how to host a craft party

I had such a fine + fabulous experience hosting my first craft party, or more creatively entitled Crafternoon, that I'd like to dedicate a post to sharing my thoughts and tips for anyone up to the challenge of hosting her own in the future! Although I could probably talk your ear off on this subject, I will try to simplify the matter into a brief, handy list. I apologize in advance that this post will be heavy on words and light on photos. {I shared a whole bunch of photos from the event last week, so in case you missed them, do check them out.}

1. If you build it, they will come. It's true. When I first posted an invitation for this party, I was a nervous wreck, thinking no one would show. But I learned that girls love a chance to get together, and they double love a chance to get creative when everything is spread out in front of them. So many of my friends say they wish they could be more crafty but don't have the time or inspiration. I shared a public invite both on facebook and this blog, hoping to meet some new crafty girls in the area and also share my love of crafting with some of my old in-real-life friends. In the end, I had such an overwhelming response that I had to turn some girls away. Stab me in the heart.

2. Plan, plan, plan. Even before sending out invites, plan what crafts you will to make. Not only will this step provide for a great teaser in the invite ("We'll be making X, Y, and Zs!!"), you'll also have more time to fine tune everything as the party approaches. Take inventory of the supplies you already have and make lists of the supplies you need to gather.

3. Time it. Be realistic about time frame. One project may take the entire duration of the party. Or teach your guests a smattering of techniques with 3-5 simple projects to fill the afternoon. Whatever you do, time yourself as you make each sample in order to guesstimate how long to schedule the party or when to quit coming up with more and more projects. (Ahem, super guilty here.)

4. Details. Don't forget about tools. This was an afterthought for me and I scrambled the day before asking people to bring extra scissors and paper punches. I was buying needles and tape and asking guests to sharpen pencils at the last minute. Tools are just as important as the craft supplies themselves and although we're all grown-ups, let's face it; in this case, the less sharing the better!

Do double duty with party favors and set out bags labeled with each guest's name so there is a space for her to put finished crafts throughout the party and a handy way to tote home her spoils.

5. Don't break the bank. Don't be afraid to ask your guests to bring a small amount of cash to share in the cost of supplies. I've never known a craft party without a supply fee (at least when the hostess is providing supplies). Another reason it's so important to determine the projects before sending out the invite is so that you can set a realistic budget and a realistic amount to pass on to each guest. I'll be completely honest here and say that my party did cost more than $10/person. But my intention was not to break even, it was only to avoid breaking the bank.

6. Be firm on numbers. I cannot, repeat, cannot stress this enough. Can I be frank with you? I had a lot of unnecessary anxiety over the guest list. Here's why: I specifically asked everyone to RSVP asap, but received a ton of maybes. When planning this sort of party, it's really difficult to work with all of the maybes in the crowd. {No offense to anyone in this boat!} I 100% understand that life is unpredictable, but I urge you to make it a clear expectation that your guests commit. Tell them you need to have a firm number in order to buy the proper amount of supplies. Next time I am seriously considering collecting everyone's supply fee in advance via Paypal, just so that they are less likely to flake.

Also in this vein,
7. Know your limits. Have a maximum number of guests your home/venue can hold and don't go over it. If the party is too crowded to craft the fun factor will go down. I set my magic number at 20 and had to start a waiting list at this point. After a bunch of last minute cancellations, I believe the final head count was 16. I think that was a perfect number for my house. Why did I invite so many people that I ended up saying no?? Because I didn't want to be exclusive. I wanted to open it up to anyone and everyone who was interested in this sort of thing. The best part about craft parties is that they can be big or small. For a close circle of friends or for everyone in your social network. Know what is manageable for you and your life!

