This is your party’s backbeat, so if your collection is less than stellar, why not ask your invitees to bring their own iPods or CDs? Hire a DJ or, says Rafanelli, just play these five albums over and over:
After the Playboy Mansion, by Dimitri from Paris (“Great pop, loungy and cool”)
Samba Soul 70! (“Cocktail, not totally authentic samba”)
Ultra Chilled 01 (“A great house-y feel, but sophisticated enough so that if you’re 55 you won’t be turned off”)
Waltz for Koop by Koop (“Remixed waltzes, which sounds dreadful, but it’s pretty cool”)
Industry Tips & Tricks
by Barnes & Noble Press /
April 27, 2015 at 9:37 PM
We’re continuing our series on marketing ideas that are effective and fun for potential readers and authors alike. We’ve seen scavenger hunts, social media swaps, and sassy q&a’s that all drove buzz and book sales. But what’s a launch without a party?
Today, we’re thrilled to have a guest post from author Maria Geraci on virtual book parties as she gets ready to celebrate the launch of her new book, That Thing You Do.
How to Throw the Best Online Party. Ever.
So, you’re not renting out the ballroom at the Ritz Carlton for your book release party? Let’s face it, who can? But, just because you’re publishing a book on a budget, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the art of entertaining. Think virtually. Online parties are easy on the wallet and the nerves. Plus, they can be an integral part of your social media strategy, which is critical to connecting with readers and ushering them to click on that all-important “Buy Now” button.
For the release of the first romance novel in my Whispering Bay series, THAT THING YOU DO, I put on my event planning hat and dived in with gusto. I want readers to feel welcome, have fun, and most importantly – fall in love with the hot heroes and quirky, smart heroines that inhabit the lovable, romantic small town of Whispering Bay on the Emerald Coast of Florida. To accomplish that, I had to strike the right tone by choosing the appropriate venue, invitation, guest list, and theme.
Without further ado, here’s are my Top Ten tips on how to plan an event to remember –
1. THE RIGHT VENUE: When you’re asking people to “hangout” with you for a prolonged period online, Facebook is the easiest way to connect to and retain an audience. The party can be focused on your Facebook page, hosted by a peer on their fan page, or take place on an event page. All you need is the basic ability to post, or alternately have a moderator/event host or fan page administrator post the initial message first for you, and you can then respond to comments beneath that post. Be advised, Facebook policies regarding the posting ability of fan pages in particular—but, anything really—can change at any time. It’s best to check their guidelines before deciding what kind of party will work best for you.
2. ENLIST HELP: We want to do it all. And, that’s admirable, but it can also be crazymaking. If you’re just bopping over to your best author friend’s fan page for a little meet-and-greet with their readers, it’s not a big deal. But, if you’re doing something more involved and inviting guest authors to take turns hosting the party during scheduled times, you’ll want to enroll the services of a Master of Ceremonies to assist with set up, managing the crowd during the party, culling any giveaway entries, and notifying winners. That way you can just wander around and mingle like the glam, superstar hostess with the mostest you are.
3. PARTY TIME: Timing is critical. Check out the insights area of your Facebook fan page to see when engagement is at its height and let that factor into your decision on event time. Also, be sensitive to other time zones. Make sure that anyone from the West Coast to the East Coast, and in between, can stop by comfortably.
4. A FRIEND INDEED: Invite your author pals who write in a similar genre to be special featured guests. And, don’t forget to heartily say “YES!” when they ask the same of you in the future. If you’re a midlist or no-list author, cross promotion through multi-author events can inject much needed energy—and attendees—into your party.
5. YOU’RE INVITED: Make sure featured guests authors are sharing the event on their timelines. Do the same on your page.
6. PARTY THEMES: Just because you don’t have a ceiling to hang streamers from, doesn’t mean you can’t decorate. Customize your event banner, make sure your profile pic is of yourself (and not your book) to be more personable, and purchase royalty free stock art images that you can customize with book quotes or fun sayings. For my Whispering Bay Bash, we’re going to party on the “beach,” and all of my shareable images are branded with that in mind.
