Throw a Favorite Things Party
A few weeks ago I hosted my annual Favorite Things Party and it was a blast! I have been having fav things parties for the last 5 years and it's pretty much bomb.com. It's always something I enjoy doing and I super look forward to planning for it! In other words...IT'S MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!!!!
A quick synopsis how it works: you and your friends get together and each person brings a certain number of their (lightly wrapped) favorite thing. Examples: 5 of their favorite color nail polish OR 5 of their favorite bottle of wine OR 5 of their favorite book, etc. Then you draw names and everyone goes home with a swag bag of goodies!
Obvi I got the idea for a Favorite Things Party from the OG herself, Oprah. I had visions of giving lots of gifts to my friends (my love language) and watching them hysterically cry over their obsession with me. But since it's painfully clear that I'm NOT Oprah, and can't afford to gift my friends anything but the occasional cocktail napkin, I decided a party where we ALL give gifts is best!
This post is going to provide you with a FULL breakdown of how to throw a favorite things party from logistics through food and decor!
Before we get into party details... You want to consider a few things...
When do I have the party?
Choose your own adventure on this one. I always have my party sometime in the month of January. I feel like it's a good month for a party. People are coming off the holidays which can be stressful. And the post-holiday blues are a real thing, so this is an event to look forward to! Plus I think gifts and I think holiday season. But I mostly think that ANYTIME IS A GOOD TIME FOR A PARTY!! YOU DECIDE!
Who and how many peeps?
I knew from the start I wanted this to be a Ladies Only event. Logistically I'm not sure how it would work with both men and women. A "couple's favorite thing party"? That sounds...unsavory. LEZBHONEST, girlfriend time is the best time!
And size DOES matter for this event! I think too few people and it doesn't feel as exciting. With too many people it can be overwhelming (take it from me)! My fav things events have ranged from 20 people to 45 people. I'll be real and say last year with 45 peeps it was insanity. Too big, it took a super long time to get through gifts and people lost interest. This year there were 35 people at the party and it was the sweet spot.
HOW will I document this occasion?
Documenting is key. Haven't you ever heard "pictures or it didn't happen?" That's my life motto. TAKE PICTURES! It flatters both guests and hosts alike when people are taking pictures. As a hostess I love when people consider something at my home to be picture worthy! Similarly, as a guest I feel like the hostess is trying to create memories with me when pics are taken. Either way it's just #winning.
One of the new things I decided to do this year was have a photographer. It's always fun to see people's pics on IG and snap (check out the hashtag #charcharsfavthings to see some pics through the years) but there's nothing like pictures from a professional camera! Almost all the pictures from this post were taken at the party this year. If you can find an affordable photographer I HIGHLY recommend it!
Another fun idea is getting a party hashtag going. It doesn't matter if it's not a yearly party. ALL PARTIES DESERVE A HASHTAG. FREE THE HASHTAG!!! I love being a complete stalker and looking through party pics with the same hashtag! And having a hashtag builds energy and excitement around a party! Send it out with the invite! It's fun and memory making.
If you're familiar with Snapchat consider buying a geofilter. I didn't know about this concept until a friends wedding last year. The wedding had it's own filter so when we took pictures in Snapchat we used that filter to document. IT WAS AMAZING.
You can go to Snapchat's website and buy a geofilter for $10. You design it and pick when, where and how long you want it to show up! I had one this year I must say...I felt pretty legit. Editor's Note: We will ignore the fact Snap put the wrong date on the party. They're lucky I wasn't someone getting married!
OK so now you know WHEN, WHO, HOW BIG & HOW TO DOC. Now let's discuss HOW you decide on the items!
Step 1-- figure out your price point. The past 4 years I've had people bring 5 of their favorite item that's $10. That price point is great. You learn about SO MANY THINGS you didn't know were out there! My sister brought Downy UNSTOPABLES one year and I won them. To this day I buy UNSTOPABLES because I be obsessed. But I probably wouldn't have purchased them on my own, you know? I needed it to be someone else's brilliant idea. I also think people can wrap their head around spending $50 to come to a party, knowing they'll go home with $50 of stuff.
But this year, to keep it fresh, I changed the price point. Everyone brought 3 of the same item around $20. I loved this so much. Three items instead of five made for a faster name pulling process! Not to mention a whole new world of things!
I just want to quickly note that in years past I would say on the invite "bring your favorite item that is $10 OR LESS." The "or less" part was stupid of me. Someone gifting a $10 bottle of wine might receive a $4 chapstick and that just doesn't seem FAIR, MY FRIENDS. So when doing the invite make everyone happy and just leave out the "or less."
On to Logistics...
When people first arrive have them drop the gifts off all in the same spot. I've put tables by my front door in the past, but I think picking a place where the gifts are "showcased" is best. This year we had all the gifts on the dining room table. (And it makes for a great picccccc!)
I've figured out that a ticket system is the best way to ensure that everyone's names get into the drawing. In years past I've had people write their own names on paper (dumb) and sign in (also dumb). You spend the first hour of the party sweaty, running around tracking people down. Writing your guest's names on tickets before the party, and paper clipping them together, is THE EASIEST WAY to make sure everyone is accounted for. TRUST AUNT CHARCHAR ON THIS.
My mom assigned herself the job of being at the door and putting people's names in the bowl when they arrived. This makes her brilliant. And also helpful. If you can appeal to someone to help you with this job, it will make your life easier! If not, asking people to put their own names in the bowl works too.
