Gunjita Dhawan and Meher Sarid let us in on some party planning secrets.
The Budget: Even for the most elaborate evenings, it is essential for the efficient host or hostess to work on a budget. “It might not be a conclusive amount, but it’ll help you in segregating the deliverables for the evening,” says Gunjita Dhawan, Partner, Quotient. Be it the printing of an invite or for that matter the venue and the décor in mind — a budget is essential.
The Guest List: “A gathering, if small, has to have like-minded people, otherwise one spends the entire evening introducing one to the other or trying to be the arbitrator for common conversational grounds,” says Dhawan. In bigger gatherings, one can choose to invite varied people, but ensure that there is something to interest everyone.
The Venue: To pick an appropriate venue that fits in with the theme or intended celebratory cause of the party is imperative. These are basic things that go a long way in making or breaking a party. Also, a lot depends on the numbers and the kind of party one wishes to host—whether it’s a surprise party, a wedding party or a party for a handful of people. If you’re running short of time and are a bit tight on the budget, wedding industry consultant Meher Sarid suggests choosing nightclubs over farmhouses as they provide most other services as part of the package, and come out cheaper. That settled, what about the décor and themes?
Say it With Flowers: “Floral arrangements are in, and one could combine them with lots of candles and fabric draping, and tree sculpting (decorating trees with crystals and mirrors) for that surreal look,” says Sarid. “Again, the fabric should vary with the change in season—use rich embroidered fabrics in velvet and satin for winters, and opt for bright colours like wine red, sapphire blue, and rust orange. You could even combine fabrics like velvet and tissue for a dramatic effect.”
Light it Up: Lighting arrangements make or break a venue, and it varies with the colours used. Sarid recommends amber lights for a white set up and natural or a clear yellow light for darker colour schemes.
Music & Entertainment: “Live artists at the bar, be it flame throwers or bottle jugglers, or even a live singer at the food service area can help set up the right mood,” says Dhawan.
Food for Thought: If you’re planning to throw a small, intimate party for select people, Sarid thinks it’s better to opt for restaurants over caterers, as a lot of restaurants do offer to send in some of their own staff for your party. You can’t go wrong with the food if it’s a place you’ve tried out before, and it also works if you’d like it to be a homely affair. Five-star restaurants are a great option, too. “Break the buffet into two sections,” suggests Dhawan. “This will help accommodate the same quantity in tasteful servings, and help feed more people more efficiently.” Again, it helps to be season-specific, when one talks of cuisines. “Live cooking stations work for winters, so try and include teppanyaki, barbeques and South American fare in your menu,” says Sarid. “Do try a food tasting round in advance, if the caterers happen to be new. The fancy frills are all very well, but at the end of the day what matters the most is great food and great company,” Sarid sums up.