It’s that time of year again, when the sun begins to shine, the birds begin to chirp and people begin to party. This time of year is truly a time to celebrate with friends and family, and there is no better way than getting together for a celebration—whether it’s a graduation, a birthday or a holiday. To help you deal with the idiosyncrasies of party-planning, we talked to some local aficionados to get some tips and insight, as well as to put together a local resource guide you can turn to in order to get whatever you need is.
“If your focusing on the guest of honor, your theme should basically be all about them,” says Patty Sachs, an author, blogger and online party planner based in Plymouth for the past 25 years. Sachs has helped with numerous graduations, and she suggests a theme that relates to the grad. Whether a hobby, interest, college choice or career intention, building the theme of the party should be centered around a defining characteristic or interest of the one being celebrated.
Sachs recalls one recent graduation party she attended that focused on one of the favorite times of the year for the graduate, the State Fair. “She had corndogs, a popcorn machine, mini-doughnuts, some small games, and everything was really casual. She just had a ball,” Sachs says. The theme can be anything, just let yourself get creative.
If you’ve got kids, it’s likely you have or will one day plan a grad party. But where to begin? Consider these tips to a seamless day, courtesy of Plymouth’s party planner extraordinaire, Patty Sachs:
- Determine what the graduate is comfortable with. Small or large party, who to invite and how to decorate should all be talked about with the them; after all, it is their party.
- When attempting a themed party, consider the food options, colors, decorations and activities. The more you can get to associate with the theme, the more unique the party will be.
- Graduation parties are generally open houses; choose the food accordingly. Small snacks and appetizers will generally suit the atmosphere perfectly as opposed to large bulky meals.
Fathers and Mothers Day Celebrations
These days tend to be less extravagant and more rooted in tradition than other festivities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. Try adding something extra onto the usual. A “queen” or “king for the day” theme works well, treating Mom or Dad like royalty. A favorite hobby or interest of the honoree is always good to incorporate into the celebration, whether it be with decorations or activities (or both). And when they’re of age, be sure to get the kids involved.
To bring out a bit more sentimentality, Sachs suggests activities that capture the life of the father or mother. Show old home movies, pry out some stories or tell some of your own. It will bring together what the day is really about—family.
Kids Birthday Parties
You can bring the kids out to a restaurant or a roller-skating rink, but the cost and hassle might just leave you with a headache. To save some money and bring a more personable side to kids’ parties, try having a “make your own” party. This can be a make-your-own-cake, make-your-own-pizza or make-your-own-whatever-your-heart-desires-and-the-kids-can-make party.
“It will be more personable for the kid, and they will really interact,” Sachs says. Whatever you choose to do for your child’s party, if it is interactive it will most likely be more memorable and a whole lot more fun.
Countdown to Party Day
4–6 weeks out for graduation parties, 2 weeks out for birthday parties
“The party starts with the invitation,” states party-planner Patty Sachs matter-of-factly. Ensure that invitations are clear and concise. Directions, time, an idea of food and what to expect should all be noted on the invitation. If it’s a small get-together, make sure to indicate this on the invitation so no one is expecting something loud and crowded. Remember to include an RSVP date so you can plan your menu and supplies accordingly. Tip: If gifts will be given at the party, it’s a good idea to purchase thank-you notes now, too, so they match the paper theme or style.
Anchor Paper Do-it-yourself invitation supplies, stamping equipment, bulk paper and more. Ask about the card-making classes, held regularly, before you venture out on your own. Every third Thursday, Anchor Paper holds a “card club,” where attendees make two copies of each of the evening’s four featured card designs. You’ll even receive 10 percent off scrapbooking purchases that night as well. Check it out on the 21st from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
12855 Hwy. 55
Pen & Ink Simulated calligraphy and handmade invitations.
4116 N. Hemlock Ln.
UNIQLOVE This invitation company is run by local designer Amy Mills. With plenty of experience as an art director and in designing unique invitations, she will be able to create an individual theme for all your needs.
2–4 weeks out
A party isn’t a party without the supplies. On a budget? Consider what Sachs calls Party Pooling: “Basically what this means is finding out what equipment other people have, and share it for these special occasions,” she says. “It can be equipment, decorations or tableware. Ask friends or neighbors to come over during the day of the party and help out, and in return offer to help them during the day of their party.” This idea comes in especially handy during graduation party season.
For those specialty items for a one-time-use, there are plenty of party supply rental shops in the area. “For the average party planner, it is looking at your budget, then going to your vendor and saying, ‘This is what I want to do and the feel I want to have, but this is the budget I have. Tell me how best to do that.’ It really is taking the advice of the experts,” says Matt Johnson, co-owner with his wife Jennifer Braun of Festivities, a party planning and supply resource in Medina. The local vendors can tell you what they can do (and more importantly what they can’t) for a certain sum of money. Remember: It never hurts to ask.
Bachman’s Don’t limit yourself to the florals, though the specialists at Bachman’s can create any themed bouquet or décor, in any color or style. Think table trinkets and quirky gifts, too.