7. STRUCTURE/ORDER OF EVENTS: If it’s a multi-author event, schedule guest authors for 30 minute increments so that each is featured prominently during their spotlight rather than having a bunch of overlapping posts. And, remember, Facebook restrictions may keep page owners—in particular—from making the initial posts themselves. This is where a moderator/event host comes in handy. They can post the initial message, and the guest authors will be able to interact in the comments below. If you’re not including featured guest authors, make sure that you have a steady stream of interesting and engaging content to post throughout the event since all eyes will be on you!
8. PRIZES: Who doesn’t like free romance novels?! Uh, not me! Ask the partygoers to answer a question or just pull a random commenter from posts where a contest is indicated as the winner of eBooks, book swag, or more.
9. FOOD AND TEQUILA: Well, this is the one drawback of being online. No 10,000 calorie dips, piles of wings, or margaritas. Encourage BYOB.
10. NETWORK: While you’re working the room, encourage attendees to like your page and include buy links in your posts and in the comment area, as well as links to visit your website, read special excerpts, or sign up for your newsletter. Not clearly illustrating how to connect to you and your books beyond Facebook is a missed opportunity.
Be sure to visit me on Facebook to get more THAT THING YOU DO party details, and if you missed it – get invited to the next one!
All About THAT THING YOU DO, Whispering Bay Book #1:
Imagine running into your ex after years apart. Eek! And, he still looks good. Maybe even better. Do you run for the hills? Or run into his arms? Allie Grant, heroine of my new funny romance THAT THING YOU DO, can relate.
Allie Grant doesn’t believe in second chances. She does, however, believe in the power of a permanent paycheck. So when a tipster reports that the soon-to-be demolished senior center in her hometown is haunted, Allie hightails it to Whispering Bay to get the scoop that could secure her dream job at Florida! magazine. What she finds, though, is far scarier than any ghost. Cue her ex-boyfriend, sexy construction foreman Tom Donalan.
When Tom catches Allie poking around his construction site, he quickly realizes his former high school flame is just as feisty as ever. And, heaven help him, her irresistible, mile-high legs still take his breath away. But Tom isn’t about to delay the building’s demolition because of a silly ghost story.
With neither of the stubborn exes backing down from their opposing positions, sparks fly. And, underneath the surface, the fire of their old attraction burns as hot as ever. When strange things start happening with increasing frequency around town, even a tough skeptic like Tom is tested. The question is, can Allie and Tom stop fighting long enough to get to the bottom of Whispering Bay’s ghost problem—and the more important matter of mending their broken hearts?
This post is all about how to throw the best graduation party.
You’ve thought about your graduation party for years now, but its finally time to actually yours. You have thought back to previous years and wondered what made those “best grad party of the year” parties so great.
When I graduated high school two years ago, I was so concerned about having a grad party that would be remembered by everyone.
I sat on Pinterest for house looking to find some inspiration (which btw, Pinterest has like no good grad party inspiration!!). After throwing my own grad party and attending what feels like 100 others, I have come up with the 10 things that all the best and most memorable graduation parties had.
This post shows you 10 ways on how to have the best graduation party of the year.
1. Food is the most important part.
Let’s be real, everyone always cares about the food. If your decorations suck but the food was amazing, people will remember your party as a great time. So, if you’re going to nail one thing, have it be this ;).
There’s a lot of different directions you can go about what type of food to have. The best parties I have been to had a full meal (and not just little snacks). For my graduation party, we had a ton of different dinner options for people to choose from (and I am almost positive there was vegetarian options as well). We had a sandwich of sorts (I believe baked ham), chips, fruit, and salad. We then catered in a few things like BBQ pulled chicken, mac n’ cheese, and another fruit salad. Ya know classic party food that people always like.
