Do you know what a My Favorite Things Party is? I have already hosted four successful events, with the most recently held, Alice in Wonderland, Unbirthday Party Reveal.
Having my Fabulous Breakfast at Tiffany’s Brunch featured on Between Naps on the Porch this past summer, led to an onslaught of comments and questions. Lots and lots of ‘em!
Several ladies even enlisted my services in recreating theme parties for their own circle of friends. Others inquired and purchased some of the party decorations or ordered wreaths.
And, numerous folks urged me to start a blog of my own. So here I am, having launched Debbee’s Buzz in late October. More recently, I opened an online Etsy shop called, DebbeesBuzzBoutique where I sell one-of-a-kind wreaths, and unique party decorations.
Today’s post is the first of a two-part article on how to host your own extraordinary My Favorite Things Party.
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How It All Started
Several years ago, dear British Friend suggested I needed something to look forward to. I’d been dealing with some stressful medical and family situations and realized she was right.
DIY My Favorite Things guest invitations, also serve to reveal the party theme.
So, I decided to have a party for all the friends who had supported and encouraged me.
Problem was, what kind of party could I have that would throw together a bunch of people who had never met? Most would only know one to two others, and several would only know yours truly!
I always have a theme specific welcome sign, and designate an area to drop off gifts for the exchange.
As I was scanning through Pinterest I noticed a blog posting for something called a My Favorite Things Party. The event did double duty as a book launch by the author. Another party, put a different spin on a Christmas gift exchange.
“…brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things.”
A Reason to Party
Initially, my friends mostly only had knowing me in common. But, they are all similar in being of a ‘certain age’ and life experience. And, who doesn’t love an excuse to eat desserts while everyone gets the chance to open and received beautifully wrapped gifts?!
I stamped my own mark on the Favorite Things Party premise, by adding a theme, handmade invitations, decorations, wrapped gifts, games, prizes and favors. So hosting is now one of my very favorite things to do!
My French Queen Bee theme wrapped packages from the very first party.
In part one, I’ll cover the Favorite Things Party basics, with some options and suggestions you can use to create your own signature event. British Friend had no idea what she started; letting my creative genie out of the bottle!
3 Most Common Questions
I’m gonna assume most of you have never heard of a My Favorite Things Party? Let’s start with the three most common questions I get asked.
1. What is a My Favorite Things Party?
It’s an occasion where you bring together friends, neighbors and family to socialize and exchange gifts for a fun-filled afternoon or evening.
Friends share a laugh during a game to break the ice, while drinking Bee Sting cocktails. I always serve a signature non-alcoholic and alcoholic drink that ties in with the party theme.
2. What is a favorite thing?
A favorite thing is an item that is special to the guest, with a preset spending limit. The gift to exchange may be one of many kinds of items. Think categories like; kitchen gadget, book, beauty product, fashion accessory, candle, home decor, stationary, tea/coffee, food, recipe w/key ingredient, beverage, candy/snack, etc.
Get the idea?
An enticing pile of gifts to be exchanged. I ask guests to wrap and tag their three items.
Check out, 16 Favorite Beauty Basics: Skin, Hair & Dental Care for some specific ideas.
3. How do you do the exchange?
Choose the Dollar Amount & Number of Items
“As the hostess of a My Favorite Things Party, the first and most important decision is setting a dollar limit per item, and the number of that same item each guest is to bring.”
That’s the most essential element and underlying premise for a Favorite Things Party. Most of the rest of the suggestions and advice below come from my experience in hosting
three four successful events. There is no rule book. Party details are dependent on what makes the most sense for you and your circle of friends.
Here’s what you need to know …
5 Basics to Hosting a Successful Exchange
1. Decide # of items to exchange
2. Pick $ amount for each item
3. Determine if guests bring food
4. Send out the invitation with exchange instructions
5. Set up system for exchanging gifts
1. Decide # of items to exchange
Most Favorite Things Parties I’ve seen on Pinterest, average three to five identical gifts brought per guest. Each gift equates to the number of exchange rounds. I have always done three items per person, or three rounds.
Designated area for favorite things during peacock theme party. I always package my gifts to fit the theme, but guests are free to wrap or bag their favorite things however they like.
What to Consider
The number of gifts you choose should take into consideration:
- how many people will attend the party (don’t forget to count yourself)
- how many guests you can fit comfortably into a single area, with enough space to display all the gifts and allow traffic flow during the exchange (food and socializing can be in other rooms)
Maybe, if you only have six to eight people, five rounds might make sense? I also wouldn’t have any more than 16-20 people maximum or the exchange could take hours.