10050 Sixth Ave. N.
Buttercup Fields (florist) Located in a residential studio, owner Jill Hules’s designs feature a European flair.
4320 Evergreen Ln. N.
Dundee Floral Your hometown flower shop offers a personalized expression, whatever your event.
16800 Hwy. 55
Festivities From decorations to floral displays, you can get what you need for a party here, and if you can’t, they will point you in the right direction.
3969 County Rd. 116, Medina
Party City Balloons, crepe paper, banners and more—find all the things you need for a typical party, and some you didn’t even know you did.
4130 Berkshire Ln.
Pump It Up This store hosts its own indoor parties, and guests always enjoy bouncing around in the inflatables.
3500 Holly Ln. N. Ste. 65
USA Inflatables and Moonwalks Party Rental The name speaks for itself. While a go-to for kids’ parties, don’t exclude them for graduations, too.
6 weeks, and 1–2 weeks
Whether it is small sandwiches, delicious chocolates or a little liquid cheer, Plymouth has a multitude of options to ensure your guests don’t go hungry. Most catering services are amenable to any schedule, provided you book them in advance. Spring is a time of many celebrations, so consider having a party at a different time than usual.
“I’ve seen graduation parties going later in the summer, occurring on Sundays and happening at night,” notes Tony Berg, general manager and event planner for Town and Country Catering. Touch base first before or as your invitations are going out, then check-in again with your final head-count a week or two before the big day.
Cold Stone Creamery Dessert-central: Consider the ice cream cupcakes.
3505 Vicksburg Ln. Ste. 700
Edible Arrangements What could be easier than your entire appetizer or dessert tray taken care of in a creative little bouquet-o-fruit?
1400 County Rd. 101 N. Unit K
Famous Dave’s One of the most-affordable large-group caterers, you’ll be surprised by the selection—from brisket to spicy mac-and-cheese to hot fudge Kahlua brownies.
11308 Hwy. 55
Catering: Call Howard Polski at 952.593.5050
Gateaux Inc. Cakes galore, plus more! Come here for your invitation and paper design needs, too. (Owner Robin Martin calls her this portion of her creative services Beau Papier.)
15705 35th Ave. N.
Lunds Great for any dinner party, but really perfect for an upscale, intimate affair. Our tip: Know that you can get a free cake for your baby’s first birthday if you bring in his or her birth certificate at time of purchase, but be sure to order at least one day in advance.
3455 Vicksburg Ln.
Rainbow Foods The best place for sheet cake.
- 16705 County Rd. 24
- 4190 Vinewood Ln.
- 10200 Sixth Ave. N.
Painted Turtle Chocolatier & Artisan Shoppes Truffles, chocolate-dipped delicacies and small cakes.
10100 6th Ave. N, Suite 106
Panera Bread Perfect for those brunch-centric parties like Mother’s and Father’s days.
16875 County Rd. 24
Truffles & Tortes Indulgent, sweet, decadent desserts of all sorts.
72 Nathan Ln.
Town & Country Caterers Whether you’re having a small sit-down affair in a cozy locale, a large buffet dinner in a grand ballroom or anything in between, Town & Country Caterers, in operation since 1948, has what you’re looking for. “All of our food has always been made from scratch, using the freshest and highest-quality ingredients,” general manager Tony Berg says.
3155 Empire Ln.
Vinifera Wines and Ales Co-owner Christian Nesheim can offer up any number of picks and pairings for a festive affair; be sure to ask for his wine pick of the month.
1400 County Rd. 101 N.
Vino 100 100 varieties of vino conveniently organized from red to white, dry to fruity? Yes, please.
3225A Vicksburg Ln.
We Cater To You Completely customizable for any size group, choose from many menus, including hors d’oeuvres, brunch and picnics. Other vendors are available, too (think tents and linens).
10000 Hwy. 55
Entertainment can be a difficult topic to tackle, especially when it comes to kids’ parties. Too many distractions can take away from the sociable aspect of the party and not enough can be blasé. Consider age-specific entertainment, something to keep the small kids entertained while the adults chat. There must always be some sort of music at a party, but as Sachs warns, “If you see people leaning in to talk to each other, than it is too loud.” Entertainment is there to enhance the party, not become the party.
If you’re considering a more activity-focused approach to entertainment, keep in mind that one activity for a long time is not a good idea. Do a few small activities, which will keep people, especially small kids, interested.
Mark Bloom and Marquis Music “There is a lot of synergy to the event when there are live musicians,” says Bloom, who has played in a host of local country clubs, churches, synagogues and outdoor venues.
4605 Narcissus Ln. N.
Golden Touch DJ Ask about the karaoke options and the new photo montages.
Event Photobooths Rob Boisvert offers a basic photo booth package that includes delivery, set-up, unlimited photos for three hours, CD of your photos and more, all for $500.
4116 N. Hemlock Ln.
Magician Matt Dunn Not only is he a master of working the crowd, Matt Dunn’s 35-minute shows are tailored to the audience. Want a roving magician instead of a sit down show, perhaps for an open house? Dunn can do that, too. $200–$350 for in-home parties; $650–$1,500 for larger events.