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Strategies & Ideas To Make Your Party Unique

Posted by Rae Lynn on 6/28/2011 to Party Planning
If you want everyone clamoring for an invite to one of your events, fill your party with little surprises and unexpected pleasures and you will soon gain the reputation of hosting marvelous parties. We have outlined some strategies along with a few of our favorite unique party ideas to inspire your creative juices.

Strategies
  • The first rule is to avoid the ubiquitous, tired, and common. If you’ve seen it many times before, so has everyone else.  Add to or create the same effect with a variation.
    • Use ceiling swirls instead of balloons
    • Use floral sprays instead of, or in addition to, flowers
    • Host a “Pink Flamingo” birthday party instead of an “Over the Hill” party
  • Select a theme to create a unifying foundation, which will establish a frame of reference for your ideas and decor.
  • Consider the background, placement and timing of party elements and events to amplify the effect.
    • Timing:  Time elements to be discovered, unveiled, or presented over the duration of the party.
      • Close off the decorated dining room from view until seating for dinner.
      • Present serving trays of hors d’oeuvres at intervals throughout the party.
      • Synchronize the pausing of the music and playing a 30 second video clip of the guest of honor.
    • Background:  Neutralize the background to make colors, motifs, and decorations stand out.
      • Remove colors that compete with your theme and/or colors.
      • Use neutral colors like beige, white and gray as a background, such as, a white table cloth on the dinner table.
      • Use large window shades to block off unsightly or distracting areas, such as, a bamboo backdrop behind the bar.
    • Placement:  Position elements to be discovered as guests encounter them throughout the event.
      • At the front entrance as guests arrive.
      • In the bathroom to be discovered when each guest visits.
      • On the hors d’oeuvre tray as they are passed.
      • At the bar, as each guest gets a drink.
  • Plan a number of small surprises in the details of your party to build a big overall impression. Make the details a priority:
    • Use a real pineapple instead of a tissue one.
    • Serve cocktails in glass instead of plastic.
    • Prearrange a music playlist.
  • Introduce new and unique ideas or a twist on an old idea to create interest and engage the minds of your guests. 
Ideas
  • Guests   
    • Include a mix of guests that do not all know each other.
    • Invite new and attractive faces.
    • Make sure to have a number of gregarious, personable guests in attendance.
    • Arrange for surprise guests, such as, out-of-town friends or celebrity guests.
  • Guest Participation
    • Create a mural, timeline or collage for the guest of honor by arranging for invitees to send:
      • A photo of the invitee with the guest of honor, which you can use to create a wall of framed photos, a collage, or scrapbook.
      • The most significant shared event for the invitee and guest of honor to create a timeline of the guest of honor’s life.
      • A decorated cutout for a mural for the guest of honor, such as, stone for a fireplace, flower for a garden, leaf for a fall scene, etc.
    • Encourage guests to dress and accessorize in the spirit of the theme.
    • Pass out wearable items for your guests at the party, such as, Hawaiian grass skirts, party beads, glow bracelets, disco ball necklaces, etc.
  • Scenes & Vignettes
    • Create a life size scene in your foyer or party area, such as:
      • At the beach
      • Graveyard
      • Tropical plants & flowers
      • Ship railing with portholes
      • Pier
      • Fireplace
    • Create a mini-scene on a table, such as:
      • Surf Shack on the beach
      • Palm trees alongside boats in blue water
      • Snowman sledding through snow-covered trees
      • Pink flamingos under palm trees
    • Change the scenery by moving to designated areas, such as:
      • Cocktail area by the pool
      • Dining room for dinner
      • After dinner drinks by an outdoor fire pit
      • Limousine or van to a different location
    • Change the scenery in the party area, such as:
      • Opening drapes after dark to reveal a view of the city, pool, or tiki torches
      • Turn on colored, string or disco lights
      • Shine a spotlight on a previously hung disco ball
      • Creating a picture window view of the ocean, then reveal by raising bamboo window shades
  • Decorations
    • Choose quality over quantity, for example, one wooden tiki god statue on the bar makes a better impression than 10 cardboard cutout tikis taped to the wall.
