Six Things I Learned Hosting My 50th College Reunion Kickoff Party

Planning a party is a great motivator to make improvements that you have been putting off.  We were expecting about 50 people on June 8, so in late May we asked our gardener to spread a coat of fresh mulch over all of our flower beds, and to power wash our driveway, upper deck, and lower deck, which were covered with a thick coat of algae.  He announced that our gutters badly needed cleaning, so he offered to do that as well.  He was at our house for four days, and as you can see from the photo above, our garden looked beautiful.  We also had our painter at the house for three days, painting interior trim that desperately needed painting.  I doubt if anyone noticed it, because they were all so engrossed in talking to each other!  They probably didn’t notice the cleaned gutters, either.

If the party is in June, prepare for rain (also known as the “Rose Festival Effect”).  We have a covered area below our upper deck with a round table that will comfortably seat eight.  Since we were expecting such a large crowd, the college agreed to loan us a tent, along with a large round table and 10 chairs.  We now had covered seating for 18 on our lower deck.  I’m sure the reason that it didn’t rain on our party was because we were so well prepared.

Hire the best caterer you can afford, even if you love to cook.  That way you can enjoy the party.  This was an “appetizers and drinks” event, not a dinner.  The college charged a $15 fee to each person who signed up.  The caterer did an amazing job!  I stole her from my next door neighbor.

The PARTY RENTAL place is your friend.  If you have an event for more than a dozen people, do you really want to be washing all those glasses and dishes?  We ended up having 70 guests, so I rented plates, wineglasses, and tablecloths.  We didn’t need silverware, as the appetizers were all finger food.  I opted for paper napkins because it wasn’t a sit-down dinner.  The rental company delivers the day before and picks up the day after the party.

Hire enough help.  The caterer was glad I had hired a person to help serve, pick up plates and glassware, and be an extra pair of hands.  When she heard how many guests were expected, she suggested I hire one more, so I did.

Wherever you put the bar is the place people will congregate.  Originally the caterer thought we should have the food in the dining room, and the bar on the lower terrace, so that people would circulate.  What happened is that people went down to the bar area, and never went back upstairs to get food, so we moved the food to the lower terrace.

This is by far the largest party we have ever hosted, and I learned a lot.  Having lovely surroundings and wonderful food and drink is a bonus, but my sense is that people who haven’t seen each other in a long time just want to be together, no matter what the venue. 

Au revoir!  Good night!  Hope to see you soon!

Photo credits:  Nina Johnson, Reed ’99

There are 3 Comments to "Six Things I Learned Hosting My 50th College Reunion Kickoff Party"

  • Jerri-Jo Idarius says:

    Looks like great fun. I can’t think of a better place than you and your lovely home to host such an event. I got into town too late or I would have been there.

  • Donna Pizzi says:

    Kathia, what a great sketch of a great way to prepare for a large party. Caterers are a must, but your garden was also deliciously in bloom. Brava for having the woodwork painted! Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labors, and clean gutters too. It’s been hellishly hot these past 2 days, but today we can all relax from watering. Congrats on a great party atmosphere (photos included), and beautiful surroundings. Bravissima.

  • Holly Stickley says:

    Hi Kathia! Your 50th reunion party! How awesome! Looks like everyone was having a great time.

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