For my sister’s graduation party last year, they ended up getting a ton of different pizzas and displayed them on really cute cake platters. They had a bunch of different sides that went great with pizza and it was a big hit (while being super easy!).
HOWEVER, if you’re willing to fork out some cash, a food truck is so much fun!! We tried to get a food truck at our party but they were all booked so if you’re considering doing that decide now to book it! Yes, it could be a little more expensive but if you and your parents don’t want to deal with the food part of the party, get a food truck. It makes a statement and is (usually) so good. Honestly, the parties from my high school that had this, got a ton of talk about how good it was just because of the food truck.
If you leave your guests to their own devices, your party will be a dud. It’s not really meant to be easy for the host—it’s work to stir things up and make sure everyone is having a great night. We asked Eric Buterbaugh, a florist, perfumer, and stylish host in Los Angeles, to give us his best tips for throwing the ultimate party. ____
Get together. “I like cramming people into a small space. No one can sneak off and talk to the one person they know. (I once had a birthday party where we were packed in like sardines, and at one point, Clint Eastwood was nose-to-nose with my yoga instructor.) I also ask one or two friends to come early and help other guests get their first drink. It draws everyone in.”
Start strong. “If you hit people with a stiff drink when they arrive, they loosen up from the beginning. I usually send out trays of tequila shots. I love buffets, too, where people sit all over the place. It’s more relaxed.”
Crank up the volume. “Turn the music up two notches too loud—it gets everyone into party mode. I adjust the volume throughout the evening: high for arrivals, down during dinner for chatting, then back up after.”
Invite a wild card. “There are certain people who are over-the-top characters—they’re insanely funny or you know they’ll dance. No party is boring if they’re around.”
Make them laugh. “Sometimes I have my guests wear funny hats or silly masks for fun, especially if it’s a birthday. It’s Instagram gold.”
From kids’ birthdays to wild nights out, parties are a huge part of our culture, bringing people together in celebration. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, it may not be possible to host a party in person right now, but there are still ways to lift people’s spirits and different types of parties you can ho st . After all, if 2020’s foray into virtual events taught us anything, it’s that we don’t always need to meet in person to create an epic vibe. And soon, we may be able to throw a good old-fashioned party again – just with a few extra health and safety measures. In any case, here are our top tips for how to throw a party in 2021.
Choose a theme – and stick to it
Having a theme for your event – be it retro gaming, cheesy pop, or masquerade – can bring a unique energy to your party. It can also draw attention from the press, who often look out for more interesting events to cover in their “What’s On?” pages. Ask your audience to dress according to the theme and make sure your venue and entertainment matches it, too. For example, at a nostalgic gaming night, opt for an ’80s soundtrack and a neon colour scheme. The more unique the theme, the better, so we’ve put together 72 event themes to give you some party ideas.
Offer a unique experience
When planning to throw a party, the ultimate goal is to keep your guests talking for years to come. You also want them to tell their friends, and for everyone to be excited about your next soiree. If you can, start by finding a one-of-a-kind venue – old art deco cinemas, penthouses, even a super yacht if you have the right contact. With online events, consider using a virtual venue – in which attendees are turned into avatars – rather than a video conferencing platform so that guests can really immerse themselves in the experience.
Remember to give your event a hook – the thing that makes people decide it’s unmissable. This could be karaoke with a live band, a silent disco, or a live murder mystery taking place throughout.
Make sure it’s accessible
Parties are best when everyone can enjoy themselves, so for in-person events, it’s important to consider accessibility when choosing your venue. That doesn’t just mean making sure people with wheelchairs can navigate the building easily. It can also mean having gender-neutral toilets, breakout spaces for people with anxiety, and good public transport links for people who don’t drive.
Accessibility isn’t just an in-person concern, either. Even when you organise a party online , you need to consider how to make it a virtual safe space . Set up closed captions (subtitles) if possible, allow people to keep their webcam and microphone off if they’d rather, and choose easy-to-use software that everyone can access for free.
