Oct 6th 2014

Tips for Planning a Rite of Passage Party

The rite of passage party!

I was recently privileged to be involved in organising a very special birthday party for an incredibly special young lady, charity fund-raiser extraordinaire, Kirsty Howard.  The party for Kirsty was to celebrate both her 19th birthday and to acknowledge her amazing fundraising efforts, and what a fabulous party it was!  Stars from television and stage came to wish her well and she even had personal messages from the Prime Minister and David Beckham!! So, whilst I can’t promise Mr Beckham for every coming of age party (I wish!), I can give you some helpful tips…

– This party is going to be loud, long and probably by the end, a little messy, so I would always recommend hiring a venue – that way, you have staff on hand who are used to hard-partying youngsters and you won’t have to worry about your carpets or your neighbours!

– So once that’s decided, what sort of venue?  Do your research – speak to other parents and gauge opinion on local halls, bars and hotel function rooms.  I recommend choosing a venue that has one big room and at least one other ‘chill-out’ room, with lots of comfy seating – this is crucial if you are inviting family as well as friends.  Also, aim to find somewhere that is easily reached by public transport, as you don’t want young party-goers wandering the streets afterwards.

– To theme or not to theme…..for this age group, I’d say YES, every time!  Fancy dress has seen a massive resurgence in the last five years, so don’t disappoint, choose a great theme and encourage everyone to get into the party mood.  Why not make the theme the year the host was born, film stars or ‘When I grow up I want to be…’ or, if you want a little glamour and mystery, make it a masquerade!  One thing I can guarantee, is that everyone who has made the effort will totally enter into the spirit of things and your party will be fun right from the off!

– Decoration – well, with your theme chosen, you can really go for it – but don’t forget, tradition decrees that there has to be a display of embarrassing childhood photos of the party host.  Rather than sticking pictures up everywhere, I’d suggest creating a Powerpoint style presentation to be displayed on a large screen throughout the evening..or better still, projected onto a building opposite (it worked for us!). Consider personalising the party with mini Champagne bottles with personal labels, cupcakes topped with embarassing mini photos of the birthday girl/boy, or mini gifts with mini-message tags for everyone.

– If you are providing food for your guests I suggest creating mini street-food stations, where guests can build their own mini-tacos, burritos or pittas with falafel.  A vintage sweet stand, offering Blackjacks, Drumstick lollies and Flying Saucers, will also be a winner.  And for later in the evening, what about bacon or halloumi butties – a great way to soak up the alcohol!

– Make sure you get your entertainment spot-on.  A good DJ is a must – get it wrong and you’ll never be forgiven!  e For this I would recommend hiring a professional event planner, such as TLC,  that will handpick a suitable DJ for the theme and age group required – the more information you can give them, the better the match.  Spend as much as you can on the entertainment – a great DJ or party band can make or break the party,

– So, with everything decided and a fabulous party planned, you now have to tell everyone!  Take time over your invitations by getting them designed properly with a high quality print-finish, so that they match the mood and theme you want to create. Or go for something different – create a bespoke invitation (we recently created a bespoke Monopoly board as a party invite) and start the story of your party’s theme with this special invitation. Think CD of music from the year you were born with bespoke cover, a poster of an important event from your birthday year, bespoke magazine cover….the list is endless.

Along with all the usual details, include a link to an Instagram page, where you and your friends and family can add images and costume ideas, to keep the fancy dress vibe going, as well as priceless shots from the big night itself!  I also have many of these