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Grazing table enthusiast and founder of Stories to Gather, Lia Townsend shares her top tips for a successful event.

| By Rachael Thompson | Entertainment

How to Plan a Stress-Free and Fun Birthday Party

Grazing table enthusiast and founder of Stories to Gather, Lia Townsend shares her top tips for a successful event.

Planning and hosting a party can be a stressful affair. It's only natural to want everyone to have a fun time and for things to run smoothly. But just because you are the host, doesn't mean you need to stressed, you should also be enjoying yourself.

We turned to grazing table enthusiast and founder of Stories to Gather, Lia Townsend to share some game-changing tips that even a novice host can easily put into practice to ensure the birthday party feels stress-free and entertaining for all involved.

"Friends often ask me to help them plan their parties. I love getting involved, as everyone has different ideas on how to start and where to go with each idea. I end up learning a lot about my friends, and myself in fact, after planning each one. But some key tips or learnings I've gained over the years are universal."

According to Lia, the three key aspects of organising a party are: styling, menu, and entertainment (like a playlist or even a parlour game). Below, she shares her top tips for hosting a stress-free and successful birthday party.

1. Pick a theme

The first thing Lia does when planning a party is pick what the vibe of the event will be. "Try to settle on a theme or colour scheme before anything else. If you have this as a foundation, most of your answers can be driven by your theme."

2. Pick a matching menu

Lia is an expert in putting together a fabulous spread that not only tastes great but works well for parties. Grazing tables are a great option as they allow for people to eat when they want and never go hungry. "Plan the menu taking into account the theme, the style of food most enjoyed by your guests (including dietary preferences), and your time on the day of the event. As a host, you want to be able to enjoy time with your guests so consider the flow of the event if you are planning menu items that require last-minute cooking."

3. Less is more

With that being said, you should identify how many people you've invited and cater to that number. You want to prepare good-quality food that will actually get eaten rather than making a lot of underwhelming food that will just be leftover. "Go for quality over quantity. People are going to remember how good something is over how much of it was on a plate."

4. Be prepared

Getting as much done the day before as you can will take away a lot of the stress on the actual day. "Preparation is key, try to get as much done in advance as you can. I often will make the cake the day before and set the table the evening before the party. Try to have everything set up and ready 30 minutes prior to the event start time. This 30 minutes is a good buffer in case guests arrive early or if you are running late." Lia also recommends factoring time for you to get yourself ready. "You will be running around getting everything ready for the event and will need a moment to change and refresh."

5. Delegate tasks

Just because you're the host doesn't mean you need to do all of the heavy lifting! "Depending on the scale of your party, friends and family are often happy to help. And don’t be afraid to outsource. If baking a cake isn’t your interest then outsource it so you can focus on other aspects of the party that are."

6. Enjoy yourself

And finally, enjoy the experience. "If you are finding joy in the planning, tasting, selecting, cooking and styling, that joy sings into every guest at the event."

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