Appeal to your crowd
Your event doesn’t need to cater to everyone’s tastes. You should have a target audience in mind and understand what’s in it for them. So if you’re throwing a James Bond-style casino night, people will have the chance to dress up and flash some cash at the roulette table. When you’re writing the event description for your party, think about why people should come and what they’ll do during the evening. Tap into these ideas when you’re considering how and where to advertise, be it on social media, in the press, or through physical flyers.
Get the party started by making it interactive
The first hour of any party can be a little awkward as everyone settles in and gets warmed up, so try introducing ice-breaker games or quickfire check-in rounds. Don’t force people to participate – this can push them back into their shells. Let the extroverts dive in, and soon the atmosphere will build itself. It’s also a good idea to source some song requests when guests sign up for the event. That way, you can kick things off by playing popular tracks guaranteed to get people on the dance floor.
Source great entertainment
Whether it’s a live band, dancers, or a magic show, your entertainment is the thing people are most likely to remember once the party’s over. There are lots of entertainment ideas to choose from, but it’s best to go for something that fits your theme, be it cabaret singers or carnival performers. And when you’re running through your party planning checklist, have a think about how the event will flow. For example, have a DJ on hand to play music between sets, so that there’s no dead air during the night.
Consider the energy of each act, too – know when you want the night to peak. People are likely to be excited at this point and won’t have the attention span to dedicate to non-music acts. This is when they want to hit the dance floor (even if, for virtual events, it’s just in their living room). Remember to have an hour or so of winding down before the party ends, slowly moving from upbeat classics to more relaxed numbers.
Hire a strong team
Even if you’re a one-person operation, you can’t expect to do everything by yourself. Hiring staff will help to keep things orderly. If you want to organise a party online, it’s a good idea to have a moderator to handle comments and tech issues while you concentrate on hosting.
For in-person events, you’ll need someone on the door to welcome your guests, someone behind the bar to keep drinks topped up, and someone on hand to help with any questions or first aid. Sometimes the staff will be supplied by the venue, but, on other occasions, you might need to hire an agency. Make sure everyone’s dressed the same so that partygoers can immediately find them. Most importantly, hire a big enough team to suit your audience size. The last thing you want is 25-minute waits for drinks because not enough bar staff were brought on board.
Extend the experience
A top tip for throwing an epic party? Make the experience last far longer than the big night. Start by building up the audience anticipation gradually on your social media channels. Create lots of fun shareable links, and host competitions to reach an even wider audience and build attendance.
On the night itself, have a professional photographer or videographer on site – these images will make for great marketing tools in the future. Guests can share the pictures on their own social media profiles, and you can use the content in future video promotion . At virtual events, ask for permission from guests to use a screen recorder. If anyone’s uncomfortable with having their photo taken or appearing on video, give them a heads-up to turn off their webcam before you start.
Throw the best party with a party planning checklist
It may counteract the anarchic spirit of parties, but the most important of our party hosting tips and tricks is to ensure that you plan properly and stay organised. Download our event planning template to stay on track and bring the best party vibes.
Try these tricks for a well-planned (and super fun) backyard bash.
1. Beat bugs to the punch.
We spotted this cute (and genius!) idea on Mom 4 Real: Keep insects out of drinks by topping glasses with patterned cupcake liners. Poke a hole through the center for a straw.
2. Reorganize your buffet.
“Place chips and salsa, veggies, and salads near the beginning, and end with more expensive food items, like meat and fruit,” says Brittany Egbert at One Charming Party. “This will help stretch your spread, as people tend to fill up their plates before they get to the end.”
3. Offer easy-to-grab utensils.
“Wrap cutlery in a napkin — and tie with a pretty ribbon if you’re feeling crafty,” says Seri Kertzner at Little Miss Party. “The bunches look polished, and are easy to hold with one hand as guests fill their plates at the buffet.”
