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Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

Planning a Party?
By Jane Farwell, 1956

Jane Farwell



Suppose you have a committee around and you do not want to have one of those trite parties such as Valentine, Easter, St. Patrick's, etc. Ask people to suggest the first party theme that pops into their heads. The chairman writes these down as they come. At the end, you will have a list of several names such as "The Thing," "April Showers," "Sugar and Spice," "Under the Sea," "At the Zoo," etc. Then all vote on the one theme that seems to have the most possibilities, keeping in mind the age limit and experience of the group the party being planned for, and the refreshments, decoration angles, etc.


Remember that people will always come to something if their curiosity has been sharpened ahead of time. If you send out an invitation, add spice with colored ink and drawings or photographs. You could send out invitations in a series of jig-saw cutouts; when you put them together, you'd have an announcement in full. If your party was to be a "Sack Social," the announcement could be put in paper sacks. Or little stunts and skits could be presented at gatherings in advance to spike interest in the event – the idea is to make folks eager to come.


It's one thing to build up curiosity and another to live up to it, which is just what the second committee does. More fun than preparing decorations in advance is getting those coming to the party to make them as they arrive. Have a table lined up near the entrance loaded with proper materials such as cellophane tape, pins, needles, scissors, staplers, crepe paper, etc. For example, if you were having an "Under the Sea" party, those coming could make fishnets from crepe paper, tear or cut out all forms of marine life – fish, lobsters, squids, seahorses, mermaids, etc., and put them in the nets.

A good trick is to have rope string across the hall, and on this all kinds of things could be hung, such as snowflakes for a wintry party, baskets for a spring party, or even mobiles made from scrap materials. All these things can be taped to the wall using masking tape. A roll of plain butcher paper or shelving paper masking taped to the walls is a good idea with those coming to the party either drawing or painting or pasting on cutouts – an inexpensive and quick way to make decorations.


Avoid the ordinary, "Let's line up for refreshments." The most economical of refreshments can be enjoyed more than fancy eating stuff if it is cleverly presented. These can be simple, such as serving the apples and cookies or doughnuts in a paper sack, to each four people who will be given a gunny sack to sit on to munch their refreshments, to something as elaborate as the idea one group had of stopping a couple dance in the middle, and then rolling out a canoe loaded down with punch and cookies between the rows of dancers as they helped themselves.


Instead of a special clean-up committee, each committee takes care of its own cleaning problems.


  1. Was the party good fun for everyone attending?
  2. Did most of the people participate in activities or just a few while others sat?
  3. Did all the committees seem to be well coordinated?
  4. Did each committee take care of its own clean-up?
  5. Was there sufficient build-up of interest ahead?
  6. Was there a comfortable continuity of theme?
  7. Did the program flow smoothly or were there uncertain pauses of nobody knowing what was next?
  8. Was there something easy for everyone to do when he came in?
  9. Was it something that was not embarrassing or put you "on the spot?"
  10. Did these preliminary activities set the stage sufficiently for the mood of the evening?
  11. Were the refreshments a pleasant surprise that dovetailed into the part smoothly?
  12. Was the group served quickly and easily?
  13. Were the seats arranged around the edge of the hall, or did you plut them into conversational groups for refreshments, etc.?
  14. Was there a good balance of program for the kind of people attending?
  15. Was there a good balance of leadership?
  16. Did the leaders give directions clearly, easily?
  17. Did the leaders participate in the activities while leading?
  18. Did the leaders have control of the group?
  19. Did the leaders' attitudes create a spirit of enthusiasm?
  20. Was everything in good taste?
  21. Did everyone leave the party with good spirit and enthusiasm?
  22. Was your last program activity one that unified the group?

Printed in Rocky Mountain Folk Dance Crier,Vol. 1, Issue 3, 1956 (Holiday).