10 “Directives” for an Extraordinary and Successful Birthday Dinner Party in an NYC Restaurant, Preferably at Casa La Femme!
We all been there at one year or another. Your milestone birthday is coming up, and you can not resist the peer pressure from your best friends, any more than you can repel a chocolate ice cream offering on your 36 week of pregnancy, or the equally satisfying self-indulgent for men.
You have to have a big bash for yourself with 100 or so of your “closest friends.” However, the monumental task in front of you, shake you to your core. Nevertheless, at the same time, the excitement of finally celebrating You is too overwhelming to ignore any longer.
There is one small problem though. The last time you had planned for a birthday party, you were living with your parents, and you were still in high school in the suburbs of St. Louis.
Have no fear. Everything will be more apparent to you, and without sounding conceited, I will like to proposition you with my two cents of wisdom on the matter. With this ten fundamental rubrics I will shed some light on the dark and mysterious word of planning and executing, a hustle-free and fantastic birthday party in NYC.
1. Venue, Venue, Venue! (Location, Location, Location).
There is a reason that s**t happens. Most likely, is the venue that you choose to celebrate your once in a lifetime, (or you though) event of the decade. There is a direct correlation between the vision that you may have about your expected experience and the restaurant that you choose to make it happen.
You have to approach it the same way you will commence a new romantic relationship, and then some. Be open-minded, without compromising on your vision of what your event will have to feel, and look. The venue, will have to mirror your expectations from the outset, in order for your affair to be on its way to a successful supposition.
2. Budget is key to any event (plan to spend more than you have to and then some).
Small or large, your budget has to reflect your visualization of the event. Let face it. If this is going to work, you have to pay the piper no matter how you slice it.
At any financial and social level that you may be part of, rich or poor and anything in between, you are going to spend more than you used to on a regular night out to dinner, by all means. Now I am not encouraging that you went out and spent your life’s savings on your 40th birthday party, but the reality is that with all the trimming that you may want for your event to be marvelous, you are going to overspend, and so put up and enjoy the ride.
3. Time and date (never on Saturday).
Even though you had no say as to the day of your birth, you do have complete control of the day and time of your celebration. Yes in an ideal world every day should be a Saturday, but keep an open mind as to the benefits that any other day of the week may offer to a successful outcome of merriment.
I will let you in on a secret: 94.4% of all events (and not just birthday party) inquiries to any venue are for a Saturday night. Now there are 52 weeks to a year, and so, that leaves you and the rest of New York with a predicament. Are you going to do what everyone else does (maybe for a good reason) and are you willing to pay through the nose for the venue on prime day and time? Or you are going to be a spoiled Princes for a night and be pampered to death as you spent as much as 50% less of the cost of Saturday night booking and have your party on any other day?
However, let's go beyond the money. Saturday is the busiest night of the week for any restaurant, period. And so, the service is not going to be too attentive; the food is going to take longer (mainly because your big party table is there), the exclusivity will be nonexistent, and the attitude of the rest of guests on the venue may even be nasty. Your choice to consider.
4. Guest list (the more the merrier, but never too many)
I can tell you from 30 years of observing my guest at Casa La Femme, energy is the key to any social gathering and you not going to get that with 4 of your closest friends celebrating your momentous birthday. You may get a stimulating gossipy conversation. However, you can get that any day of the year.
Now, how to get a large enough of a group together to create lots and lot of vibe and energy without you getting lost in the crowd. You want to be the center of attention at least 50% of the time during this pampering spoiling moments.
If you don’t mind, I can give you the exact perfect number of guests to have, for this significant celebratory event in your life without going overboard, and have to plead to strangers to come to your party so you can reach your imaginary number of invitees attending. That number is the number of people you willing to spent more than five minutes to talk to at any given time but no more than 15.
Let's say you invite 20 guests, and you spent ten minutes with each one of them, you just spent 3 hours and 20 minutes right there. I will say, that is just about the amount of time you will have for your event plus some additional moments for blowing out candles and thanking the manager and servers for the delightful experience they provided to you and your guest(right !!!!).
5. The Invite (the sky is the limit).
Back in the nineties, with no social media for help, there were only three ways to invite someone to a party. You will call, you will mail or most importantly you will send a messenger with that spectacular and unique invite with a personal touch. In today's world, nothing can be more precise than that. With 20 invites or less to go out, you can make this request an excellent inspiration for the party to come.
The stimulus is not just for you, but for your guest most importantly. Let some clues to be surface as to what the party may hold for your guest. Send an invitation that can portrait you, the event, and screams fun, originality and playfulness.
6. To Theme or Not to Theme(to paraphrase William Shakespeare that is the question).
Theme parties are appropriate for many occasions, but they can be overwhelming and overbearing for a birthday party. The trick is to get the most of your vision for your event from the atmosphere of the venue you choose and add a personal touch to it.
You can lose yourself in the process of theming a party and forget what you are celebrating, and that is you. The number one rule that exists in my mind if you are going to theme you’re a birthday event is that you focus on you and not the number. Celebrate your life of the past the present and the time to come.
7. Flowers and table candles (the is a good reason that both are considered the foundation of any event décor)
If you do nothing else for your décor of you your event, please do spend the money and time to get flower arrangement for your tables. Do not have the restaurant take care of this. You will save your self-frustration and the trouble of running around the last minute trying to correct their sloppy work and the fact that they entirely miss the point of what you were looking for in design and mood.
Let this two elements create the temperament of the evening, and the rest will fall in to place. If you have the money for a floral designer, you will not regret it spending it. Be adventures with your choices and realize that you can never go wrong with floral and candles.
8. The Seating chart (ask any successful party planner and they will tell you why they will always have a sitting arrangement for their parties no matter what they are celebrating)
The is no better way to say that you are in control of the destiny of your festivity, than the name tags on each place setting on the table. You have spent days upon days of planing this and now is not the time to let others decide the success or failure of the night. Yes, that how important the sitting chart is. It will take time, and you will change it numerous times, but in the end, you will be so much happier with your choice.
9. The Cocktail Hour (the bread and butter for any event)
First, have a welcoming drink as your guest enter the venue. Setting the atmosphere of the night will be essential. Bubbles will always be the best, safest and most elegant choice. I will highly recommend that you incorporate Hors-d'oeuvres with that cocktail hour. Here is where “the more, the merrier” of choices is not what you are after. Choose one to most three, pass around or stationery Hors-d'oeuvres (one excellent item is the best option instead of compromising three) and have them available for ½ the time of the cocktail hour.
Remember this is not the primary course of the night no matter how spectacular it may be. Just tease your guest and hope that the rest of the food will be as phenomenal as the Hors-d'oeuvres which brings me to why you choose to be on a restaurant, to begin with.
More courses, fewer choices per course is my advice on any dinner event. Think of it this way. A two-course dinner can be achieved in 45 minutes even for a party of 40. However, you do want to take your time and enjoy your evening with a well-paced meal that is scrumptious and ascetically pleasing. That can be achieved better if the kitchen is preparing the same dish for each guest at your party.
Start with something that will be on the table the moment you seat and can be share. Continue with a hot appetizer followed by a salad. Your choices of the main course can be no more than three, and it is the only time that your guest gets to choose. For dessert, of course, you will have a cake but keep it small and undoubtedly supplemented it with the establishment’s best choices of sweets (I have not had a birthday cake that I like yet).
And so take the plunge and go at it. Make this birthday the one you will remember for years to come and if that does not come to fruition; tomorrow is another day.