Every other month I host a Pinterest inspired craft party that doubles as a DIY workshop. The parties are held in a gorgeous Brooklyn loft that’s also a rental boutique event space.
The main demographics for this workshop series are women, between the ages of 25 – 40 based in New York. Its the main demographic but it’s not the only one. We have had men attend the parties. We have had a high schooler attend. Women have joined from New Jersey and Philadelphia. We had a mother-daughter duo attend. We had five girlfriends use the party as their “Girls Night Out.” Their careers range from lawyers, teachers, health care advocates, students, stylists, bloggers and more.
The common denominator between all the women is a desire for creativity and community. Well and me! These are either my friends, my colleagues, my clients and my social media subscribers on twitter, youtube, instagram, facebook and more.
As the workshop parties have grown, I keep getting requests to travel with the party. “Bring it to Chicago. Bring it to Boston. Bring it to L.A.,” my friends tell me on facebook. That is a wonderful idea for some time in the future but right now, I am focusing on New York.
What I would like to do though, is offer a few tips on how you can host your own craft party. Of course it won’t be exactly like my party because I’m different than you, but there are a few things that make my life easier whether my party has 10 women or 40.
Considering my party started with about 15 women sitting on my living room floor and morphed into a legitimate workshop series with sponsors and a gorgeous location, I would like to think I know a thing or two on party planning. I have also been either a stage & event manager since 2001…so, you know, I know some stuff.
First off, I am going to skip the basics. I would like to think my blog is not for the basics. I like to assume my audience googles things and knows things and they already know they need to pick a craft. And sure that can be complicated too. You need to pick a craft that works for the size of the group and the location you’ll be at. You need to pick a craft where the supplies are easy to attain…meaning affordable, shippable, usable….blah blah blah. Okay, so maybe it is more complex that just picking a cute project off pinterest, but that’s not what I want to get into. For those kinds of tips check out How to Throw Your Own Craft Night on etsy or How to Throw A Pinterest Party Myronette. Her blog is gluten free. She seems cool. And check out How to Host a Pinterest Party on Catch My Party.
That would be the first thing to throwing a party. GOOGLE IT! You know how I feel about research! Just google and youtube stuff. That’s how I found the three articles up above. I literally typed in “how to host a craft party” and “tips on throwing a craft party.”
Okay, so my “Advanced Tips.”
1. Make everything cute.
Even if you’re throwing a party for you and a few girlfriends…even if its a dinner party or just brunch, make a cute “marketing” flyer. Don’t just send an email or make a facebook event. Do something a little extra. I decided to make a cute flyer that would be sent out to all my friends. It made it more “official” which was actually one of the steps that secured one of our first sponsors. If you don’t have photoshop, use sites like fotor or picmonkey.
I think a sub tip but a MAIN point in “making everything cute” is to be intentional about marketing and publicity. Even if you are hosting a dinner with four of your girlfriends or you are throwing a superhero birthday party for 20 five year olds, treat it like you’ve been hired to host that event. Make flyers. Curate the right content. Develop a style for the event. People will take notice.
2. Use the right platform to engage your community.
I am still working on this one. I knew for the first party that I did not want facebook to be the main go to place for party information. Along with posting information on my blog and sending an email to my friends, I decided to create a Google+ event. I figured Google+ would already rank us higher in searches. I would also be able to keep referencing the event once it passed. Everyone could interact and it interfaced with gmail. I used Google+ for the first two craft parties and I immediately made a group board on pinterest. Now that the party has gotten bigger, is open to the public, is in a new location and has various ticket prices, I use eventbrite to manage my attendees, tickets and more. I have access to their email addresses to communicate with the group and it interfaces fairly well with other social media platforms. Also use all the options available on EventBrite and download the app. It helps when checking in guest and selling tickets day of. Along with using EventBrite, I now create facebook events on my fan page. Its just something I’m trying out. I’m constantly testing to see which gives the most community engagement.
3. Delegate as much as you can and as much as you can afford
By May of 2013, our parties had grown and moved to a new location. Wanna know what I realized? As beautiful as Shell’s Loft is for our party, it wasn’t my home. With past parties, I used all the dishes in my kitchen. If someone needed a pen, I’d grab one from my office supplies. When one guest spilled something on her clothes, I actually gave her a pair of my pants out of my closet to wear. Everything I needed was right there. I own about 30 coffee mugs, so every one had tea whenever they wanted. Whatever I needed was within reach.
