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With her L.A.-based company Chic Events, Rachel Hollis has dreamed up parties for every occasion. She’s even managed to pick up a few tricks to help parents please crowds of all ages.

How can party planning be more manageable for people with small children?
Have courage; people are going to be so appreciative of anything you do! Go with your strengths: If you don’t know how to cook, but make good cocktails, great! You can get the food from a local restaurant. Do the things you’re good at. Give yourself wiggle room on things you’re less familiar with.

How can parents involve their kids?
I like to keep them busy and out of my hair. I’ll often say, “Go to the backyard and find three branches and two pretty flowers,” and I’ll incorporate those things into the decor. It becomes a game for them.

 

How can you make sure all age groups have fun?
Think of it as two separate parties. Create the party for the adults first, then take part of that theme and make it appropriate for kids. There is a craft station at all of my parties. When guests ask what they can bring, I’ll ask them instead to commit to half an hour at the craft table. Someone’s always lifeguarding the table, and everybody can focus on having a good time.

What is the most common party-planning mistake?
Many people don’t give themselves enough time. Plan like a Boy Scout, and always be prepared.

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