Throwing a party has a lot of moving parts, especially when you want it to be something memorable for your guests. From preparing the food, to setting the table, to cleaning every crevice of your home as if no one actually lives there, getting the evening ready is an all day affair. Last weekend my amazing husband threw me a birthday party and he planned the entire thing himself, down to the kale salad and towering lemon cake that reflected my food style. I didn’t know the details until the day of and I have to say that it was pretty flattering having someone plan a night just around me. Of course, his vision was that I wouldn’t do anything to prepare, but I can’t physically sit around and watch someone else set up an event. I pulled out a few last minute tricks to tie the party together and give him a chance to enjoy all of the hard work that went into his planning. Most of the times it’s the little things that make a night memorable and these five tricks are quick and easy ways to elevate a party, plus most of them involve things that are already around the house or are inexpensive to buy.


1. Use wrapping paper as a table runner

Instead of looking for a good runner or damaging a wood table with food and drinks use a roll of wrapping paper to cover a wide strip of table. Plain kraft paper is always a great option because it is neutral and slightly casual, or try one with a simple pattern to add some interest.


2. Write the ingredients directly on the table

Some foods need a little explanation, but tented notes look boring and aren’t used at home often. Use a playful written text to call out the food options with arrows that point to each platter. This also helps layout the table so you know exactly where to place everything. Get creative and outline the plates or illustrate the food as well.


3. Give a tasty parting gift

I remember leaving birthday parties as a little kid with a bag full of trinkets and candy to enjoy on the ride home. While I have never been to a grownup party where toys were offered as a thank you I will never turn down a small parting gift. Line decorative bags along a table with homemade cookies for guests to grab on their way out the door. They’ll appreciate the sweet treat the next day or on the way home. Don’t have time to bake anything? Buy a store bought version and take the credit yourself.

4. Don’t underestimate white candles and grocery store flowers

A gorgeous arrangement of flowers and expensive scented candles are pretty stylish ways to add ambiance to a house, but those things add up and the money is better spent on cocktails (because that’s the important part really). Look online for a bulk candle store and stock up on unscented pillar candles in various heights. Any time you need some ambiance grab several and cluster them together on a table. Accent them with bright flowers bought from the grocery store rearranged in your own vase. I like bold spray roses because they last long and are sold in large bunches.

5. Make sure your guests get home safe

You want the party to go all night, but they guests have to leave at some point. Make sure everyone gets home safe by pre-ordering gift cards from ride share companies like Uber. You can register your party online to receive a gift certificate then give it out to your guests as they leave. It’s a last minute trick that your guests will always be thankful for, plus it ensures that those champagne toasts can go on all night.