by Ashley Witzenberger and Sarah DeFelice
Summer in Vermont means lots of fun parties and events. If you’re planning one of your own—be it a wedding, shower, birthday party, anniversary, or fundraiser—at your home, don’t stress. As owners of The Event Boutique, a full-service event planning and design company in Montpelier, we are happy to share the strategies and techniques we use to make your party and planning a huge success.
An event in your home can be as simple or as extravagant as you want it to be. It’s all up to you, and these tips will make you look like a pro!
INVITATIONS: They say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, and this is especially true for an event. Your invitations are your guests’ first glimpse into your event, so make it a good one. Today, there are beautiful and whimsical online and printed invitation options; use this to your advantage. Or invest in a local artist to create something unique.
PARKING: As a host, you want to create a positive guest experience upon arrival and it starts with parking. Use signage to direct your guests. Depending on the size of your event, don’t forget to check in with your neighbors and let them know to expect multiple cars parking on your street.
INTRODUCTIONS: As guests arrive, it is gracious to make everyone feel welcome and introduce people who might not know each other. Making connections is important. This is a great “job” for guests who offer to help.
ENGAGE THE SENSES: Things such as color, lighting, and music are very important in creating the right atmosphere. Think about the five senses and make sure to hit them all.
DÉCOR DU JOUR: Look around your house for items you can use in a different way. Or, consider using everyday items in an unexpected way, such as pineapples as candle holders.
We love to get creative with tablescapes by using photos, fruit, gourds, or ornaments. Anchor the space by using table runners, mirrors, candles, or greenery and vines from the backyard. For a seated affair, a cheese or charcuterie display in the middle of a table for guests to help themselves is perfection.
FOOD BARS: Food bars are all the rage and can work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. This setup doubles as an activity for your guests and allows people with allergies and dietary restrictions to customize. These bars can be very simple and add to creative décor!
A burger and dog bar is a way to elevate a tried and true of summer. Serve choices of beef, chicken, dogs, or veggie burgers and dogs topped with yummy Vermont cheeses. Then get creative with unusual toppings such as peach chutney, salsa, pickled veggies, grilled pineapple, avocado, roasted tomatoes, baked beans, jalapeno peppers, or maple syrup, along with the usual condiments—bacon, caramelized and raw onions, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, mushrooms, and pickles.
Other ideas are a baked potato bar, bagel bar, crepe bar, burrito bowl bar, waffle bar, or s’mores bar. These are easy to setup and fairly inexpensive.
COCKTAILS: You don’t need to stock a full bar. Choose a signature drink. We recommend one that can be pre-mixed so guests can help themselves. Use light liquors or consider a Prosecco cocktail.
Rosé wine is summer in a glass and very trendy. We love a fresh fruit or an herb garnish to up your cocktail game.
Plan three bottles of wine per four guests, and three to four cocktails per guest for a two- to three-hour cocktail party. Always make sure that there are non-alcoholic options and water readily available.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS: It’s the small details that make your guests ooh, ahh, and feel special. For example, place a bud vase or a small tray of travel size toiletries in the bathroom on a beautiful tray. It’s unexpected and shows your guests that you’ve thought of everything.
STAY COOL: If your event is indoors, make sure you set the temperature lower than you think it should be at least two hours in advance. Once people start to enter the space, it will get stuffy quickly, and no one wants to be hot at an event, even in the winter.
INSURANCE: We always recommend you check in with your insurance company to make sure you are covered. Although cliché, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially of you are serving alcohol.
PLAN B: If you don’t have a backup plan, you will need it. Outdoor events in Vermont are always at risk. Have an indoor option planned, or make sure your tent has sides and can comfortably fit all of your guests, tables, and chairs.
GO PRO: Think about hiring professionals to help with planning and execution. Consider a caterer, bartender, florist, and event planner. We have amazing talent here in Vermont, and these people can streamline the process and should maximize your event investment of time and money.
Even if you don’t use any of these tips, we have one mandatory piece of advice, if you have fun at your event, so will your guests. Don’t sweat the small stuff, things are bound to diverge from your vision a bit, and that’s okay. Planning an event should be enjoyable, and now you’re ready to be the talk of the town while leaving your guests wanting more.
Ashley Witzenberger is a member of the board of directors of The Bridge. Learn more about The Event Boutique at theeventboutiquevt.com, and Instagram and Facebook, @theeventboutiquevt.