I am a homebody and I think that is one reason I love being in interiors. Making my home and others as stylish and comfortable as possible gives me so much joy. I actually started out wanting to be an event planner or in the entertaining field. However, I knew the hours would not work for my family. My son was playing travel baseball and my daughter was in competitive cheer and also had a travel season. Between these two sports, my weekends were spoken for. I still love to entertain at my own home, plan my husband’s corporate events, and help friends out when called upon. In doing so, I have built up my own personal entertaining notebook with content I use all the time.
I have divided the notebook into several sections that help me organize the information I want to keep on hand. You can organize yours in anyway you think would help you keep track of your party information. You may want a section for vendor names and contacts that you deal with if you don’t have them in your phone. Below are the sections of my notebook and how I use them for future party planning. Feel free to use the same ones if you feel they will help you in your party planning. The picture below is from my daughter’s 13th carnival party.
Menus and Catering- Probably the most valuable section to me is my catering menus. I have used the same caterer for the past 7 years. So I have built up quite a few menu selections. The only time I have used a different caterer is when I use a venue that has their own caterer that I must use. It is amazing to be able to build a rapport with a company over that period of time. This company anticipates my parties and calls me 6 months before each of my annual events to ask if I need help. I pride myself on being a pretty organized person, but it does help having an amazing set of vendors to make you look good.
Building a rapport with the team you work with shows in your party details. You want your party to flow seamlessly between you and the staff you hired. My caterers and I work so well together because we have done this so many times. We know how each other works and what to expect from each other. I know which server I want as the lead and who I want behind the tables. This kind of knowledge comes with time after using a service many times.
Another good reason to keep your menus are to compare what worked from year to year and what didn’t. You might have had too many fried foods that were hard to keep hot. Writing feedback on your menus about the food after the party can give you huge insight for the party you throw the following year. One year my daughter’s friend said, “Please tell me your mom is having the same desserts you had last year.” Well I didn’t know for sure what we had served at that exact party. I went back to my menus and made sure I ordered those same desserts especially for him. Of course, I liked the same desserts so it was a win-win!
Vendor Contracts- In this section I keep all my contracts for freelance vendors. This comes in handy if there is a discrepancy in the invoice, the details of the party or the terms of agreement. I have used this section several times during my parties and there after. One year our annual 4th of July party was on a Saturday night. Our DJ company charged us the weekend rate due to it being their prime season for weddings, parties and other events. Two years later the 4th fell on a Monday. I had kept my contract and was able to negotiate a huge discount (first of all b/c I was a repeat customer) because I was having the party on a Monday which was a weekday.
Receipts- Keeping my receipts are very important. I usually keep them for a couple of years and then I shred them. I love keeping my candy bar invoices because I like to know what companies I order from and what candy worked from year to year. Some candy does better in the heat and just goes better with the crowd. Also, I have found some candy companies do better at shipping the candy safely without it melting. One year we had a cotton candy fiasco and I will only use my caterer and a cotton candy machine if I do that again. A word to the wise, Do not try it on your own. It gets hard and sticky very quickly (like within 10 minutes).
Special Instructions and details- This section deals with all the nitty gritty tiny details that make a great party go to the next level. Info about my linens, how many tables I need, and what stations I will have go in this section. Since I am my own party planner, I would have things like the Dj list of songs to play/not play, list of vendors coming and what they are supposed to bring with them, party timelines and things like that in this section. I usually have my DJ run the timeline of the party and I set my phone alarm as a back up.
Party Invitations- I save some of my party invitations so I can remember all the important questions. The Who, what, where, when, why, and how. These kinds of things are important. For example, last year the firework display was at the perfect time. The timing of a party is very important and can be adjusted with just a little feedback from the year before. Then I usually like to keep the guest list so I can remember who was there from year to year.
If you are in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and are looking for some contacts you can use my name as a reference. I would recommend these people in a heart beat.
Caterers- Chesapeake Bay Catering
Astro DJs– Richard
party planner -Janet Bell Events
I hope this review of my entertaining notebook gives you some ideas of ways to stay organized with your next party. Keeping track of this information will give you so much feedback for years to come. If you do this, I would love to know what sections are in your party notebook.