I've always been passionate about helping others find their voices, but I had trouble finding my own. I feel like I finally have, and I'm ready to share.