4. Choose sturdy, but lightweight plates.
“I love trendy melamine dishes because they’re not breakable,” says Courtney Whitmore at Pizzazzerie. “They’re perfect for poolside gatherings and backyard parties with kids.”
5. Opt for chic but inexpensive centerpieces.
Candles are Kertzner’s go-to table décor. She loves placing votives and pillars inside inexpensive lanterns sold at IKEA.
6. Get ice ready days before.
Instead of lugging bags of ice home from the grocery store, plan ahead. “A few days before a party, I start filling up large zip-top bags with ice from my freezer’s ice machine,” says Lexie Sachs, a product analyst in the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.
7. Make salad party-pretty.
Tori Tait at Thoughtfully Simple loves to present single-serve salads in berry baskets that she preps ahead of time. “It’s a quick way to upgrade salad to appetizer status, instead of having everyone pile up on leafy greens from one big bowl,” she says.
8. Serve frozen desserts with speed.
Like ending your bash with a cold treat, but don’t want it to melt while you’re doling out scoop after scoop? Try this trick. “Pre-scoop ice cream into small bowls, place them on a cookie sheet, and stow them in the freezer until you’re ready to serve,” says Tait. This is especially helpful when you have a bunch of kids clamoring for dessert all at once.
TELL US: What are your outdoor party planning tricks?
Photos: Courtesy of Mom 4 Real, Little Miss Party, and Thoughtfully Simple
When creating a party platter or party tray—such as veggie trays, fruit trays, cheese trays, and charcuterie boards—the options are endless. Don’t be overwhelmed. Use these party platter ideas to get you started. Customize each tray as you like for guests’ flavor preferences and the foods you find on sale when you make your grocery trip.
When is the last time you went to a party or potluck that didn’t serve a veggie tray? Hard to remember, isn’t it? It’s a standard party appetizer for good reason: Veggie trays are easy to make and can be pulled together on the cheap with our pointers.
Veggie Tray Tips
It’s not a veggie tray without a dip for dunking. We used a Buttermilk Dressing on this party tray.
Save money: Buy veggies whole and cut them up yourself. If time is a bigger concern, buy precut, but pay more.
Think seasonal: Choose produce by season and in an array of colors. Fruits and veggies not only look better and taste better in season, but also are more affordable.
Size-wise: Cut produce to a size that’s easy to eat but still large enough to scoop up dips.
Repurpose leftovers: Chop up leftover veggie tray ingredients to toss into a stir-fry, casserole, omelet, or soup.
Snack math: Plan on 4–5 dippers per guest and 2–3 tablespoons dip per guest. For 12 guests, plan 48 pieces (4–6 cups dippers) and 24 tablespoons (1½ cups) dip.
How to Make a Cheese Tray
Nothing tops cheese and crackers as a party starter, and the options are as endless as the variety of cheeses and crackers. Put together a stunning cheese plate with something for everyone using these tips.
Cheese Tray Tips
Save money: Stronger cheeses like blue cheese and goat cheese stretch far since guests tend to take less per serving. Mild cheddar and Swiss are affordable crowd-pleasers.
Add interest: Roll goat cheese logs in chopped fresh herbs, nuts, or spices for extra flavor and texture.
Have variety: Serve cheeses with a variety of textures, flavors, and milk sources.
Mix and match: Buy a few types of crackers, or look for boxes that come with an assortment of flavors.
Temperature smart: Most cheese tastes best at room temperature, so arrange the tray and set it out about 30 minutes before serving.
Repurpose leftovers: Cheese is fantastic as is, but you can use leftovers from your cheese tray to top salads, sandwiches, soups, pastas, roasted veggies, casseroles, and more.
Snack math: Plan on 3–4 ounces cheese, 4–5 crackers, and 1 tablespoon spread per guest. For 12 guests, plan on 2–2½ pounds of cheese, one box of crackers, and ¾ cup or 1 jar of spread.