    • Choose colors coordinated with your theme, such as, red, green & white for a Mexican Fiesta, then pull out everything you have in your theme colors.
    • Neutralize the background by removing colors that distract from your theme colors. Use neutral colors whenever possible as a backdrop for your theme colors.
    • Add color by filling vases and bowls with colored rocks, marbles, candy, submersible LED lights, glass balls, ornaments, metallic shred, or colored water.
    • Choose icons and motifs that represent your theme and repeat them as often as possible, such as sailboats for a nautical theme, surfboards for a beach party, spiders for a Halloween party.
    • Decorate your guests with leis, beads, glow necklaces, flowers and other accessories.
    • Use natural items as decorations and backdrops, such as, real fruit, bamboo, leaves, acorns, tree branches, driftwood, plants, etc. 
    • Add silk flowers appropriate for your theme to your house plants and group them together to create a lush backdrop.
    • Print out pictures of theme-related scenes or icons, such as, beach scenes or nautical flags; photos of guests with the guest of honor (request with the invitation); or colored paper for color themes and place into individual photo frames.
    • Spray paint tree branches to look like coral for an Under the Sea party or any color theme party.
    • Float items in the bath tub, pool, and/or hot tub, such as, candles, flowers, rubber duckies, mini beach balls, or toy boats.
    • Use balloons to make a life-size sculpture of a palm tree or monkeys.
    • Float an inflatable 4-cup holder in the pool at a pool party, with nuts, ice,  mixer, & liquor or a bowl of cherries with a cup for the pits.
    • Position decoration surprises to be discovered over the duration of the party, including the:
      • Front entrance and walkway
        • Yard stakes
        • Signs
        • Electric Lights
        • Hanging door decorations
      • Foyer
        • Life-size scene
        • Tabletop display
      • Party area
        • Votive candles
        • Electric lights
        • Mini-scenes & mantel display
        • Mural/Backdrops
        • Ceiling swirls
        • Floral sprays
        • Filled vases & bowls
        • Theme decor
        • Theme colors
      • Bar
        • Tabletop displays
        • Lighting
        • Theme confetti
        • Ice Bucket
        • Bar signs
        • Cocktail napkins
        • Swizzle sticks
        • Garnishes
        • Theme candy e.g. gummy fish, life savers, colored M&Ms
      • Food
        • Food picks
        • Serving tray centerpieces
        • Garnishes
      • Bathroom
        • Hand towels
        • Shaped soaps
        • Counter top display
        • Theme confetti
      • Dinner table
        • Centerpiece
        • Salt & pepper shakers
        • Plates & chargers
        • Theme confetti
        • Candles
        • Candle holders
        • Napkins
        • Napkin rings
      • Smoking area
        • Torches
        • Votive candles
        • String lights
  • Cocktails
    • Prepare a signature drink for the occasion in keeping with your theme.
    • Name your signature drink for the theme and/or guest of the honor e.g. Sex On Jerry's Beach for Sex On The Beach.
    • Randomly put LED ice cubes into cocktails.
    • Use theme or glow swizzle sticks.
    • Serve in special glasses for the occasion, such as hollowed out pineapples or coconut cups for a Hawaiian Luau.
    • Serve cocktails in glasses (except outdoors) and with a themed cocktail napkin.
  • Food
    • Choose hors d'oeuvres and dishes related to the theme, such as, seafood for Under the Sea or smoked salmon for a Pink party.
    • Create theme related shaped food, such as, shrimp with snow pea sails for a Nautical party, sausage ball lollipops for a birthday party, or pasta shells for a beach dinner party.
    • Decorate serving trays with theme-related centerpieces.
  • Music
    • Arrange a music playlist that includes a wide variety of artists and genres.
    • Include unique recordings of popular songs e.g. Shirley Bassey's Get This Party Started
    • Look for rerecorded old hits in a new style e.g. Cake's Strangers In The Night
    • Use only one song per artist in your playlist.
    • Incorporate fun and humorous songs e.g. Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
    • Mix in songs related to your theme.
  • Lighting
    • Use string lights related to your theme, such as, pink flamingos, chef hats, life rings, margarita glasses, etc.
