Entertaining Outside the Home
I love to throw a good party, especially at home. But sometimes entertaining outside of the home is the best solution for a celebration. In addition to offering convenience for you (no clean up!) and your guests, it can be an economical choice, too.
My past “out of house” party venues have included a pumpkin patch, an IMAX theatre and of course, local eateries.
Recently two coworkers and I hosted a baby shower for a fellow coworker. We knew we wanted an “Alice in Wonderland” theme, so a tea party seemed ideal. We were able to find a local English gastro pub that featured daily high tea. Because high tea is a prix fixe (fixed price) menu, we were able to work out a group rate that was about what we would have paid for food and beverage anyway.
Luckily, the mother-to-be favors a pink and brown color scheme, and the restaurant had brown and white linens. Adding touches of pink was a cinch with balloon bouquets for each table, pink butter mints sprinkled on the table and pink and brown gift bags at each place setting.
Although the bags look extravagant, they were relatively inexpensive to put together. We found tea infusers online for a couple dollars each, then added a custom blended tea that we called “Lavender Lullaby” from a local tea shop. I printed bag tags with my color printer in just a few minutes. Filling individual tea bags took the most time and patience! Then it was just a matter of setting up an assembly line of bags (from www.nashvillewraps.com) and dropping in tea bags, the infuser and a brochure about tea (free from the tea store), then topping them off with some pink tissue from my local Party City store.
Because high tea is served in courses, it kept the afternoon on track and we could skip the shower games. Instead, we opted for “new mom advice cards” that every guest filled out. This also encouraged conversation at the tables. Later we organized all the cards into a photo album.
Guests stayed briefly to chat and wrap up the party after the gifts were opened. We paid the bill and were free to go. The guests appreciated the central location of the restaurant and the abundance of parking, which can sometimes be an issue at a private residence.
It was a very satisfying hostess experience!
Besides leaving the clean up for the restaurant, entertaining in a restaurant provides a certain finality to the festivities—no guests lingering on your sofa until the wee hours. And you can always leave, even when the last guest refuses to go. (Anyone who’s had the person who just won’t leave when all you can think about is going to sleep because it was a really long day/party knows what I mean.)
Here are some tips for entertaining in a restaurant:
- Pick a theme and a color scheme; it simplifies decisions about decorations.
- Coordinate with the venue’s colors where possible.
- Keep the favors simple and easy to transport.
- Use ice breakers or other devices to encourage table conversation.
- Keep the menu simple; work with the venue for a prix fixe menu.
- Split the cost and the responsibilities with other hostesses.
- Confirm what time you may arrive to decorate and set up, and see if restaurant staff is available to assist.
- Confirm the number of tables you will need, including a gift table, and any special requests.
- Many restaurants have private dining rooms for parties at no extra cost.
The next time you’d love to have a get together or a celebration, consider saving yourself a lot of time and effort and look to entertain outside the home.