New look, the same Virginia photography you know and love.

Hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove fill the air as you begin lighting your favorite autumn candles, diffuse fall themed essential oils and bake treats for family and friends.  You take out all of your favorite fall décor and carefully place each piece in its rightful place for the season.  No matter what color your décor usually boasts, it is now accompanied by a harvest of gourds, pumpkins, cinnamon brooms and hay stalks.  We prepare our homes for special seasons so that we can experience the holiday vibe, and to make our homes a place to welcome people we love. 

Whether you are an experienced party host or not, it is important to know how to plan and host a great party.  Even if you’re currently thinking “I will NEVER host a party or large gathering at my house,” these tips from Katie Blackman, a professional wedding and event planner, will still be helpful.  You never know when it will be “your turn” in the future! 

Let’s get right to it!  First, know who you are going to invite and plan on “plus one” for each guest.  Decide how you will invite your guests:  will you send a formal invitation or a digital one via Facebook?  Your invitation should require some type of RSVP, such as a text message or verbal response, depending on how formal the occasion.  It is better to know and plan accordingly than be surprised by too many or not enough guests.

Next, it may seem boring, but clean!  Katie suggests getting your home “HGTV ready” for guests.  Make sure you stock up on cute candles and make sure that your bathroom has plenty of toilet paper.  Get a helpful house cleaning checklist from Molly Maid here

Think about the décor.  If you don’t want to break the budget, look for seasonal clearance from stores such as Home Goods or Target.  Have fun with it!   Depending on the season you are shopping for, find items such as flowers for Spring and pumpkins for Fall that aren’t too “themey”  As you decorate, play music to inspire you! 

Now, it’s time to plan for the food your guests will enjoy!  If you plan to have your event catered, order enough in advance so that your preferred caterer will be available.  During the holiday season, caterers often book pretty quickly.  If you want to save time and money, go the potluck direction.  Have everyone bring a dish and a bottle of their favorite beverage to share.  You provide the main course or dessert.  Many people enjoy sharing favorite dishes.  Be sure to communicate on the invitation what you would like people to bring (or in a group chat if it’s a smaller gathering with friends).  Make sure that you have dedicated space to place the food along with plenty of plates and silverware for everyone.

Last, plan to have fun!  If you prepare in advance you will have less to worry about during your party.  It helps to have someone else to help out before and during the event to make sure everyone is taken care of throughout the evening.  Usually, as long as there is food, wine, and music, people will usually have a good time.  However, it is also a good idea to plan for (and communicate ahead of time) some type of entertainment such as a gift exchange or a game. 

Happy party planning!