    • Mini-lights in your theme colors
      • Frame doorways and wrap columns.
      • Use in trees & plants.
      • Alternate glass balls or marbles in a glass bowl or vase.
      • Place a strand in a crystal bowl for a dazzling display.
    • Use colored bulbs related to your theme, e.g. red & green lights to represent port & starboard at a Nautical party or purple for Halloween.
    • Alternate theme color and frosted votive candle holders along the mantel, shelves, and cabinets.
    • Use torches and yard stake candles outdoors.
    • Use glow sticks to light walkways.
    • Place submersible LED lights in vases for a sophisticated splash of color.
  • Confetti & Scatter
    • Scatter theme-related items throughout the party, such as, over-sized acorns, leaves, fake jewels, or shells.
    • Use theme or color metallic confetti at the bar, in the bathroom, and on the dinner table.
    • Put a few sprinkles of confetti in thank you cards and invitations.
  • Party Beads
    • Pass a tray of party beads.
    • Fill a giant martini glass with party beads and place on the bar.
    • Wrap party beads around dinner napkins as a napkin ring guests can wear.
    • Fill bud vases in your theme colors with party beads along with a floral spray or flower.
  • Birthday
    • Randomly place "Happy Birthday" picks in hors d'oeuvres and drink garnishes
    • Create life-size heads of the birthday boy or girl as masks for guests to wear while singing "Happy Birthday".
    • Create a mural of decorated items, photos, or a timeline of events honoring the special guest.
    • Make a video tribute for the birthday boy/girl beforehand featuring guests at the party.
    • Use special candles for the birthday cake or treats, such as, letter candles or a musical flower.
    • Use gel letters on a mirror or window that say "Happy Birthday!"
  • Dinner
    • Place a theme or colored napkin and shot in each dinner plate or charger.
    • Hide the decorated dining room & table until seating for dinner.
    • Plate each course for a more memorable presentation.
    • After Dinner
      • Set-up an area for after dinner drinks or cordials, such as, an outdoor fire pit or porch.
      • Rent a limousine or van for an after-dinner outing.
      • Have a short musical recital by a friend or hired performer.
  • Photos
    • Create posters of your guests and/or guest of honor.
    • Cover a wall in 8 x 10 framed photos of your guests with the guest of honor (request with the invitation).
    • Hang photos in a fishing net for a Nautical, Under the Sea or Beach party.
    • Put photos in the center of large silk flowers and create a garden scene.
    • Set-up a photo backdrop and hire someone to take guests' photos. Email each guest their picture after the party.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Dress your servers in the spirit of your theme, e.g. as the Statue of Liberty for a New York, New York party.
    • Place fun signs directing guests to parking and the party.
    • Use a bubble machine for an Under the Sea or Birthday party.
    • Use a fog machine for an "I Left My Heart In San Francisco", Nautical, or Studio 54 party.
    • Buy flashing and/or spinning lights to create a dance floor or for a Retro party.
    • Stick glow in the dark stars on the ceiling in the party area or dining room for a Nautical or Fantasia party.
  • Favors
    • Bags of candy
    • Decorative wine stoppers
    • Mini gumball machines
    • Cupcake candles
    • Playing cards or poker chips
    • Tealight holders
    • ...the list could go forever, there are a million cute favor ideas, easily searchable.
  • Events
    • Have the guest of honor open cards & gifts in between courses at a dinner party to entertain the guests and take the pressure off of you.
    • Stop the music turn down the lights and have 4 friends throw 200 glow sticks into the swimming pool from different positions.
    • Serve a surprise mid-afternoon taco buffet at a pool party.
    • Have a friend dress in drag as a celebrity and do a surprise performance related to your theme or guest of honor.
    • Pass Jell-o shots poured into hollowed out oranges, lemons, and/or limes and cut into wedges.
    • Fill a pinata with mini liquor bottles, gourmet foods, and/or flavored coffees for any theme party.  Find a pinata that coordinates with your theme.
    • Show a video tribute for your guest of honor featuring your party guests.
    • Hire performers, such as, actors for a staged scene, violinist, stripper, or impersonator.
Tell us about a unique idea you have seen or done yourself:

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