The unexpected makes a party memorable. Guests talk about it for months afterwards around the water cooler and for years afterwards at family get-togethers. My Aunt Dorothy fell into the pool, fully clothed, at a backyard party, but that’s not the kind of surprise I’m hinting at…Of course, I’m talking about the music!
Coming up with something new and inventive every year can be a struggle, so I’ve got examples to get your imagination going….
The winter Christmas party doesn’t need to be run-of-the-mill. I’ve donned the Elizabethan Renaissance-period costume, complete with the ruffled collar and hoop skirt, and played old English holiday music. Guests munched on finger foods, including turkey legs reminiscent of a feast thrown by King Henry VIII (but guests didn’t toss the bones over their shoulders and an indoor bonfire was absent):
Not fanciful enough for you? How about the harpist making an appearance as an angel? I’ve donned angel wings. The darned things fit uncomfortably and shed white feathers as I play, but watching the delight unfold on guests’ faces was well worth my discomfort.
Here’s the key: Shift away from the ordinary. Let the music, the food, and the visual design of your event revolve around your well-crafted central theme.
Of course include traditions, such as your mom’s pumpkin pie recipe that includes that hint of bourbon. Without staples that your guests expect, your party could disappoint a few people. Just throw in a little unexpected whimsy so that everyone will be eager to see what you’ve got up your sleeves for next year.
Do you get burnt out on hearing the same old holiday music? Change it up with selections from How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the “Chipmunk Christmas Song”. A bit of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns ‘n Roses played in between all the fa-la-la music staples will certainly make guests notice the music. They’ll wonder, “What’s she going to play next?”
The only rules about creating the party music playlist are rules of your own making. Mix and match with the theme, or even encourage your guests to make music requests on-the-spot, at the party.
Take my recent performance for the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) Impact Awards. This annual black tie event honors individuals who make a positive impact on local communities. As the name of this event suggests, every bit of the celebration aims at making an “impact” on the guests.
Kate Patay of Patay Consulting, invited me to perform on a balloon-festooned stage with the instructions to, “Surprise the guests.” I knew a number of the attendees and played their favorites–They lit up and applauded, even during the silent auction.
The entire evening was about going “outside the box” to wow the guests. The music had to stand up alongside the grand prize item in the silent auction: a cherry-red Porsche Boxster (I still can’t figure out how they rolled that thing onto the ballroom floor of the Silver Legacy Hotel).
Your party plans need not be so grand. Who says you must invite hundreds to create the best memories?
The most memorable party—The wedding proposal for a party of two—is the most endearing when set to just the right music. Elaborate wedding proposals are not necessarily the rule. You don’t need to be over-the-top to guarantee a “Yes!” during the holiday season. All you need is sweet romance.
Select the music that your intended loves, the music that pulls at the heart, and you’ve got it nailed. Doesn’t matter where you pop the question—In a restaurant where the ring sits atop the dessert or in a castle turret at a Napa winery—The harp music ties it all together.
Cool music is memorable music.
I hope I ignited your imagination or brought back memories of the best party you’ve ever thrown or attended. Here’s my invitation: Help out party hosts that are saying “Bah Humbug!” to the party season.
Comment below to share your party advice. Transport us to the land of fun music interwoven with the theme, menu, and decor, and my “Velvet” CD, filled with romantic standards, is yours. It creates the perfect background for winding down after your holiday festivities or to set the tone for a holiday proposal. (You’ll receive the physical CD if you reside in the continental U.S., and a digital download if you live elsewhere).
Hosts are planning their end-of-the-year shindigs and need your suggestions right away for their upcoming parties. So, I’ll close these comments by December 15th (or whenever I run out of “Velvet” CDs). Note: As of December 4th, I’ve run out of stock of the “Velvet” CDs! Thank you for your wonderful party advice!