I like to let people do about an hour and 15 min of mingling before we sit and draw names. Peeps will be doing a lot of sitting in semi-silence during the fav things presentations, so this gives everyone a chance to catch up! And it usually takes about 90 mins for us to get through the presentations. Obviously this is dependent on the party size, but keep that in mind too when planning the agenda.
After awhile it's FAVORITE THINGS TIMEEEEEE!!! This is when you do your best Oprah impression trying to get everyone to sit. AND YOU TAKE A SEAT, AND YOU TAKE A SEAT, AND YOU TAKE A SEAT!!! It generally takes me 15 min to get everyone sitting. Enlist the help of one of your [louder] friends to assist in this. Also buy a whistle. It helps.
I usually get the ball rolling by presenting my favorite thing first. This year mine was charcuterie trays. I have never met a meat & cheese platter that I didn't
destroy eat in a ladylike way. I truly love charcuterie platters. And I love making them look lovely. Part of that means owning a good wooden tray! So that was my favorite thing. I included a tag that was a "how to" for making a charcuterie spread (drink every time I say charcuterie.) The person whose name I picked 3rd is the person who presents their favorite thing next. And so on!
And to be totally prepared I always have a few extra of my gift in case there is a snafu with the name drawing. In past years I think there has been some "user error". If someone comes up short you will be the Hostess Superwoman swooping in with a gift.
I have to say that once people start presenting...it's like something MAGICAL happens. Laughs for dayz. Awesome new things to win, for dayz. Women celebrating women and our ability to find amazing things, for dayz. It's just THE BEST EVER. I cry ever year at some point because it warms my heart so much to know, AND LOVE, so many fabulous women. #EMOTIONSSSSSSSSSS
We had soooooo many good gifts come through the door. I should and could, do a post on all the awesome discoveries peeps have brought to the table over the years. Amazing things in all shapes and sizes! Which brings me to my next point: people need bags to bring their goodies home in! Because you don't know how big people's favorite things are, I would opt for those tried and true big bags that Marshalls, Homegoods, and TJMAXX sell.
They're $.99 and they're the gift that keeps on giving. Editor's Note: Post holidays they discount the holiday style bags to $.50! So snatch them up! I have 20 in my house at any given time. Because that's what God wants. And what I need. Amen.
No party is complete without FOOD AND DRINK so let's discuss that right quick...
Over the years I've continued to see a running theme: people drink but they don't eat. Normally, I'm totally into these types of people. However I was stressing about how much food was going to waste. And also stressing about the amount of wine consumed with no eating. So I put a two-fold plan into action this year.
ONE: Food and drink were in a designated spot where there was room to walk around. I put the food and bar in my basement. This allowed people breathing room. I think when people are in a tight space trying to maneuver to food just doesn't feel worth it. The bar feels worth it though, obvi.
TWO: Passable food. Nothing that is hard to eat. Or needs to be cut. (Bye bye, salad!) Everything could be easily picked up or scooped onto a plate. And during the presentations food was passed! Just call me the Albert Einstein of favorite things.
Some examples of good passable food: Chick-fil-a nuggets (because life is for living), meatballs in a crockpot (can easily be put in cups), Bruschetta, pimento cheese on crackers, veggie cups, and pinwheel sandwiches.
Dessert may be an afterthought to party peeps, but to me it's the MAIN ATTRACTION. Trader Joe's has awesome little desserts in their frozen section. Plus Chick-fil-a cookies (see: life is for living) and mini cupcakes. DONE AND DONE.
DRANKKKKKSSSS! I think offering a white wine, a red wine and a signature drink gives guests a nice variety of options. Additionally water, Diet Coke and flavored sparkling are good non-alcoholic drinks. Obviously you know your guests better than me but I think #choices is key.
This year I sprung for a bartender and it was the best ever. Editor's Note: If you live in the DC area I'm happy to give you the company's info. They're very affordable! It took a giant load off my back to not be worrying about opening wine bottles or replenishing things. Plus he understood my intense, clinical need to make sure everyone had a festive straw. He's basically my bartender spirit animal. HOWEVER I've spent the last 4 years NOT having a bartender and I survived just fine. But I will say, he passed food during the presenting, so I actually SAVED money because food didn't go to waste. Editor's Note: That's some protip type talk and how you sell your HUSBAND on the idea of a bartender. You're welcome.
Last but NEVER least is DECOR...
Lucky for us the concept of the party sells itself, so there isn't a huge need to go over the top with decor.
I like a theme and this year's was black and gold. Why? Because I already had several cocktail napkins that were black and gold. And also black and gold are New Years-esque colors and the decor goes on sale in the new year! All my decor was purchased at Homegoods, Target or Walmart! Why? Because they're my favorite stores.
If you do nothing else...DO CANDLES. It's a game changer to any and all events. Please trust me on this! Votive candles, pillar candles, scented candles. BURN THAT MOTHER DOWN WITH CANDLES!!
So there you have it! The Complete Guide To Throwing A Favorite Things Party. Did I forget anything? Leave something out? Questions, comments, concerns? Are you sick of reading yet? I wanted this to be COMPREHENSIVE, YA HEARD.
My love for parties runs deep. And my love for giving (OK, AND getting!) gifts runs deep. And my love for celebrating friendships runs deep. A Favorite Things Party is a great way to spend happy times with friends, discover need ideas, AND create great memories!
Now in the spirit of giving, I need you to tell me something....What is YOUR favorite thing that costs $10? $20? Make up? Nail Polish? A kitchen gadget?
HELP A SISTER OUT AND TELL ME YOUR MAGICAL FAVORITE THINGS!!!