Party planning should be fun and easy, so get things done in 15 minutes or less.

The 15-Minute Party Planner's blog breaks down basic party-planning tasks into simple actions that take 15 minutes or less. We're not here to make you the next Martha, we're here to help you be crafty quickly!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A guide to choosing seating for special events

Maybe you've got a big event to plan (a wedding reception, perhaps, or maybe a weekend-long scrapbooking retreat) and you're thinking that there's no way to boil the tasks down into manageable chunks. Fear not! Here's a handy guide to seating. Commit it to memory (or simply bookmark this page), for easy event planning.

Banquet-style seating

What it looks like: Rooms set up banquet-style typically use round tables that seat 8 people (60” rounds) or 10 people (72” rounds). (Occasionally, you will find banquet-style seating that uses square or rectangular tables instead.) The tables are then spaced evenly throughout the room.

When to use it: Banquet style seating is best for wedding receptions, award banquets, and other large events.

Theatre-style seating

What it looks like: Chairs are set up in straight lines and all face the front of the room. There are no tables or desks.

When to use it: Theatre-style seating is best for presentations or lectures that do not require participants to take notes. Theatre-style seating is also often used for graduations. The style is less for special events and more for meetings and conferences.

Schoolroom straight

What it looks like: Schoolroom straight seating uses tables and chairs set up in straight rows facing the front of the room.

When to use it: Schoolroom straight seating is best for presentations where participants will be taking notes. It’s also a good set up if your guests will be using a lot of table space; use this set up if you're coordinating a scrapbooking or bingo party.


What it looks like: People milling around with drinks and/or food. A few long tables are used to display food and there can be a bar present. Some smaller tables are provided for guests, and are usually of the high-top variety so that people can stand and chat. Chairs are placed along the edges of the room. An alternative to this setup is to use limited seating at standard-height tables.

When to use it: Reception-style rooms are set up to encourage the flow of traffic in a room so that guests can mingle. This is a great set up for networking events, cocktail parties, and other events where the focus of the party is on talking to other guests. It is also a good choice when hosting an outdoor party, since not much seating is required. Additionally, if you're hosting a wedding reception or networking event, reception-style setups are often less expensive than a full sit-down meal.

Other things to consider

When planning the seating for your party, keep in mind all the factors that will affect your room layout, such as the age of your guest (high-top tables may be hard for the very young or the very old, who are in greater need of seating), the actual shape of the room (Are there columns in the way? Are your seats facing a row of windows letting in blinding light?), and safety regulations (Can all guests access an exit? Are you complying with local fire codes?). In the end, choose the layout that will work best for you and your guests, and enjoy the festivities!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

3 easy baby shower games that require little or no prep work

Planning a baby shower is a wonderful way to honor a mom-to-be. And while games can help liven up a baby shower, there's nothing worse than having to uncomfortably participate in some of the cheesier baby shower games like Guessing Mom's Tummy Size. For easy baby shower games that won't be an embarrassment and require less than 15 minutes of preparation, read on!

Baby Shower Bingo
To keep guests from getting antsy while the mom-to-be is opening gifts, try playing Baby Shower Bingo. Unlike a traditional bingo game where someone calls out numbers or words that are then marked off the bingo cards, Baby Shower Bingo includes items that a new mom is likely to receive at the shower such as diapers, bibs, and teddy bears. You can find easy-to-use templates online, or create bingo cards of your own. The first person/people to get bingo win a prize!

Helpful hints:
  1. You can personalize your Baby Shower Bingo cards by looking at the mom-to-be's gift registry. In addition to general baby supplies like bottles and booties, use spaces on the bingo cards to add some specific items that have been purchased from the registry like a Diaper Genie, a certain storybook, or bedding that matches the nursery theme.

  2. Make sure you have a few variations of the bingo cards, or all of your guests will win at the same time!
Peruse Your Purse
Baby showers are often ladies-only events; if the shower you're planning will be made up of women, try playing Peruse Your Purse. This is a simple but energetic game that requires no prep work.

To start, make sure everyone has her purse. Then, call out an item; the first woman to retrieve the item from her bag wins a raffle ticket. You can play this game as long as you like and can make the items as generic or specific as you'd like. Most women, for instance, are likely to carry a pen, but only a few women are likely to have a red pen or one from a hotel. If the game is going too quickly, simply make the items more specific -- ask for cinnamon gum, Cover Girl makeup, or a license proving an August birthday, rather than the generic alternatives.

Helpful hints: It's easy to generate ideas for this game on the spot, but if you'd rather have some items prepared, you can write yourself a quick list before the party begins.

Additionally, at the end of the game you have two options to declare a winner:
  1. Whoever has collected the most raffle tickets wins a prize.

  2. You can call out raffle ticket numbers throughout the party and give away small gifts to whomever has the matching tickets.
What's Missing?
To play What's Missing you'll need a decent-sized tray (or a small toy box) and a variety of baby items. Try for about 12 or 15 items, and make some of them nearly identical (e.g. use two pacifiers – one blue and one green – and two different jars of baby food). Place the items on the tray and give everyone 15 or 30 seconds to study them. Then, walk into another room, rearrange the items and remove an item or two. When you get back into the room, give everyone another minute to figure out what is missing. Make sure your guests are specific! Then you'll know who noticed the different-colored pacifiers or the two flavors of baby food.

You can play this game just for fun or can give prizes to either the person who is most often correct, or the woman that notices what’s missing the fastest.

Helpful hints: If you're the tricky sort, show your guests the tray of items without telling them that the tray will be part of a game. Instead, just casually talk about the cute things the mom-to-be has been gathering for the baby's arrival. After everyone has seen the tray, leave the room to remove an object or two, then return and announce the purpose of the game. It'll be fun to see who can figure out what's missing!