By Leslie-Ann Sheppard
Photography by Paulette Phlipot
We’ve all attended great parties that live on in our memories. But there are also those where we’ve Houdini-ed out the back door. So what makes a party memorable, and how can you pull it off?
While it can be complicated navigating the party-hosting options, it needn’t stress you out. With some simple tools and guidelines, you’ll be on top of the social scene in no time.
Children often count the months, weeks, and days until their next birthday—sometimes sending you in a tailspin over the “perfect party” details. But take a breath and focus on the essentials. It doesn’t take much for kids to have a good time.
Why not host a home party? Young children feel comfortable in their own digs and are proud to show off their world to peers. Choose a theme that’s centered on your child’s interests. Websites like spoonful.com, realsimple.com, and PBS.org offer creative party solutions from cute DIY crafts, to decorations and recipes. Get ideas, and then source the goods locally.
Kids thrive on structure, so planned activities are the way to go. Projects also assure uncorralled kids won’t run rampant through your house. Plan a simple craft like scratch-art, where children make art by scratching designs into black crayon-covered pages. Several companies manufacture scratch-art items, including the ubiquitous Melissa and Doug. Another low-cost, low-mess activity is making mosaics. Choose a sticker mosaic kit that complements the party theme. Piñatas are also a big hit, and you control the bounty. Fill them with candy, art supplies, costume jewelry, or other little trinkets. And as a mindful alternative to traditional gift giving, hosts can request that guests bring a previously loved item for a party-wide exchange. This way, the birthday child isn’t the only one leaving with something “new.”
If the idea of a dozen energetic youngsters roaming your house doesn’t excite you, consider one of our local venues. The Local Galleria in Driggs is available for parties at a very reasonable rate. Owner and local artist Teri McLaren, once a daycare provider, formulates events for budding young artists. She organizes activities like fashion and clothing design, jewelry making, and, of course, painting and drawing. The Jackson Hole Children’s Museum is a good go-to for Wyoming parents. With plenty of hands-on stations and intriguing installations, there is nary a bored child. Axis Gymnastics in Jackson and TISA (Teton Indoor Sports Academy) in Driggs are great alternatives for active bodies. Visit their websites for details, including pricing and party size limits.
Golden Milestones Party
A special “round number” anniversary or retirement provides yet another great reason to celebrate. Commemorate your, or a loved one’s, golden milestone with an unforgettable party. Choosing a Jackson Hole venue like the Calico, Local, or Sweetwater allows everyone to relax and mingle—even the host. The friendly management teams make the party go off with ease and can work with different budgets. On the Idaho side, treat your guests to the magical ambience of the Linn Canyon Ranch, the Teton Teepee, or the Wildwood Room.
Invitations are a big deal for a golden milestone party—especially if it’s a surprise—as they set the tone for the entire event. Be clear about the occasion (is it a 40th anniversary, a 50th birthday, or a retirement party?). And keep in mind, the more formal the event, the more formal the invitation. While the old-school way of sending a fancy creation by mail still reigns, you can also opt for sending invitations via email. It’s inexpensive, creative, and green.
For a special presentation, ask attendees to bring a photo of the guest(s) of honor, or draft a story illuminating them. Organize the photos ahead of time and arrange them around the party room. Guests can mill about, checking out old photos and reminiscing. Or invite guests to share a toast. With a little pre-planning, photos and stories can be compiled into a slide show, or a photo album can be presented as a gift. Technology makes this fairly simple; generally, a laptop and a projector are all that’s needed, and many venues will accommodate.
Girls' or Boys Night Out
Time and time again, friends intend to gather, but fail to make it happen. Family and work responsibilities vie for attention, and social opportunities often don’t make the cut. So use the arrival of spring a good excuse for a portable party.
For the ladies, nothing beats a spa day! Round up your girlfriends and enjoy catching up while indulging in a massage, facial, mani, or pedi. Stillwaters Spa at Teton Springs in Victor caters to groups. Soak in their outdoor hot tub, inhale the eucalyptus steam bath, and sip wine in their relaxation room. In Teton Village, Hotel Terra’s Chill Spa provides an equally suitable venue with their rooftop, slopeside tub!
If spas aren’t your thing (if that’s even possible), how about a wine-tasting event at Bin22 in Jackson? Or consider a visit to Vom Fass, if you prefer spirits to grapes. You can explore and taste any of their wonderful products, including specialty oil concoctions and other gourmet food items.
For the “bro” spa day, visit The Whiskey Barber in Jackson. Guys can meet at this throwback spot, get their domes trimmed, and grab a nearly extinct straight shave while throwing darts and sipping whiskey. It’s BYOB, so come prepared.
Tastings can also be done man-style at Grand Teton Distillery in Driggs, Grand Teton Brewery in Victor, or Snake River Brewery in Jackson. Afterwards, catch a live show at the Pink Garter Theatre, offering an impressive lineup of national acts.
And since Teton men tend to be active, don’t limit yourself to a nighttime affair. Disc golf at Grand Targhee Resort, or regulation golf for that matter, are good options before the trails dry out. A camping weekend or group float down the Snake or the Teton rivers always assures good camaraderie. Pack a portable barbecue and fly rod, and put away the phone for the day. (Just make sure to answer if your wife calls.) -LS