For some of us—and by “some of us” I mean “me”—the prospect of throwing a winter party is more ominous than exciting. At least with summer parties, you can just put the guests outside, feed them summer food, and when things get slow they can watch the squirrels. But what to do in winter, when everyone is trapped inside and the squirrels are in torpor?
Consult event planner Katie Welsh, that’s what.
Welsh is the organizing talent behind this summer’s Callicoon Country Fair and the Farmhouse Project’s recent Makers Market, as well as working in event marketing and operations and starting a new event-planning business here. She’s born and raised in Jeff-Youngsville, graduated from Sullivan West, and has now come home to be with family and give back to her community.
“My family celebrates everything,” Welsh said. “I’m passionate about the creativity involved in special events.” Upbeat and full of positive energy, she loves to channel it into celebrations, which is why she now has The Family Tie Project, an event-planning service that will give you a hand if you already have party ideas (there’s always something interesting or fun to add), or do full-service event planning, including weddings.
“Katie was such a pleasure to work with, and she was involved in helping us plan the Makers Market at the very early stages of the idea,” said Shawn Lang, from the Farmhouse Project. “She has a great sense of logistical planning for an event that size and had great ideas for overall layout and decor, event scheduling and staffing. We couldn’t have done it without her, and we are very grateful for everything she has done.”
Planning a party?
Winter parties need not (and probably should not be) last-minute affairs like the one my great-grandfather spearheaded, wherein one morning he leaned out the bathroom window, shot a wild turkey (no hunting season then), raced downstairs, and festively hauled the corpse in to be turned into dinner for six. For that night.The guests had no idea they were invited, nor that there was a party. I’m sure my great-grandmother was grateful.
The virtue of planning is that it lets the party-giver relax and feel in control. Problems can be spotted right away, conflicts can be handled, and you have less to worry about.
Winter parties do offer challenges, said Welsh. Maybe your home isn’t Pinterest-ready. Maybe the space is tiny. But don’t despair. Welsh offers tips on how to create a joyous celebration in your home… and most of all, how not to be afraid of the prospect (see page 27).
Contact Katie at the firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 845/807-8551. Her website is www.thefamilytieproject.com.
Party planning tips
• Make a list. Make as many lists as you need to stay organized. “It all starts with the lists,” says Welsh. The guest list, the food for each course, the ingredients for the food. What music will be played? Activities? List more stuff than you think you’ll need. If something goes wrong, you’ll be grateful to have it there on paper.
• Appeal to all five senses. Vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch.
• What will make your guests happy? This is not necessarily what you enjoy. At a party, the focus should be on the guests, making them comfortable, creating an environment they won’t want to leave, said Welsh.
• Stick to a theme and a set budget. This will help with decision-making, she said.
• If someone wants to bring something, let them. Welsh recommends a dessert or a bottle of wine. “People don’t like arriving empty-handed,” she said, “This allows them to feel included.”
• Consider special dietary needs. Share the menu and the ingredients.
• Have fun with the décor. A tablescape can work wonders, Welsh said, and it needn’t be complicated. Forage for the decorations. Winter offers an abundance of greenery, red berries, interesting twigs. “Try twinkle lights,” she suggests.
• Nametags. Not the ones that say, “Hi, my name is…” Rather, these tags mark where people sit (making sure that guests who don’t quite get along are separated), they let new friends know to whom they are talking. Make your own. They can be little bits of art, they can be simple, but it’s another way of putting folks at ease.
• If things get slow, try games. Charades or an indoor scavenger hunt are always fun. Or try Are You There, Moriarty?, which my family really enjoyed. The Internet is full of ideas.