It was a lovely day , so the Tiffany theme party was held outside, under the covered porch and pergola.
A Tight Fit
I confess to things being a bit snug at my house, as the number of guests has risen to 16-18 attendees. The first year I had 12. This fourth year was 17, as my Favorite Things Party has become a not-to-be-missed event. I get a high percentage of “yes” RSVP’s.
Guests at the beverage bar wearing Whimsical Teacup Fascinators I made for the Wonderland theme party.
Last year, for the first time, my sister flew in, and my college roommate drove all the way across the state! This year, two sister-in-laws and another dear friend also came long distance. It was a wee bit tight, but happily we were able to dine outdoors on the covered porch.
Read all about it at, Alice in Wonderland, Unbirthday Party Reveal.
Choosing a dollar amount for each gift should take into consideration the number of each item to be purchased (i.e. the grand total), and a figure that is a reasonable amount for guests to spend.
You want it to be a fun shopping outing, not a cost-prohibitive situation that could make anyone feel uncomfortable or avoid coming.
The cost per item I’ve seen is $5-$20, with $5-$10 the most common.
Remember, whatever dollar amount you choose needs to be multiplied by the number of exchange rounds. That determines your guests’ total outlay.
Do the math and tweak either the dollar amount or number of gifts, until you reach a total expenditure everyone will be comfortable with.
I always give large shopping bags for the ladies to take home all their party loot.
Usually the lower the dollar amount, the more of each item. With a higher limit of $15-$20, perhaps just one to two gifts. A lower dollar amount can make it a fun shopping challenge too. Doesn’t everyone love the thrill of the hunt? Or, finding a great deal?
Flamingo croquet theme packages and looking glass tags I created for the Wonderland party.
For the last three years I chose $8, but the gals “voted” (by proclamation) to increase it to $10 for 2018. I think some of them were already on the prowl for this year’s gift exchange?! The ladies have become somewhat competitive…
3. Determine who is doing the food & beverages
First of all, decide if your Favorite Things Party is going include a meal, snacks, desserts, or maybe wine and cheese. That food choice might also be dependent on the size of your guest list.
I’ve done it differently every year. The Sunday afternoon bee party featured appetizers and desserts. Gourmet pizza from a local favorite was the core of the peacock party menu, held on a Friday night. Tiffany’s party was a Saturday champagne brunch. Most recently, the Unbirthday Party was a Sunday afternoon three-course tea.
A unique, layered sandwich “cake” was a showstopper on the Unbirthday party buffet table.
Because my party is a sort of thank you present to family and friends, I have always put together a menu and made or purchased all the food and beverages myself. For me, it’s part of the fun of holding a My Favorite Things Party once a year. I also like the food and tableware to tie-in with the party’s theme.
Check out, Bee Theme Party Food Features Honey, Lemon for all the menu details from the first party.
The whole affair is meant as an annual show of appreciation for my guests. A thank you for their friendship, love, support and humor.
My talented friend M made these gorgeous chocolate-covered strawberries for Brunch at Debbee’s.
Some of my friends and family travel long distances or come directly from work, so that factors in too. I don’t want them to have the extra hassle of making or bringing food.
Do What Works for You
That being said, it all depends on you and the dynamics of the group. Maybe you love to cook and bake, or your friends do? Or, you work and are balancing raising little ones, so ordering pickup or delivery might make sense? Take your budget, interests and time constraints all into account.
Again, there are no hard and fast rules. Make it fun!
4. Create & send out invitations with gift instructions
Chances are most of your guests won’t know what the heck a My Favorite Things Party is! So, the invitation needs to include an explanation of the gift exchange, including the number of items and spending limit.
My party invites not only include gift ideas and instructions, but corny puns lol!
I suggest you also send the invitation out earlier than you would normally for a party. Maybe two-four weeks earlier! That provides the opportunity for guests to go on the hunt and shop for their favorite thing. And, if they are asked to bring food too, time to get everything figured out and prepared.
Queen of Theme?
I love the idea of receiving beautiful, fun invitations in the mail, and craft my own. You’ve probably noticed that each Favorite Things Party I’ve held carries a theme. That has given rise to my nickname, The Queen of Theme! Some suggested that’s what I should have named my blog.
The theme is revealed to guests when they receive their invites. I like to think of it as The Big Reveal!
Invitation for Brunch at Debbee’s, which had Breakfast at Tiffany’s party theme.
There are people on Etsy who create My Favorite Things Party printed invitations, or templates to customize and print your own. I found about two dozen recently on a quick Google search, although most were specific to Christmastime.
Pretty peacock theme invitations made with vintage imagery using a card kit.
