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Deb's Desk: Party Prep

Visualization is, quite literally, what dreams are made of and can be an incredibly useful and entertaining tool, especially when planning a celebration of your own. First we visualize, then we start preparing. And, if there’s anyone who knows how to turn party dreams into realities, it’s lil’ Deb Waterman Johns. She’s hot off the party planning skillet after hosting the 14th Annual Go Bo! rager at her home in Georgetown last weekend. Trust me y'all, hosting is a habit, so you're gonna wanna get like Deb.

As I said, visualization is a highly potent exercise. Once you’ve done the “envisioning” (as Rosemary Sanders calls it) all bets are off. You’ve manifested your special, dreamie feelie into creation, and now it’s up to the universe to present you with a version of your fantasy that most accurately resembles what you’d envisioned. This manifestation doesn’t come without action, however. Say you’ve “envisioned” yourself in a funky and flattering, silk kimono mini dress with stacked suede platforms, flirting it up with an old crush from college at your best friend’s rehearsal dinner. Cool, we can cross the easiest step off our list. You’ve planted that juicy little seed in your subconscious, which means the basic floor plans are drawn. Now, you must scour your favorite sites for said silk kimono mini dress. Fortunately, you have a pair of black Steve Madden platforms that will get the job done, so those are taken care of. Next, you should probably make sure “old flame Jones” isn’t off limits. Look at you now! You’re halfway there (and living on a prayer).

With great themes comes great responsibility. You want a theme that’s gender and age inclusive. Considering your audience is key. If they’re coming to your theme party after a long day at the office, you want a theme with flexible costume options. Deb’s themes always cater to the needs of the lowest and highest common denominators. With a 60’s theme, you can go as simple as a concert tee and jeans, or ball out and buy a vintage Mondrian shift and patent leather go-go boots. Either way, everyone wins and feels comfortable.

Schedule your event wisely. Friday nights are smart, because it’s harder for your guests to bow out. People talk on Fridays and hype each other up for the weekend, especially office communities, like ours. If we’d heard word of anyone bailing on Go Bo!, you better believe we would have tied them to their rolly chair and pushed them up to the Johns house ourselves. Saturday nights are fine, but people tend to lose momentum if they went out the night prior. Also, themes can tend to get a little more bourgeois for Saturday night events, and sometimes that deters guests as well. We can’t control the weather, but remember to check your apps the week of. Early “fall” can be super sneaky with temperatures ranging from 65 degrees to 95 degrees or dump a monsoon.

Ben procured 2 Volkswagen Beetles on Craigslist selling for $300. Did they run? No. Were they rusty? Yes. But, Ben keeps roughly 20 post-it notes of ideas in his back pocket, so he commissioned Megan and me to paint them on Labor Day. They were a Labor Day labor of love for a Summer of Love occasion. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but TOOT TOOT. Seriously, the bugs were the most photographed objects since the dumb “hot dogs or legs?” movement. Everyone signed their names in Sharpie (and paint, my nightmare). Ben also had the novel idea of lifting the hood of one of the cars and filling it with beer. We like to party, can you tell?

Inflatables, balloons, fabrics and inexpensive yardage, and converted “junk,” and little, extra touches sprinkled about are great fillers if you have a lot of space to decorate. This doesn’t mean spending gobs of cash on something like ice sculptures, belly dancers, or a petting zoo. Do the opposite of those things. Find a couple of large items for cheap prices and find a way to “creatively enhance” them.

Deb loves inflatables and fabrics in particular because they’re easy to deflate, fold flat, and store for later. This said absolutely utilize and repurpose things you may already have.

We all know party favors are the best. Period. Forever. Case closed. Favors can come in all forms, so hear me out before you get super bummed about shelling out more cash for your spoiled little guest babies. You can spoil your guests without selling your prize cow, the farm, and daddy’s pickup truck. Ordering personalized plastic cups for the bar? That’s a party favor. Ordering a trillion lei’s for a luau? Those are favors too. Some people will try to take props from your party on their way out. If you can bear parting with a pool float or two, let it slide. Otherwise, put away the valuables. When the moon is out and lights are low, party guests can turn into wild kleptos.

Of course, make sure you craft a funky cool, little hari-krishna-opium-den for your guests *kidding.* In all seriousness though, feel free to create some intimate seating alcoves for guests who don’t feel like party rocking on the dance floor or who want to catch up with friends and chat in a nonchaotic setting. Deb found these sicky-sicky-gnar-gnar inflatable, glitter chairs at Urban Outfitters, and I’m dying to get two for my own home.

Remember that regardless of theme, inclement weather, or party favors, every gathering is a hit when you’ve got wonderful friends, a beat, a bar, and maybe a tray or two of, like, some bagel bites.

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