Wise to the Web: Using the Internet for Party Planning
I spent the better part of 1987 and 1988 planning my wedding. My fiancé and I had chosen the church in which he grew up for the ceremony, but neither one of us lived in that town. My job and his grad school took us to different cities, and we were 200 miles apart. To say that it was difficult planning a wedding in a town where neither of us lived is putting it mildly. My parents didn’t live there either, so I spent many weekends traveling back and forth. I visited venues for the reception, making appointments over the phone with managers and caterers. I met my mother at each place, and more often than not, we would realize the moment we viewed the banquet halls that most places did not fit my vision. Some were too small, others too vast. Some didn’t have a dance floor. Others didn’t have ample parking, or didn’t have capacity for our guest list. After weeks of appointments and disappointments, I did find a place that I liked and we booked it right away, settling on an open November date even though we wanted to get married in October!
I laugh when I think of that year, now. It was ridiculous and exhausting! In this day of instant information, it’s hard to imagine going through that again. There is so much knowledge right at our fingertips that makes planning parties and other gatherings so easy. Here are some resources on the Internet that will get your party started!
Look for Ideas
I don’t know if you’ve discovered a little place on the Internet called Pinterest, but if you haven’t, you must. To access this website, you must either be invited by a friend who is a member, or request membership directly on the Pinterest site. An online bulletin board, this site allows you “pin” ideas you find online in one central place, as well as peruse and even “repin” ideas you gather from other “Pinners” on the site. For example, if you are planning a baby shower, you can search for “baby shower ideas” using Pinterest’s search utility. If you see something you like, you can click on the picture and it will take you to the original source of the picture, which often contains information on how to execute the idea or where to purchase it. If you click on the name of the bulletin board where it is pinned, it will take you to that Pinner’s board where you might find even more ideas. Like what you see? You can “follow” that Pinner, and that person’s pins will automatically show up every day on your home screen. One word of caution, however: Pinterest is addicting. It’s a feast for the eyes and a world of ideas without end. Log on to Pinterest and you may forget to pick up the kids from practice or burn the casserole!
Narrow it Down
Another great way to gather ideas is from blogs. Some blogs come from amateurs who simply love to share thoughts and ideas, while others are written by professional designers, cooks, party planners, and even big retail corporations. Blog entries are presented in chronological order, so you can follow a blog and see how the party took place—from original ideas to the final event. Usually, the blogger posts pictures and you can see just how the party turned out! To find blogs, simply search “blogs on [your subject]”—whether it’s kids’ birthday parties, baby showers, or even basic entertaining. Another great thing about blogs is that if you find one you like, you will usually find a list of similar blogs listed by the author, called a “blogroll.” Remember to be specific in your search, and chances are, you will find it! Some of my favorite party planning blogs include The Party Dress, Tomkat Studio, and The Humble Nest.
Get the Word Out
Nobody loves a paper invitation more than me, but those beauties can be costly. If you want to get the word out quickly and inexpensively, consider sending an electronic invitation (like Evite or Cocodot) or one through social networking on sites such as Facebook. Electronic invitations are easy to create, customizable, and free to send. Facebook allows you to create an invitation and send it directly to your guest list via a message or by creating a group. Even if you can’t bring yourself to give up mailing your invitation, the Internet can still be your friend. Many websites, such as tinyprints.com, let you customize your invitation right online and view it before it is printed. You can even upload a personal photo or artwork to be included in your design. By searching the Internet, you might find that your favorite local printer has also gone to this way of designing and printing invitations, too, and may deliver the cards right to your door.
Everything from A to Z
The Internet can certainly help with ideas, invitations and décor, and it can also help with your menu. Many famous chefs have websites with recipes for everything from appetizers and cocktails to dessert and after-dinner drinks. You can find sites that organize a grocery list for you, time the meal based upon equipment in your kitchen, and even plan a theme menu for your Mother’s Day brunch! Google your favorite restaurant and you might find the recipe for the melt-in-your-mouth biscuits they bring to your table before the meal, or you might find the missing ingredient that finally makes your brownies taste like theirs! What plates and napkins will you be using? Chances are, your favorite kitchen or party supply store has a website you can browse before you go, making sure they have what you need in stock. Internet shopping is timesaving and simple.
By cruising the information highway, you can plan your party in a snap. So sit down, and search awhile… you may find that hosting a party today is a lot easier than it was in 1988!