Moving the party to a new location, means that aside from basic supplies that may or may not be at your rented location, you have to BRING everything you need to the new location. This is especially tricky if your expected attendee list is 40 and you’re making candles and lip balm. Do you know how many pounds of wax are needed for 40 people to have a medium size candle and several tea candles? Do you know how much oil is needed? And that’s just for the supplies. What about the food? Do you make the food at your place or at the rental space? (We had no catering budget. Not yet at least.) And don’t forget you need coffee mugs…disposable ones…earth friendly though. And you need forks and plates and grapes and chocolate truffles and your ipad that has the candle recipes and chargers and EVERYTHING.
On top of that, you have all this stuff that needs to get to a loft in Brooklyn and well…I don’t drive. And I did not have a co-host for the party. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! 24 hours before our May craft party, I realized I was in deep.
That’s when I turned to Task Rabbit. I remembered Task Rabbit randomly from an old colleague on Wall Street. He used TaskRabbit and two other sites for any and everything, …basically as his personal assistant. At 4pm on a Friday afternoon, with less than 24 hours to go, I googled something that led me to TaskRabbit because I couldn’t remember the name. Maybe it was “website for running errands.” or something like that. I looked at a few sample posts and then wrote mine.
Here are some tips towards recruiting help.
- Don’t use your friends. Let your friends come to the party and enjoy it. Plus, if you’re particular like me, your friends won’t move as fast as you want them too or maybe they will think you’re being bossy or maybe they oversleep that day and decide they can’t come. I’d must rather pay a professional that I can be the manager off and tell them exactly what to do.
- Give official titles to those helping. Whether you use your friends or hire help, give the various positions “official titles.” I easily secured an “Event Assistant” or “Assistant Event Manager” who was looking to add to her portfolio versus just saying, “I need a taxi or someone to help me cook things.” The words you use are important.
- Also be clear and specific on what you need. Be very clear and specific. I wrote out EXACTLY what I needed and I received that and more and my life was so much easier. I would NOT have been able to do a 40 person candle making and lip balm workshop in a new location with over 100+ giveaway items plus all the food without someone helping me who had a car. Her name was Nature and she was good.
4. Create a master to do list.
Use your journal. Use Asana.com. Use 2Do. Use whatever and keep a master list of everything. You won’t remember and you’ll forget something. Want examples of things I forgot. I forgot to buy cilantro for the guacamole. So….I added basil instead. I forgot to bring the mozeralla for the caprese bite size thingies…so we made a vegan version instead that was tomatos, basil and slice of avocado. It was a surprise hit. I forgot to print out the instructions for my soy candle recipe. (It was very specific.) So…I improvised. Each of those things were not on my checklist…or I skipped reviewing my checklist. This is why I hire assistants so that the checklist is for them.
5. Gather your supplies.
- You have a few options when it comes to supplies. You can either use things that you already own. The first two craft parties were made with 90% of the things I already had in my home.
- You can have attendees each bring their own supplies.
- You can purchase supplies.
- You can find sponsors who will give you the supplies.
I do a combo of options 1 – 3. I really want my attendees to come to the party and simply enjoy themselves, so they are often required to bring only one item, if that. Maybe its the container for their homemade candle. I supply everything else and its a combination of using all the craft supplies I have at home and ordering new stuff. I use a variety of vendors and online shops depending on the craft itself. It would be nice to have a craft store or company send us the 20 scissors we need or pens we need or glue we need but as of now. I pay for 75% of of this out of pocket and about 25% is covered by ticket cost.
Consider how you are going to handle supplies when it comes to you party. Keep in mind, if you don’t have a budget…try picking low cost crafts. It’s fairly cheap to make bulk sugar and salt scrubs. Especially if the party only has 15 people. Buying the items needed for a soy or beewax scented candle with high quality carrier and essential oils for 40 people is more costly. It was worth it though! If you are purchasing supplies online, please pay attention to the estimated delivery date. I had to completely change the crafts for one party because most of our supplies ended up being back ordered at the last minute.
6. Feed the HUNGRY People.
You can NOT have a party without food. How do you handle this, especially if you have low spending budget? Get creative. On average I spend about $150 to $200 on food per party. (Take into account I buy gluten free, organic and natural items. I buy vegan alternatives. I buy chocolate truffles from Wholefoods. I sort of go all out and still manage to feed everyone without growing broke.)
