Want to vacation someplace exotic this year? Does the budget say “It’s not gonna happen?” Why not plan a staycation instead? Did I just hear a collective groan? Maybe the thought of visiting the “Political Button Museum” makes you want to cry (This museum, by the way, is located in Rogers, Arkansas). Trust me, friends…. Mark Addison, designer and entertaining expert, offers great ideas to take your staycation from dreary to dazzling!
Who is Mark Addison?
Mark Addison is the creative voice behind EVENTSTYLE, an event design firm he started for celebrity event planning, major product launches and non-profit galas. Mark’s creativity has been featured on the “Today” show, “Better TV,” FOX News, “The Apprentice,” “Access Hollywood” and “America’s Next Top Model.” His work is showcased in InStyle, People, New York and Us Weekly. One thing that sets Mark apart from other celebrity designers, and why he is featured here today, is he understands the value of budget.
Mark, why should people host staycation parties?
People can’t easily afford to travel to great holiday destinations, and staycation parties create that same sense of being on a journey where they always wanted to go. Others may want to recreate a visit to someplace they’ve already been and share it in a fun, engaging way. I’m a huge fan of theme parties and love the idea of being able to take people where you want to take them.
Where does staycation party planning begin?
To get around the cliche — do some research. Make an inspiration board/party board based on a specific staycation party destination. A great theme in the winter time would be a great tropical or exotic destination. Or a snowbird might enjoy a staycation to Miami or California. Picking a specific location gives you more information on what you can do for your party. You can select flavors, flairs and color palette to convey your theme.
How do you set the budget for a staycation party?
As with everything, it’s important to set your overall staycation party budget first. How much do you really want to spend? Then, do research to determine the experience you want to create and decide how to allocate the money available. The budget and plan help you think through the details. Keep track of spending as you go along to make sure you stay within your plan.
Once the budget is set, you can make choices on how to use it. If you are a wine lover, keep the food simple. Foodies can focus on the food and keep the drinks simple. You want to spend the most on food and drink. But there’s a balance based on number of people coming and personal preferences.
What should those with a tight budget focus on to create that destination feel?
A tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t throw a great staycation party. Focus on the biggest impact: music. California beach music has a different flair than Miami. The islands each have their own tone. Create a theme specific playlist from music you already have to set the tone.
To decorate on a budget, take your inspiration from travel magazines. Grab the ideas about the look, tastes, sound and feel of an area. Develop a plan and utilize things you already have at home to repurpose them. If you’re planning a Caribbean party, use beach towels to create vignettes people will notice. Sarongs can be used as table covers. Use vases as serving pieces.
Create a great door decor to set the tone from the moment guests arrive. When they sense the party theme like that, it enhances the party mood.
You don’t need expensive invitations either. Use images from travel magazines to create custom invitations. Make it a fun family project and make invitations with the kids.
What should I serve at a staycation party?
This is your party too, so keep food and drinks simple so that you can enjoy it.
When planning the menu, use recipes from the area and hone in on one. Ceviche, a dish of fish, shrimp, lime juice and fruit, is a great dish for tropical parties because it looks impressive but is easy to make. Serve it with store bought tortilla chips and impress your guests.
Whatever you put on your staycation party menu, use premade items for easy prep and dress them up. If you buy store-bought salsa, dress it up by stirring in bites of fresh pineapple. Use the pineapple top to decorate the serving plate to enhance your theme.
Keep the drink menu simple too. “I like to use parrot bay frozen punches which come in three flavors: Strawberry Daiquiri, Mango Daiquiri and Piña Colada. These delicious frozen drinks are simple to serve because they’re pre made, just freeze and squeeze.” Serve them with fruit garnishes to glam them up a little bit. You can create a “make your own garnish bar” to let guests decorate their own drinks. Include umbrellas, pineapple, cherries, strawberries or whatever fruit is available in your area. A garnish bar looks beautiful and enhances your decorations.
A refreshing, low-cal, non-alcoholic punch recipe can create the same, easy party atmosphere. Simply mix cranberry juice, dry ginger ale (the less sweet kind), fresh lime juice or frozen limeade. Garnish it with fresh limes and a maraschino cherry. You can serve it individually, but when you serve it as a punch, guests can help themselves so you can party more. Have fun with the ice: Fill a bundt pan or large bowl with fruits like orange, pineapple, and cherries. Cover the fruit with water and freeze. The ice block adds decorative flair to your party and keeps the punch cold.
If I asked you to create a stay-cation party based on Venice, what would you do?
Keep it simple. Venice is a water city, but most people don’t have access to a gondola. Instead, consider throwing a Venice themed ball/masquerade ball. I’d make sure the invitations include how to dress — that this is a masquerade ball. Dressing for the theme helps guests get into the party mood. Focus on music, which is inexpensive and creates a great atmosphere. Also consider lighting and colors of the area where you are going. For Venice, I’d throw a party like this in the evening and set the mood with lanterns. I’d also look for inexpensive store bought fabrics to make the space feel luxurious. Since Venice is a coastal town in Italy, I’d focus the menu on seafood and pasta that can be prepared in advance.
Is there anything else the staycation party host should keep in mind?
Be sure to set the tone in advance. Make sure guests know what to expect and arrive appropriately dressed for the theme to fully enhance the experience. If you’re throwing a beach themed party, recommend guests to wear flip-flops and beach attire. When they dress for the party, it enhances the mood of the party and takes some of the pressure off you to create the ambiance, which helps your budget too.
Have you thrown a fabulous, theme destination party? Do you need some staycation party planning ideas? Join the conversation on Facebook! Let’s plan, budget and experience together!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this interview with Mark Addison. When he contacted me about doing this interview, I recognized an opportunity to help my budget-minded readers improve their staycation experience. Use the information here to plan your staycation party, and build a long weekend around the whole theme! Staycations don’t have to be the same old humdrum museum visits of old. Happy vacation, even at home!
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