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Tips for Throwing a Trendy Birthday Party

Professional party planner Rachel Hollis shares her top 5 tips for throwing a totally trendy birthday party!

January is my birthday month and as a professional party planner, you can imagine there's a bit of pressure to throw a bash that's a bit bigger than the usual birthday celebration.

Below are my 5 trendiest party planning tips to help you plan a party like a pro.

The Bar

Question one is always what are we drinking? For a cocktail lover like me I don't ever want to serve the same old thing -- I want to show my guests something new.

This year it's about mixology! Mixology by definition is "the skill of preparing mixed drinks" but here on the West Coast it's gone so far beyond that. At my party we'll have every mixer under the sun… mango, peaches, jalapeno, cilantro, wheat grass… if it can be muddled and mixed with liqour it's on the menu!

With a mixologist there are no set drinks, you tell him what you like, i.e. "something fruity, with a hint of spice" and out comes a perfectly prepared drink to fit your flavor palette.

If you don't have a local mixologist you can hire for your own party, consider buying an assortment of fruit and veggie purees and allowing guests to mix their own concoctions. It's definitely a conversation starter, especially if you encourage them to name these creations… I think I'll call mine "The Birthday Girl"!

The Food

The only thing I care about as much as the drinks is the food! This year has been all about bite-sized gourmet and my party will be no exception. Who wants to sit down with a plate on their lap? This is a cocktail party, so no item should take more than two bites to get down.

Think of choices like warm tomato bisque shooters with mini grilled cheese on the rim, individual Chinese chicken salad in take-out boxes, mini beef wellington with foix gras, and my favorite -- truffle fries served in a news paper cone! You can do the same thing at your party, just think mini.

The Décor

I'm always looking to something unique for inspiration, so this year I decided to decorate according to my birthstone color: garnet!

I'm covering everything that will stand upright in deep garnets, maroons, and using various shades of purple as an accent. The deep hues will set the tone for a swanky fete and I'll choose luxurious fabrics (like silk, or velvet) to add texture.


Dessert tables are all the rage! Rather than one simple birthday cake, set a table with all your favorite desserts. Be sure to include fun glassware and containers, and to place your foods at varying heights for some visual fun!

The Surprise

I'm known for doing something unexpected at my parties. I've had fortune tellers, food trucks, and once I had a pair of guitar players walk in unannounced and start playing "Dueling Banjos". Think outside the box, your guests will love it!

Find more party planning inspirations for Adult Birthdays

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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Exotic Cocktail Recipe Video Link to video gallery. Upgrade your spring sips with this cocktail tutorial. »

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