I make homemade guacamole. Its cheap, easy, tasty AND award winning. I purchase the hummus. I buy gluten free chips. I bring tea from my personal stash. I make platters of fruits and vegetables. And I’ve learned that in larger group settings a cheese plate DOES NOT work. For some reason the people at my parties, do not eat the cheese. But they do love the Field Roast Apple Smoke Sage sausage. And they like the cookies. And of course everyone eats ALL the treats from our sponsor Sterling Sweets.
Also the guests bring snacks too. They were really great with bringing wines, juices, chips, cookies, trail mix and more.
7. Give your party a focus.
Whether you’re picking a theme, a color, or an ingredient, create a cohesive focus. This will keep you organized. It will make things easier. And it will help you in curating inspiration on a pinterest board or finding blog posts with crafts that you’ll try. I decided the main ingredient for one party was wax. So we made beeswax and/or soy candles. And since we were using wax, I decided to find some lip butter recipes that included wax. For our next party scheduled in September, we are going with the theme of Fall Fashion & Style. The main focus will be on upcycling t-shirts into much better shirts, headbands, necklaces and more. I’m also planning on our November party being a food & baking workshop. Its November. Its Thanksgiving. People like comfort foods and soups and yummy desserts. Why not make a craft workshop out of it?
8. Location. Location. Location.
I mentioned before that with the growth of the craft party, I had to find a new location. As a photographer & filmmaker, I use a few different websites to find optimum rental spaces for my clients and my personal projects. But finding a space for a photo shoot is different than finding a space for a craft party. I also realized a craft party requires more than just renting a “meeting room” or “conference room.” I heard you can rent conference rooms for free at the public libraries. That might be good for client meetings or a round table discussion but not for a craft party. Then I realized maybe I needed to find a website that brides would use for their bridal showers or where people have their baby showers. Because searching for “rental spaces for craft parties” yielded nothing usable. It would be nice if Co-Working spaces let you rent out their space. Or imagine if you could rent a craft room for the afternoon at Etsy or Brooklyn Brainery?
You don’t even want to know how many hours and searches I did. You just want to know where to search, right? Here’s a freebie…ish… I discovered EventUp.com and that’s how I found Shell’s Brooklyn Loft. I don’t know what search terms I used to find her space but once I saw her images, I emailed her right away, went on a site visit a few days later and so our partnership began! Event Up is great to find venues for parties…but they also are great for finding places for meetings, photo & video shoots and more. Also all of their venues are top quality, of what I’ve seen so far. It’s like the Air BnB of events and meetings.
9. Embrace the SNAFU’s.
One thing to take into account is that party planning and workshop preparations is not as glamorous as it seems. A challenge usually presents itself. For instance, during the last craft party, my best friend was in town and helped me shop for groceries the day before. Let’s count all the mishaps.
- Our grocery cart got stuck twice on the escalator meant for shopping carts. I think we waited a total of 30 minutes between both snafus to get our food.
- We waited about 30 minutes to be brought a case of bottle water from the backroom….that’s a long time in grocery story speak…..maybe he actually went to the fresh mountain springs to collect the water. And when we went to the cash register that case the guy brought us was double the price of the one we asked for.
- Our grocery bags almost spilled on the streets. We ended up in a taxi…tired and exhausted. Imagine two girls carrying about 8 bags of groceries.
- The next morning, we did an assembly line of moving about 10 bags of food, crafts and giveaways to my elevator. We pushed the down button and we waited. Maybe about 10 minutes. Maybe 15 minutes. I don’t know. But we waited…because I live on the highest floor in my building. And we had TEN BAGS…including a HUMONGOUS luggage bag that was probably about 60 or 70 points.
- When the elevator did not come…but the taxi was downstairs honking his horn like the end of the earth was drawing near, we had to lug all the bags down ALL the flights of stairs over and over and over again. Whatever prettiness I had going on, melted away in sweat. At least I got exercise.
- Once we arrived at the building…there was a bit of wait time…because we were early…so we were sort of standing outside a big warehouse loft building with bags of food and stuff, just standing there.
Even with all the snafus, the party was a success.
So there you have it. Some of my tips and suggestions and anecdotes of what its like to throw a craft party. We were inspired by the DIY activities on the website A Beautiful Mess and decided to make a party out of it and now look what it has grown too. CRAZY AMAZING!!!
Our next party is schedule for Sunday, September 8th. We are focusing on fashion & style and I’m excited. Since its Sunday, maybe my snacks will all be brunch themed. What do you think? If you’re in New York, join us. Tickets are limited. You can purchase your tickets here.