Beautiful Classicly Amber is my guest today, and she’s my kind of girl. Just look at her side bar and you can see what’s on her “to do” list right now. And if you want to know what rocks her socks, check out this page!

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I love Amber’s recipes and photography … and she’s really in to design, farm, and food! Thank you, Amber, for being my guest today at RE!

Howdy all! My name is Amber and I am the Amber behind ClassiclyAmber, the blog where I share all kinds of crap about my life – anything from design inspiration to homesteading to mealtime recipes to crafting to – well, stop by sometime to see! :D You can just call me The Reluctant Guest Poster, though, because I have honestly been so nervous about taking over someone else’s blog, especially Sandy’s since she reigns the domestic entertaining scene! She just really inspires me with her down to earth, classy style of entertaining and making others feel special in her home. I have been taking notes from her on being the best hostess – and I just can’t wait until her book comes out so I can learn more!

I was asked by Sandy to share some of my thoughts about what our family does to throw a simple party. You know those, right? Those are the times when you really want to create a party that is special, yet stress-free [or as close to it as you can get!]. I’ve had to learn this the hard way in my near-decade of being a mom.

Looking back, I can see that I put WAY too much emphasis on all the extra stuff for parties when it didn’t do much for the quality of a celebration that my birthday kiddo was having.

Sure – it impressed friends and family, but it got the point to where I was sacrificing my sanity [and my child’s happiness?] just to do that. Basically, I wanted to throw a Martha Stewart style shuhbang without having any of her fabulous assistants to help out. Plus, I started feeling like each year, I had to outdo the previous year’s party I had put on. I have no idea how I got started in that crazy cycle, but have seen other moms get caught up in it, too. It’s time to break free!

Here are my tips for throwing a successful, simple party:

1. First and foremost, throw out any rules!!

These are the preconceived notions of what you think a celebration should be like and allow yourself to pick what YOU want it to be like! If you are having a birthday party for your child and cake is NOT his favorite, then why are we making it a focal point for dessert on his special day again?? Let him pick his own dessert, if you’re into freedom of choice here. He might ask for apple pie or brownies…or sweet potatoes with ketchup. Is it really such a big deal to not make a traditional birthday cake? Well, you won’t get those standard cutesie birthday cake pics if you’re feeding your child his favorite sweet potatoes with ketchup, but we aren’t celebrating the perfect pics in a birthday album. Plus, it can be just as cute to be covered in sweet potatoes and ketchup for the pics, right? Anyway, we are celebrating a person, and every person has their own unique tastes. Let the celebration reflect the person you are celebrating. So don’t get caught up in traditions, if you’d rather not. Start your OWN traditions and do what YOUR family loves! :)

2. Prioritize

If you’re anything like me, you have to clearly define your limits or else the temptation to go overboard is very real. Define the 3 most important aspects of your celebration. I’m saying to just focus on 3 big things so that this whole celebration-thing doesn’t get out of hand. Here are my 3 usual areas of focus for a simple party: quality of the food [I enjoy showing my love by making food as gourmet as possible], make one or two things specifically for the Star of the Show [what’s popular around here right now are my homemade hats and custom table mats, sure to change as the kids get older. maybe.], and the birthday gift. We always ask a week or two in advance: “So honey, what all types of foods would you like to chow down on – on your big day?” I like to prepare their fav breakfast, lunch and dinner – and desserts, of course! Make it a simple all-day-long celebration! Last, if I have the time, inspiration and wherewithal, I will do light decorations for a simple party, too [balloons, banner, ribbons, candles, flowers].

3. Quality trumps quantity

Yes, it can be fun to have 50 guests at the party, but bear in mind that that means a lot of extra food and drink preparation. Plus, when I’ve upped the number of guests to my parties, I have found that I had to start upping party details, while also cutting back on the quality of each detail. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. However, for me and my messed up mind, I felt like I truly couldn’t sacrifice quality as much, so then I had to sacrifice my sanity in preparing gourmet food for all of those people. Let me tell you…you have no idea what it feels like to plan this massive party and then to actually have some of your guests come in and help you finish up food – or decor – or whatever – – all because you overextended yourself. [[[embarrassment]]] I am not talking about light details here. I am talking about my adding in extra main course foods at the last minute just so we could have more guests…or be more fancy…or whatever. It was like I didn’t know when to stop – and it happened to me many, many times. So I learned that even though the quality of my food was still good, it was the quality of the experience for not only my guests but also myself that was totally lacking there.

Please let me reiterate that in and of itself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a big time celebration. For our family, though, we decided to cut back on those for yearly birthdays and keep it more simple…and they are more meaningful to us. We now save the big celebrations for milestone birthdays and events, and since those don’t come as often, then it is easier to handle [for me, anyways!].

Over and over again, ask yourself WHY you’re doing each specific thing that you’re doing for the party.

If you can’t justify it, then save yourself the stress by skipping over it. Plus, once you try hosting a quality down-sized party, you will see how enjoyable it can be for you and everyone!

So this is how our family has simple celebrations for non-milestone birthdays and low-key dinner parties, etc. I hope these tips have helped bring freedom to someone out there who feels like she has to overdo it to prove her love and appreciation to her family.

You really CAN have a wonderful celebration by keeping it uber simple!

And in doing it this way, you will not only have the TIME to show your love and appreciation, but also be relaxed and happy in the process by keeping it perfectly simple.

Have you thought about re-evaluating how you plan for a party? If so, what aspects of planning a party really seem to steal your joy?

Don’t forget to LINK UP tomorrow to Home is … and share a springy tablescape!