As promised last week, this post will be focused on the “how to” of all the little touches we’re bringing into this party. I’ll cover how to plan and execute them, along with some resources and templates. To make it easy to follow along with this series, I’ve keep the same breakdown of party “areas” and within each, I’ll detail the specifics of the elements we’re incorporating.
Area 1: The Gangway
- SeaPass card – I tried to mock up this template to look as similar as possible to the Royal Caribbean SeaPass card (our cruise line of choice). To do that, I searched Google for an image of it and then built within PowerPoint. You can start with a basic rectangle or rounded rectangle shape, size it to the appropriate dimensions and then use text boxes / tables within it to include the various components on the image. To make it feel like a card, I’m going to run it through my laminator. If you don’t have one (I LOVE mine…and they aren’t all that expensive), you can get these Scotch Self Seal Laminating pouches. They are a perfect side for this type of card.
- Our uniforms – the great part about doing uniforms is – they don’t have to be perfectly like what you’d find on a ship to make sense for attendees. I’ve done “uniforms” for other events before (see my Globe Trotter Bridal Shower for another example) and learned that the most important part is everyone wearing as close to the same thing as possible. This will create the uniform feel (because really, how likely is it that 4-8 people at your party all show up in the same color of pants and shirts of their own volition?). We decided on black pants with black shirts. Our nametags are going to be white, so we wanted them to pop against our uniform. For the nametags, I bought a pack of Avery safety pin nametags that you can print out or write on. These are my favorite because they’re reusable (and are also great with the Murder Mystery in a box kits, like my How to Host a Murder Parties on the 1960s, 1880s, and 1920s.) Here is the nametag template I’m using for our party.
Area 2: Their Stateroom
- Towel animal – there are SO many towel folding videos available on YouTube. We haven’t decided what animal we’re going to do yet (likely, we will try a few and whichever looks the least pathetic is what we’ll go with…), but there are lots of choices and there’s bound to be at least one you can successfully achieve!
- Cruise Compass – Just like with the SeaPass card, I looked at dozens of Royal Caribbean Cruise Compasses via a Google search (it’s crazy how many people post pics of them!). Then I thought about what elements would work for my event and came up with other ideas to fill the space where items on the REAL Cruise Compass didn’t make sense for the party. You can see my template here.
- Engraved flutes – these are the flutes we’ve ordered for them. While it will make the evening even more special, they are also a nice, lasting gift for them to enjoy AND to help them remember the celebration.
Area 3: The Pre-dinner Photo
- Photo location – we still haven’t landed on a spot, but when choosing a location for a photo, be sure to consider a few things:
- Lighting – as someone who has had some really bad experiences with wack lighting (my wedding photos weren’t amazing, sadly), I’ve learned that this is incredibly important. Too bright and your subjects look washed out. Too dark and you can’t see them and feel like you need to squint. The good news is that if you’re using a standard cell phone camera (which is really quite good these days), you should be okay with light and exposure, so long as you choose a well lit place where the light allows the front of the subjects to be viewable. So, pick a place and think about the available lighting in it, as well as any natural light, time of day, sunset, etc. And, if you don’t have a great spot with good lighting, MAKE ONE! Grab an extra lamp or some flashlights and set them up to help light the area. Take some test photos before the event at the appropriate time of day to make sure the photos will come out well.
- Background – you want a neutral / non-distracting background for your photo. This will help the subjects standout and will ensure you don’t go “wow, I really wish you couldn’t see my kids’ toy clutter in the background of that photo on Mom’s mantle for the last 10 years…” If you don’t have a good spot for this, you can always buy a background and create the look your going for.
Area 4: The Main Dining Room
- Table setting – there’s just something about a formal table setting that makes food taste better. Whenever I want to elevate an evening at home with my hubs, I’ll whip out our fancier placemats, grab a couple of cloth napkins and set the table. It’s really not hard and makes a statement. So, for this party, we’re going full out. We’ll use white tablecloths, cloth napkins and a full setting of cutlery and glasses. (Side note: you know how when you buy silverware sets, it comes with big spoons, little spoons, big forks, little ones, etc.? Well, this is the PERFECT time to put those all to good use!) A traditional table setting has a small fork out the outer left, followed by a large fork. If you’re setting out plates, this would come next (usually a dinner plate with a salad plate / soup bowl on top, depending what you’re using). On the other side of the plate, you should have a dinner knife (typically just a “butter knife”, but could also be a steak knife depending on the meal) followed by a soup spoon (the larger spoon in your silverware set). At the top of the plate, horizontally, should sit a dessert spoon (the smaller spoon). In the top right corner, you should have both a water glass and wine glass(es). In the top left corner, you should have the bread plate with a smaller butter knife (if you have them…if not, don’t worry. People can just use their dinner knife for this.). There are lots of images of traditional table settings on Google if you need a visual or want to see other options. We’ll also be attempting a fancy napkin fold, of which there are many YouTube videos. Wish us luck!
- Menu – while it might seem totally OTT to create and print a menu, we really wanted the experience to feel as authentic as possible (plus we have choices, so didn’t want to have to be rattling them off verbally). As with all the templates, I’ve created, I started with a Google search for a Royal Caribbean dinner menu and then built from there. For this template, I used a table in MS Word to keep the spacing and alignment. When I print this, I’ll have it printed on heavier cardstock so it feels more formal.
Area 5: The King’s Lounge
- Love & Marriage Questions – Google, google, google. (or Bing or whatever…) It is so easy to find questions from previous Love & Marriage game shows on Royal cruises. There are also lots of questions out there for bachelorette parties or wedding showers, or for “The Newlywed Game” that can work perfectly for this. I was going to make individual cards for each question, BUT, I decided I wanted to be able to record the answers of each participant, so I just created a master template with all of the questions and the couple names where I could record their answers AND keep score all in one place. In case you aren’t familiar with how this game works, it goes like this: you have a few couples, ideally 3-4. To start the game, one partner from each couple has to exit the room and go somewhere that they can’t hear what’s being said. Then, the host asks questions of the remaining partners, they give their answers and then the other halves of each couple return and are asked the same questions. For each answer where both partners give the same answer, the couple earns 1 point. It’s absolutely hilarious, as long as you’re asking the right questions 🙂 As mentioned in my last post, I’ve removed the questions from the template because I don’t want any of the party guests to see them in advance and cheat!
Area 6: Dancing on the Pool Deck
- The Playlist – as with any good dance party, this is the most critical element. There are so many ways you can do this. My personal favorite, especially when I’m co-hosting, is to create a playlist on Spotify and share it with my other co-hosts so we can all add music to it leading up to the event. Then, the burden isn’t all on one person and you’ll end up with a much larger playlist. It’s amazing how many songs you can go through at a good dance party. And, Spotify is cool because it lets you see how long of a playlist you have (like, 2 hours, 20 mins) so you can gauge if you need to add more or not. And remember, you want upbeat, danceable songs!!
Now that you’ve gotten a deeper dive into the “how to” of each of the elements, the next step is to go about executing each element. Especially when you’re hosting with others, it’s important to get organized together and determine assignments for each person. That’s what we’ll go through next week. Make sure you have your original project plan handy for that!