From baby showers to milestone birthday parties, Darcy Miller's new book, "CELEBRATE EVERYTHING!" is a party-planning bible full of resources, tips and DIY ideas to throwing beautifully curated get-togethers. If you ever found yourself spending hours on Pinterest looking for that special something to take your party from ordinary to extraordinary, you can thank Miller for saving you tons of time by simply getting all the inspiration you need—all in the palm of your hand. We asked Miller her secrets to the best parties and how you can achieve party-planning success without the stress.
Personalize cupcakes with on-theme toppers.
Mom.me: What are the two things most people forget about or overlook in relation to throwing parties that they shouldn't?
Miller: “Timing. Everything always takes longer than you think. I like to give myself a fake deadline. For a bigger party, I like to pretend the event is two weeks before it actually is—so that if there are any last minute surprises or late deliveries, they’re easy to take care of and there’s no scrambling or rushing at the last second! There will always be things that HAVE to be last minute (e.g. baking a cake) so it’s best to make sure everything else is taken care of before then. (Although truth be told, I’ve been known to stay up pretty late the night before cutting up paper decorations or putting sweets into bags—I should take more of my own advice!)”
Choosing one motif to appear throughout the food and décor brings your theme to life.
Mom.me: How much time do you typically spend planning an informal get-together?
Miller: "I don’t think there’s any set time about how long something takes to plan. Obviously, the more time you have, the less rushed it is, which makes it not only more enjoyable but you’re also not paying for rushed orders at the last second! That being said, the most important thing is about being with people who mean something to you. Not having enough time shouldn’t be a reason not to have people over—no matter what kind of occasion it is. In "CELEBRATE EVERYTHING!" I wanted to make sure to not only include the ideas that require some advance planning but those that can be put together very quickly and spontaneously. Who needs a bouncy castle when you can just do a scavenger hunt in the backyard based on the birthday boy or girl’s favorite things? One of my favorite parts of any party is a toast—the moment where you take time to appreciate being together with the people you love. I even remember a birthday party of a friend of mine where the brother made a toast to his five-year-old sister!"
Mom.me: Do you recommend hiring help to help set up, decorate, break down and clean up to offset some of the stress of a party?
Miller: "Extra hands always help! It really depends on the size of the party—or the age of the kids invited (much younger kids need to be watched more closely). If it’s a larger scale affair, I think hiring extra help is worth the investment—give yourself a chance to enjoy your own celebration! Extra help doesn’t necessarily have to mean professionals—your babysitter or next door neighbor’s kid are great options. And when I’m hosting a party for my friends, I always find fun ways to get my kids to help. It could be helping to set the table, sprinkle confetti or take coats at the door! Not only does the extra help not hurt, but kids always enjoy having a job to do and getting in on the fun."
Mom.me: As a host, how do you make meaningful connections to your guests without having wedding syndrome—a whirlwind of an event where you don't get to talk to anyone?
Miller: "I always try to be standing as close to the front door when my guests arrive so that I can properly greet everyone. It’s very easy to get sidetracked in conversation once you get pulled into the party. I also always like to give all guests a little favor with a something personal—like a message—in it as they are leaving."
Custom-ordered soap printed with my drawing of a fawn was given as favors. Each bar came in a muslin bag decorated with a made-to-order rubber stamp in gold ink.
Mom.me: What's the most thoughtful or creative thing you've seen at a party? Did you incorporate it into any of your parties?
Miller: "The funny thing is, people ask me all the time what the best party I’ve thrown or attended has been, and what’s my favorite thing from it. The answer is never just about ONE thing at the party. It’s the little personal details that make each party memorable that I remember the most. A friend of mine once sang a surprise original song to her husband at their wedding, and for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah this year, her sister wrote and performed a song about her and my husband I rapped to a Hamilton song rewritten about her because she’s obsessed with the musical!"
Mom.me: What's your favorite signature party trick? Where did you learn it?
Miller: "I love a party packed with little details and surprises that create a long lasting memory of the party. When I had a bridal shower for my friends Tiler and Robbie, I had gotten photos of the both of them growing up in advance—without them knowing—and made a photo timeline with Minted decals of them along the wall. It was so fun to see Tiler look around the room and notice all the personal details—she was so touched. I always love a personal guestbook type idea, too—something that encourages people to leave messages for the guest of honor to get to keep afterwards. Recently, when I was looking through a photo album from a party for my dad that was forty years ago, I noticed that my mom had done the same thing! I get all my best tricks from my parents—they’re a huge influence on both me and my sister."
Mom.me: As your girls get older, is party throwing becoming easier or harder?
Miller: "It’s becoming more fun! My girls have so many creative ideas and now that they are a little older they have lots of great input and are involved in more aspects of their own party planning. We love to “DIT” (do it together) in my house and the more that we can do together, the more the party truly feels like them. When they were younger and we would invite the whole class to each birthday, the parties were bigger—as they’ve gotten older, they have more intimate parties or sleepovers with fewer friends. One of my favorite parts of planning parties when I was going up was doing things with my Mom, which always started with making the invitation together and that’s a tradition that we’ve carried on and that she now does with my kids—birthday parties are family affairs in our house for sure."
Want even more party planning tips? Check out Darcy Miller Designs for even more resources and inspiration.