8. Map out your house. This is also key. Each separate craft should have a designated station. What rooms/areas would make good work spaces? Plan which crafts can be done on laps and which crafts require tables and chairs. Keep messy projects near a sink. Put projects that may take the most time in a large room and smaller-scale projects in a smaller area. If there is a two-part project, keep both stations adjacent to one another. That is one huge mistake I made. We made yarn wreaths, decorated with felt flowers. Half of the girls finished the yarn ring all at once and were wanting to learn the felt flowers. I had put the flower project in the smallest room with the least amount of workspace. Somehow I hadn't anticipated that people would spend as much time as they did crafting these to beautifully decorate their wreaths. People were sitting on the floor, tracing on the walls, and bumping into each other left and right. {And what dearies, they weren't even complaining!}

9. Feed them! I know this is basic, but I just want to say keep it simple here. One great way to keep party costs down is to ask guests to bring treats to share. I turned my party into half craft making, half Christmas cookie swapping. The spread was amazing--way better than I ever could have done by myself. It was so fun to sample everyone's baking talent. All I had to worry about was drinks! It's also important to consider that you'll be spending tons of time the day before cleaning your house and setting up your crafts, and the last thing you need to fret over is food.

10. Enjoy yourself.
Face it, you can't be all things to all people. You can't individually teach every guest every project, or hold lengthy personal conversations with everyone. That's why for large-scaled craft parties or for varied skill levels, make certain that you are not the only one who knows what the heck is going on. (i.e. delegate.) I asked a few of my craftiest friends to arrive early so that I give them a brief run-down of all the projects. My sil kept the coffee brewing and felt free to mix & mingle. It was wonderful. Like growing extra sets of hands and eyes. I was able to relax and chat a whole lot more because I knew there were plenty of friendly resources bouncing throughout the house. It's also helpful to create multiple samples (if you have time!) of each project to not only present the basic concept but inspire variations on a theme.


Wow, so much for short. I really hope this is helpful!

I'd love to turn the comments into somewhat of a forum. I want to hear your feedback, questions, or advice on any area I missed! Also, please feel free to share links to your own craft parties past or present here!!


RMT ellen said...

awesome! thanks for the break down! So fulfilling to organize something with a sense of community and so rewarding to become productive with a little creativity and your two hands! A beautiful gift for the season!

Leah said...

I want to do this so bad!


Leslie said...

this is seriously how we did it too, down to a T.

Minus the we provided the food, and I think other than that it wouldn't have been stressfull at all.

I totally agree with #'s being firm, and we also got tons of people wanting to come I was shocked...we hoped for 6 and got 16.

mama b said...

thank you thank you for all your tips! i am SO doing it. i fear about having a tiny rancher, but we have a big great room that i think would be helpful. i am ACTIVELY planning a valentine's day craft soiree, thanks to your & leslie's sweet inspiration.

and i am in love with your house. it is so cottagey-romantically-vintagey-sweet. please please post a full tour whenever you are able! every little glimpse i see just leaves me dying to see more! :)

Amanda said...

Fantastic! Great tips... now I want to try it out!

Fairlightday said...

Fabulous tips! And I'm so glad that I'm sharing the load with a friend. It's making it so much easier ( I think!) And plus we have double the supplies. Never mind that the back of my van is chock full of dishes and tablecloths and supplies, it's still so much better than doing it all myself. Thank you for sharing Jess! I'm still so in love with all the pictures...

marta said...

jessica.. i have been meaning to send you a big 'OH WOW' comment. i adore your christmas crafternoon party idea. i've been saying 'christmas crafternoon' a lot ever since reading it here! such a cheery reason to party. thank you for your tried and true hostessing tips. merry, merry.

On Second Street said...

i don't think you missed a thing. You did a great job.

Julie said...

Hello. I saw your awesome post on Marta's blog. Love, love, LOVE the idea. I wished I could be your friend and get invited to the next one! Maybe I'll have to organize something similar for my pals!

hoopty doopty said...

Hi Jessica!
Love your blog and thanks so much for sharing a great how-to. This is by far my favourite from marta's how-to series.
Curious if you own Crafternoon ? I thought of this book which I actually won at a give-away a couple of years back.
I am hoping to host a crafty get together in the future. It's been on my list of things I want to do for quite sometime.
Again, thanks for a very thoughtful and informative post. X