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I have noticed more and more functions,
especially weddings, being held during the day
mid-week. With enough notice, guests can take
time off work and, if the kids are at school or
day care, babysitting problems are solved. It also
means your function centre of choice is more
likely to be available.
Breakfast functions are perpetually popular for
business people but an early morning breakfast
could also be a great way to start the day for a
special celebration with friends.
Functions at breakfast and lunch time
are particularly fantastic in some of the great
waterfront restaurants and parks we have here in
Perth where the views over sparkling water on a
sunny day are unsurpassed.
Whatever you do, don t make it ambiguous.
Nothing is more annoying than not knowing
what to wear. Do your guests a favour, take the
stress out of the preparation and avoid people
being potentially embarrassed on the night
(unless that s what you want!). If it is formal,
make it clear that gentlemen are expected in black
tie, if it is lounge suit, say so. Personally, I find
"smart-casual" a little tricky to work out because
it can mean anything from jeans to cocktail
If you are going for dress-ups, pick a theme
that gives your guests a chance to look good and to
which they can conform with a minimum of effort
if necessary. It should be simple but effective.
If your guests want to go the whole hog and
buy or hire a fancy costume for the night, let
them, but if they are making a last-minute dash to
their own wardrobe for dress-ups, make it easy for
them to find something.
For example, if they have not got a Native
American Indian outfit complete with feathered
headdress or a beautiful Tahitian grass skirt, they
Hawaiian shirt and still be ready to party.
Otherwise, if your guests have not had time
to work out what they are going to wear, many
will be put off by the last-minute need for an
elaborate costume and may choose not to
come at all.
Forcing guests just slightly out of their comfort-
zone in a costume of some sort is another great way
to break the ice and ensures that your guests arrive
in a partying frame of mind, ready to laugh.
A theme makes it easy to decorate the room
and choose appropriate music. It also offers huge
scope for having fun with witty theme-based food
Music establishes the flavour of
the party. It will greatly contribute
to the atmosphere of the gathering
and can even be a conversation -- or
impromptu singing -- starter.
Playing a mix of country, rock,
opera, jazz, blues and good old daggy
tunes will shift the ambience from fast to
slow, serious to light-hearted, and enliven a party.
Don t be too esoteric, you may want to show how
cosmopolitan your music taste is, but if you want
your guests to dance, they will appreciate familiar
And don t play it too loud. The whole point
of a social gathering is for people to be able to
socialise. Music that impedes conversation will
send them scuttling for a quiet place to chat -- or
A word of warning: after they have had a few
drinks, several of your guests will believe they can
make better music selections than you and will
start to fiddle with the sound system. You may
end up with people tracking through the house to
try to find your old Leo Sayer albums or stopping
every song a few bars in to change to another
song they like more. It will drive you mad.
Consider putting the stereo or iPod in a locked
room with speakers leading outside. Several
systems can be operated by remote control
through an open window. Better still, hire a DJ
or a string quartet.
DJs will bring lights, if that s what you want,
and the PA system will be good for the speeches.
A string quartet will bring style and taste.
Keep decorations simple. It can be tempting to
spend a lot of money decorating your room or
your house but a few big strategically placed well-
thought-out decos will do the trick and establish the
theme of the evening.
In fact, once a party has started, most guests won t
even notice the decorations. You are also potentially
inviting a whole lot of mess. Keep it simple and
tasteful for maximum effect. Flowers are beautiful
and can be enjoyed well after your party is over.
Unless you are particularly good at public speaking
or are side-splittingly funny, short and sharp
speeches are always best (aim for two minutes).
Make them personable but don t be afraid to say
something a little bit outrageous. People have heard
the standard garb a hundred times before so try to
show some personality and have some fun with it.
Having said that, if you are no good at telling
jokes, don t. If you can t pull off sarcasm, keep
your sentiments sincere.
Whatever you do, be prepared. Being worried
about the quality of what you have to say during
the night can ruin your evening.
Do not have much to drink before you
have to speak.
There is a burgeoning industry in event
organisation and for good reason.
These capable people can take all the pain out
of your next function and ensure everything runs
like clockwork, freeing you up to concentrate on
making sure your guests are happy, have a glass of
wine in their hand and someone to talk to -- and
enjoying the party yourself.
The good party planners have organised hundreds
of parties before, know the pitfalls and can advise on
all aspects of preparation. They can often save you
a lot of time and money by doing things smart.
Don t clean up until well after your guests have
gone. Nothing says "time to move" more than a
hostess collecting dirty glasses. Enjoy the party
with your guests right to the end -- then worry
about the dishes later.
Be prepared to call taxis, think ahead about
guests who might be able to share a ride together.
You might even consider organising a maxi-taxi or
bus to take them home.
But in all this organising and planning you
must never forget the whole point of the exercise.
Above all, your guests -- and you -- must have fun.
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