For the most part, people these days have the whole party thing down. We know how to get our friends together, throw on some tunes, and have a good time. But, when it comest to throwing an extra special shindig, it never hurts to look for tips to throwing a party from some classic, old-fashioned bashes.
By doing so, your party will have a charming sense of nostalgia, while also scoring you major points with your friends. "People might want to use old-fashioned ideas for their events because it gives a nod to classic entertaining and family traditions," Gina Wade of Gina Wade Creative, a leading entertaining expert and special events planner in Los Angeles, tells Bustle. "Now more than ever, people feel the need to connect and celebrate family and friends and adding classic and traditional elements gives a sense of history and pride to any event."
Also, back in the day, people seemed to be more inclined to give their parties a personal touch, which is another thing we should bring back. "Part of the allure of an old-fashioned party is that people took time to make things themselves," author and life coach Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. "Whether this was the food you'd serve your guest, a fun game everyone would play, a cleverly decorated dessert, or even a homemade party favor, you were certainly in for a good time!"
And the good news is, it doesn't take much effort to really show people you care. Here are a few charming and creative ideas experts say will really bring something special to your next party.
1Send Out "Real" Invitations
Try sending out real, hand-written invitations to announce your next get-together, for a personal touch. "Today, most people use social media invitations for events, [but] being invited through a social media site is very impersonal," Jacquelyn Youst, etiquette expert and president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, tells Bustle. "It is more charming to send an invitation by mail."
2Throw Together Something That's Homemade
While you don't have to stress yourself out and stand in the kitchen for hours, it's always fun to serve something homemade at parties and get-togethers — even if it was super easy to make.
"Some people revel in cooking or baking, while others, not so much! If you are in the 'not so much' category, it's OK," says Myra. "There are simple and fast ways to make something memorable for your guests."
She suggests pureeing fresh fruits and freezing them in ice cube trays to be used as a popsicle-like snack, or as pretty garnishes for drinks. "In less than 10 minutes prep time, you've created something different and memorable!"
3Get People Up And Moving
If you're worried about your party falling flat because everyone's sitting around looking at their phones, take a tip from the past and plan ahead by setting up a few interactive experiences, so people will be more inclined to get up and move around.
"Maybe [have] a board game, or even a baking hour," says Myra. "Whatever you choose, you'll help your guests connect better with you and others, and make your gathering more enjoyable."
4Set Out A Punch Bowl
Nothing screams "old-school party" quite like a punch bowl. "Today we have a lot of interesting mixed drinks," spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. "Bartenders come up with fun, tasty drinks, often with high-end flavored vodkas, etc. While these drinks are quite yummy, parties used to be more simple."
Enter, the punch bowl. "The host/ess would often have a fruit-flavored punchbowl with either Southern Comfort or Vodka as the alcohol," she says. And just like that, you have a simple party drink everyone can enjoy.
Clearly, records have a certain charm that your phone sitting next to a speaker just... doesn't. So why not whip out a few of your favorites and give them a spin? As Rappaport says, people back in the day "kept things simple and in many cases, people used to bring their favorite records or CDs with them." So, toss that out as a suggestion to your friends as well.
6Have A Potluck
One way to ensure your party has great food, and a certain creative factor, is to host a potluck. "Potlucks are a great way to take some of the stress of entertaining off the host and get guests involved and interactive in the event," says Gina. "To modernize a potluck, pick a cool theme and have people bring food that matches and accents that element. You can also get creative and do a potluck bar where guests are asked to bring fun garnishes and bar snacks to the soirée." Love it.
7Hold An Afternoon Tea
If you and your friends feel stuck in a rut when it comes to finding fun ways to hang out, Youst suggests bringing back the super-charming tradition of afternoon tea. All you need are a few teabags, some small snacks (like finger sandwiches or a fruit and veggie tray), and maybe a few candles if you're feelin' extra fancy. And just like that, you'll be having yourselves an adorable afternoon.
8Get A Little Bit Dressed Up
When throwing a party, feel free to wear whatever makes you feel most comfy for the event. And if that means dressing up, go for it.
Changing things up for the occasion could be fun, says Youst. And, of course, it's something most people went out of their way to do back in the day.
9Give A Thoughtful Toast
Old-style, thoughtful toasts that include witty anecdotes are something we should bring back, Carla McDonald, founder and editor in chief of The Salonniere, tells Bustle. "A good, old-fashioned toast is about five minutes long, thoughtfully prepared, and practiced, but delivered as though it was improvised," she says. "It should be based on a flattering anecdote told in a grand and sweeping style and include a few touches of witty, lighthearted, and kind ribbing to engage the group in a moment of shared laughter."
10Collect Up All The Phones
To give your next party a real old time-y touch, you might consider collecting up everyone's phones in a bowl, and leaving them in another room. As creative director Melissa Andre tells Bustle, "Lately, I’ve even had clients requests that guests leave their phone in their cars before walking into the party! Moving the focus on your event to a place where guests are enjoying the sounds, flavors, and people in real-time is definitely a trend I want to see making a huge comeback."
11Play A Game Of Charades
This is a classic you don't see much any more. But why not? "These games would help people get to know one another and the playful spirit of winning made things exciting," Rappaport says. So quickly explain the rules, and give it a try.
12Celebrate The Little Things
Back in the day, before social media, people found every little excuse to catch up with each other, whether it was sitting and talking on the porch, or popping over to each other's houses for dessert.
So why not bring that back? "Hosting small, but frequent events in your home is a great way to bring communities together that we just don’t see as often anymore," Rachel Bruzek, senior event and trend specialist of D’Amico Catering, tells Bustle. It doesn't have to even be something you'd necessarily label a "party," as long as it brings people together.
13Host A Fondue Party
Few things are more 70s than a fondue party, but that shouldn't stop you from having one. And hey, it might even be the reason to have one. So snag yourself a fondue pot, cut up some veggies and breads, and have at it.
As Bruzek says, "These parties create a sense of community in sharing. It’s like a form of entertainment because you’re all talking and sharing food.” And, of course, there's cheese.
14Bring A Hostess Gift
If you're heading off to a party, don't forget to stop and pick up a little hostess gift on the way. "[It was] always appropriate to bring whoever is hosting an event or party a gift," says Bruzek. "Whether it was flowers, candles, or a bottle of wine, you brought them a gift for hosting as a thank you."
People still do this today, just a little less frequently. So let's bring it back, OK? If if you simply show up with a bag of chips, that totally counts.
15Have Everyone Sign A Guestbook
"I have always loved a guestbook at an event," says Gina. "I often look back with great fondness at the notes left by my guests over the years. A great way to modernize a guest book is to add a Polaroid camera that guests can use to add a photo to their note." It'll give your party the perfect personal touch.
And really, that's what throwing a get-together is all about — taking the time to think up a few charming ideas that'll make for a fun evening, and bring all your guests together.