How to Make a Fruit Tray
If you want to put together a party platter with virtually no fuss, a fruit tray is the way to go. Many fruits are already in bite-size form, so they require little prep.
Fruit Tray Tips
Don’t forget a dip for fruit dunkers. We made our tray with a Marshmallow Dip.
Choose variety: Pick fruits of varying flavors, textures, and colors for the most interesting fruit tray.
Keep it fresh: Even in season, berries and cherries can be pricey. Purchase berries just before serving since their life span isn’t very long once picked.
Get ahead: Most fruit can be washed, peeled, and sliced up to 24 hours before serving. Store fruit in separate containers in the fridge until party time. Cut up apples, pears, and bananas at the last minute to avoid discoloring as they stand.
Size-wise: Cut up fruit into manageable pieces for easy dipping and eating.
Repurpose leftovers: Blend fruit leftovers into smoothies, add to salads, top ice cream, or garnish cookies and cakes.
Snack math: Plan on ½ to 1 cup fruit, 2–3 tablespoons dip, and 1 cookie per guest. For 12 guests, plan 6–8 cups fruit, 24 tablespoons (1½ cups) dip, and 12 cookies.
How to Make a Charcuterie Tray
Charcuterie boards and trays are trendy in restaurants and as a party appetizer idea. Charcuterie is a French term for cured or cooked meats. Curing is the process of preserving meat with salt and sometimes other ingredients to add flavor. It could also involve smoking, depending on the product.
Charcuterie Tray Tips
Our charcuterie board includes caramelized onions and a purchased olive tapenade, but you can make both at home:
Watch cost: Charcuterie can get expensive. Cut cured meats into small, thin pieces so guests take fewer pieces. Check for sales in the meat case to save money. Adding bread, dried fruit, pickles, and nuts to the tray also helps make the food last longer.
Repurpose leftovers: Cured meats make great sandwiches or toppings for pizza or salad.
Snack math: Plan on 3–4 slices (1 ounce) meat, 2 tablespoons dip, and 2–3 crackers per guest. For 12 guests, plan on 12–16 ounces meat, 24 tablespoons (1½ cups) dip, and 24–36 crackers.
The term “potluck party” has an old-fashioned ring to it. We picture ladies in their Sunday bonnets and June Cleaver dresses, teetering in high heels while carrying a large dish covered in a checkered cloth. But in reality, potluck parties are an ideal form of entertainment for the contemporary host or hostess who would like to gather with friends but is too busy running between the office and the soccer fields to host a formal party. Whenever the impulse to host casual get-together strikes, you can call up your friends, neighbors or family, tell them you’re organizing a potluck, and ask them to bring along one dish to share with the rest of the group.
Organizing Your Potluck Party
Although the term “potluck” suggests a random assortment of dishes, it’s likely to turn out better when the host does a little bit of organizing. If you don’t want to risk the chance that all of your guests will bring only desserts, begin by assigning your guests a specific course to bring along. Next, ask each guest to commit to a general category of food even if they’re not prepared to tell you the exact recipe. After all, as much as we love brownies, five plates of brownies wouldn’t give much variety to your potluck and there would be a lot of leftovers!
When you’re the host, remember to dig out extra serving platters, baskets, and utensils before your guests arrive. Not everyone brings food ready to be served. You don’t want to be distracted from your guests because you’re pulling things out of your attic or cabinets.
Don’t forget that someone needs to be responsible for beverages. The host can supply them, or ask everyone to bring something they would like to drink with their dish.
As host, you can choose what your contribution will be. If enough people are coming, providing the location for the party and the dinnerware can be enough. Sometimes the host will stock the bar with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks including juices, water, and soft drinks. Often the host will provide the main course such as a turkey, hamburgers on the grill, or an egg casserole (depending on the time of the party) and ask guests to bring side dishes and desserts. It’s really up to you based on the size of your guest list.
Whether you’re hosting the potluck or are simply invited to attend one, here are suggestions for the kind of dishes that work best.