Life is full of events to celebrate and people to celebrate with whether it's remembering past happiness, recognizing special people and holidays, anticipating future joys-all wonderful excuses to throw a party. 

The spring months offer many special opportunities to throw your doors open to family and friends. While many hosts feel intimidated by the details of party planning, using a party theme, for birthday, anniversary and holiday celebrations, can simplify many decisions.

When a host executes a theme properly, all the different elements of the party work together. From culinary flavors to party favors, the party should evoke one particular image or effect. Often, the choice of a theme can be the most important decision an entertainer can make.

Before choosing your party theme, think about the event or the person being celebrated.  Make sure your theme is both appropriate and meaningful to the occasion. Then try to incorporate the theme as thoroughly as possible. Think about invitations, decorations, serving arrangements, music, mementos, costumes and, especially, food. Instead of the usual party fare, try an assortment of hors d'oeuvres, from chicken salad on cucumber rounds to fancy deviled eggs; raw vegetables (crudités) such as cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, red and green peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, fennel, radishes, sugar snap peas, carrots and broccoli. A basket of fresh fruit can also serve as a centerpiece for a buffet or serving table, as well as platters of imported cheeses and crackers from different countries. Look for foods that will enhance the expression of your theme.

Some party themes are especially tailored to the spring holidays, while others are appropriate all year long.

April Fool’s Day - On April 1, invite your friends to a party where things are not as they seem.  To create an atmosphere of confusion, set all your clocks to different times, and hang some pictures upside down. Encourage your guests to wear incongruous clothing-a fancy necktie over a grubby T-shirt. Follow Bach with the Beatles on your stereo.

Easter - A deeply religious holiday for many, Easter symbolizes the rebirth of new life.  Appropriately, Easter falls in the spring, when nature revives from winter slumber. For an Easter party, choose a theme which celebrates springtime itself. Delicate flowers make beautiful decorations, and pastel colors add light to any room. Cake molds in the shapes of young animals, like lambs and chicks, produce attractive Easter cakes. Easter offers an ideal opportunity to host a children's party. Children enjoy dying eggs, which can be hidden outdoors for a challenging Easter Egg Hunt. The eggs can also be a beautiful decoration for an adult party. For dessert, try an Easter Bunny cake. Insert two cardboard ears into a dome-shaped cake. Icing and pink spaghetti whiskers complete the effect.

Birthdays - Often, children's birthday parties are based on popular toys or cartoon characters.  For a more personal approach, try crafting a party to celebrate your child's individual interests. For a musical child, decorate your home with large notes, and help children make maracas or kazoos. Play musical chairs, and serve a cake made to resemble a drum.

For an adult party, creating a theme requires research and creativity. One possibility is a period party based on the decade of the adult's birth. Find newspaper headlines from that era, and dig out baby and childhood pictures of the honoree. Serve fad foods from the time period, and encourage guests to wear period clothing. This idea also works well for anniversary parties; recreate the year in which the couple was married.

Showers - Few events bring more joy than a wedding or a new baby. And, of course, new roles call for special decorations and needed gifts. For a bridal shower, decorate with wedding novelties-paper bells, floral bouquets, and white balloons. Create a bride cake by inserting the upper half of a small doll, available in craft stores, into a dome-shaped cake. "Dress" the doll with white icing.

Baby showers allow for a variety of themes:  teddy bears, umbrellas or baby animals. Deck the room with baby accessories, like candy-filled bottles and stuffed animals. Carve a watermelon into a baby buggy to serve fruit salad, and make sandwich cookies with animal crackers and icing. Ask guests to bring baby pictures of themselves, and keep them guessing!

Party Tips - No matter what theme you choose, hosting a party requires careful planning.  Think about every possibility, and try to anticipate problems before they develop. Be flexible as you plan; don't be afraid of last-minute adjustments.

A crucial consideration involves the space allotted for the party. Make sure that guests have enough room to circulate and enjoy themselves. Rearrange furniture, removing coffee tables and other obstacles. Aesthetic appeal is also a consideration-a cluttered room lacks a welcoming feeling. For large parties, rented tents provide additional space at a reasonable cost.

Arrangements for eating also deserve thought. For buffets, serve foods that do not require a knife. Add additional space around the buffet to aid traffic flow. For dinner parties, try to seat people with common interests together. 

​Les Kincaid's

Lifestyles

 

Party Planning Made Easy