In March we celebrated my daughter, Sofia’s, 2nd birthday and we all had a blast, especially the birthday girl herself!
We had a magician entertain and interact with the audience, great music and nothing but laughs, great conversation and memories. Everyone especially loved how Sofia was completely into letting everyone know that SHE was the birthday girl as she pranced around happily carrying her bright, and lively birthday bouquet, jumping in the air and splashing around in the rain puddles.
With about 50 people in my San Diego home, I welcomed the opportunity to get creative with food options. My goal is always to offer something delicious, healthy, will accommodate mostly everyone’s taste and to keep it simple! This year I stretched myself and consciously chose to keep it local, highest quality, and serve a good cause – that’s why I chose Project Chop.
You can see here that Project Chop did not disappoint. The presentation was beautiful, the food was fresh, delicious and absolutely nourishing. So you might be thinking, Brenda, I can never throw a party and offer “healthy food because…..”
- My family and friends don’t eat healthy.
- Healthy food is expensive
- Everyone has different diets – ketogenic, pal
eo, vegan, gluten free, etc.
- Traditional food in my culture is just not healthy…
Trust me, I’ve heard it all and that’s why I’ve put together a few tips to help you throw a great party that is also filled with healthy food.
Tip #1 START WHERE YOU ARE
I’m Mexican. And traditionally for parties it is very common to have a “taquero” (taco man) at parties and/or food that is very meat focused – think birria, carne asada, pollo asado, etc. It is what it is. And if that’s where you are right now, meaning what you traditionally serve at parties is far away from offering anything that has to do with vegetables then don’t you dare try to take that away and go full throttle with salads and tofu.
Instead, what you want to do is start ADDING delicious, beautiful, and absolutely breath taking side items to complement the meal that are completely plant based. These side items can include salads, quinoa salads, chopped up veggies with hummus, etc. Get creative and have fun. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new things and be okay with outsourcing – meaning go ahead and buy the salads or plant based items already pre-made from places such as Whole Foods or other restaurants that offer delicious and healthy food.
TIP #2 START SMALL AND CREATE DEMAND
Keep the sides small so that they will run out quickly if you are just starting off. This creates the illusion of “high demand” and scarcity. But you need to make sure that the healthy side is extremely delicious and high quality because you want your guests to make comments to others about how delicious it is and how they didn’t think that healthy food could actually be so good.
You see where I’m going with this? Then, by the time they go to get some, it’s all or nearly gone. And that is what you want! So next time you throw a party, you can give them just a little bit more to the point where they will be asking you for more every single time.
TIP #3 IT’S ALL ABOUT TIMING
Timing of your party is everything. And by timing I mean the actual time frame of your party. Again, I’m Mexican, and in our culture there’s this unwritten rule or expectation that people will just be 1 hour late to everything regardless of what time the party starts. Not only that, but even if it’s a kid’s party if you put an end time, they will perceive it as if you are kicking them out after a certain time and will take offense to it (hilarious if you ask me…).
In our culture there’s this expectation to have a party go on for hours… again, it doesn’t matter if it’s a kid’s party, graduation, baby shower, you name it. So you have to keep all of that in mind and be strategic in your approach. I’ve been a mom for going on 5 years now so I’ve been working with this cultural expectation for a while now.
For Sofia’s party I strategically took the next step and cut down the time from 3 hours to 2 hours and made it from 4-6pm. For starters, I knew Sofia would be happy after waking from her nap at 3pm, could enjoy the party and then be exhausted and ready for her normal bed time routine starting at 7pm. This is about her, after all, right? Secondly, 4-6pm is not quite dinner time so I knew that I could keep the food semi- light. And third, I strategically timed what would happen during those 2 hours. Which leads me to tip #4..
TIP #4 ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE AN AGENDA!
Kids have short attention spans and a short window before they get cranky, tired and bored. And this honestly goes for adults in general too – ha! So you just have to keep things moving in a reasonable time frame. I knew I had two hours for Sofia’s party and I value people’s time and am very respectful of that.
People have things to do, kid’s schedules to tend to, travel time to consider, etc. So I wanted to be sure I covered the most important things during that time. So this is what we accomplished in the two hour window.
- 4pm – 4:30pm – Guests arrive and grab something to eat
- 4:30pm – 5:15pm – Guests were entertained by the magician which also allowed for plenty engagement from the audience
- 5:15 p.m. – 5:30pm – Pinata time!
- 5:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. – Sing happy birthday and eat cake!
- 5:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. – Say goodbye to those that have to go and thank them. This way no one feels “bad” for leaving.
- 6:00 p.m. and on… I’m still Mexican and of course those that love me and know me know that I would never kick them out and are welcome to stay as long as they want. The end time is not about them it’s about Sofia and being respectful of everyone else’s time.
By having an agenda, you also eliminate the pressure on yourself to keep feeding everyone beyond the time of the party and give people other things to do other than sit around and eat. I’ve been to too many parties where all I do is sit and eat because there’s nothing else to do and there is SO much food left over.
TIP #5 GIVE THEM AN “INCENTIVE” OR REASON TO ARRIVE ON TIME
Again, you have to consider where you are with setting expectations and shifting the culture within the existing culture (which is NOT easy!). I was already stretching myself by “taking away” the “Mexican time” and eliminating the hour that would enable everyone to be late. So when I sent the invite 6 weeks in advance I didn’t tell anyone what the “main attraction” would be. The day before the party, I sent a reminder text that said “See you tomorrow. Try to get here early and no later than 4 p.m. Magic show starts at 4:30 p.m. 🙂 I was surprised that despite the rain the day of the party… not a single person arrived later than 4:30 p.m. Absolutely UN HEARD of for a Mexican party. [Nailed it… =) ]
TIP #6 TAKE A BUNCH OF PICTURES, SHARE AND THANK THEM – KEEP IT PERSONAL
I will be the first to admit – this is the step that I am absolutely horrible at! But I am working on it so I wanted to share with you how I’m leveraging technology, social media and texting to do this. Mr. Sillas is an outstanding photographer so I asked him to take a bunch of pictures and immediately after the party I asked him to put them on google drive.
This way I could send personal messages through text, social media or email throughout the week between meetings, during a break, etc. I really want to emphasize personal because this shows that even though you couldn’t be active in conversation with them the whole time of the party, you want to show them how you much you appreciate their time, engagement in the party, and love they have for your child. And especially thank them for respecting you and what you value. In my case and in our family, we value health, time and quality. Oh last but not least, include a picture! Everyone loves to look at themselves or their kids in pictures so if you can include a picture of them even better!
What it all boils down to is making sure you assess and respect where you are, make a plan that works for you at this current stage of life, put your plan into action – while being open to testing and trying new things with an open mind and lastly being sure to take a long term and strategic approach. Be sure you incorporate what you value most as a family.