It’s also easy to search for vendors or ideas in Pinterest.DIY Alice in Wonderland Invitation: My Favorite Things Party.
I continually add to my own Pinterest board, Party: My Favorite Things. There, I collect pins, blog posts and party ideas on everything from invitations, to gift ideas, favors, and decorations. There are also party and theme-specific boards on Debbee’s Buzz Pinterest profile. You are welcome to follow along as I add pictures and themes.
The Queen of Theme, aka Holly Golightly in the party photo “booth.”
Email or eVites an Option
Instead of printed invitations, you could also quickly and easily send out emails, or create an eVite using a vendor like Paperless Post. These online services also help to manage RSVPs, provide driving directions, reminders, etc.
If you work, or have a lot of demands on your time, then make it easy on yourself and go the email route.
Just because I go over-the-top, doesn’t mean you need to! I certainly don’t want to intimidate anyone from having a simple, fun gathering of friends. Don’t create barriers — like needing fancy or expensive invitations. It’s OK to keep it simple. Really!
5. Set up a system for exchanging gifts
Choose Names or Numbers
Most parties I’ve seen, ask each guest to write their name on sheets of paper (dependent on the number of gifts to be exchanged). Those slips are then placed in baskets or bowls. Others have just one bucket, and ask that each guest put their name on a single piece of paper.
As the hostess, don’t forget to add your name!
Gifts are usually displayed on a long table, unwrapped, with a place card indicating who brought what. Guests have seen the gifts ahead of time, so they already have an idea of which items they’d most like to have.
I use a lottery system, where each guests receives a little box with three color-coded numbers. One color for each gift exchange round.
Either method, the exchange usually starts by the hostess drawing the first name and putting it aside. That person then chooses their first gift and draws the next name. The process continues until every guest has chosen a gift in an exchange round.
You can either then place all the name slips back into the original basket, or go on to the next one for each subsequent exchange round. Easy peasy!
Party guests checking out their lottery numbers tucked inside handmade peacock Curvy boxes.
Everyone takes home as many items as they bring for the exchange.
The What, Why & Where
As each unique item is selected, the guest who brought it explains why it’s one of their favorite things, and where they purchased it. That allows others who don’t nab a coveted item the option of locating it after the party.
Guests enjoy the peacock theme beverage — a peacocktail!
Before I continue, I want to remind you again that there is no official rule book for a Favorite Things Party!
three four, I definitely follow a “party playbook”, which I’ve developed and evolved through experience. It includes what are my favorite things to do (entertain with themes, craft invites, etc.), which are likely different than yours.
Keep an Eye on Gifts
As the hostess, I suggest you keep an eye on what may not be as popular a gift selection. Then, choose one of those items. After all, you don’t want any of your guests to have hurt feelings. And, you especially don’t want their choices narrowed to something they brought to the party!
Everyone loves the fun and surprise of opening a gift.
Another way to spare feelings is to have an exchange rule that applies to the first round (and possibly subsequent rounds). Basically, while guests still pick in the order their names or numbers are drawn, they must choose an item that hasn’t already been selected.
That way everyone’s item is picked in the first round, and they get the chance to explain why it is one of their favorite things.
Debbee’s My Favorite Things Party Playbook
You could stop here and have a lively, fun event. Chances are it’ll be the first My Favorite Things Party any of your guests will have ever attended, and you’ll be an instant star.
The first party I held, not one guest had ever heard of the concept. By the end of the afternoon, they had me agreeing to doing it again the next year (no pressure!). People that missed the party wanted early notice, and I started sending out “save the date” emails.
Friends arrived at the second Birds of a Feather Gather Together party, all in on the concept and embracing the peacock theme! Everyone wants their gift and package to be chosen the most favorite — and I do give out numerous prizes. They are now party pros, arriving with enthusiasm and a tiny bit of competitiveness!
Party guests dress as Holly Golightly for Brunch at Debbee’s.
Stay tuned as I continue to share all more party details and lots of pictures.
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Fourth Party in the
If you’d looking for more ways to amp up the fun, continue on to Host an Extraordinary Favorite Things Party (Part 2). There I provide 6 more suggestions from Debbee’s Party Playbook. In it, I cover:
- Why incorporating a theme makes a party extraordinary
- How a few games help break the ice & creates a fun atmosphere
- Give prizes & party favors
- Wrapped or bagged exchange gifts adds intrigue
- Why and how I add ‘wildcards’ to the gift exchange
- Provide shopping bags to take home
Have you ever hosted or attended a My Favorite Things Party? If so, what was the dollar amount and number of gifts exchanged? What was your favorite thing?
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