You know I love an at-home party, but sometimes space does not permit. That was the case with my twins’ 8th birthday party. As the girls have moved into separate classes at school, their group of friends has expanded and our guest list has grown. We also invite close family to their party, and since we’re a large family, that puts us at 20+ guests. So this year, we’ll have their party at our subdivision’s club house.

So let’s talk about the importance of at least one site visit. Here’s how to plan for a party away from home.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not really a “mountain lodge” kind of girl. But that’s what we’ve got, so part of my task is to make my desired theme and look blend with the setting. For me, that means of palette with yellow to brighten things up.

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So here’s how the main room looked in December. (Please excuse the photo quality.)

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Then yesterday, our community magazine arrived, complete with an article about the newly decorated clubhouse. With Spidey senses tinglying, I raced to the clubhouse. This is how it looks now. Time to press the imaginary reset button.

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I am not a happy girl. Four tables are gone, replaced with something totally different. There go the table runner measurements. And the rectangular coffee table is now a square ottoman. Grrr. Is there anything wrong with the new choices? Not really. (Well, aside from the hideous ottoman fabric and the giant star lamps.) It’s just that every location I had selected for things like activity kits or favors now has to be rethought.

Here’s my favorite piece.

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Thank goodness it is still there. But now, it’s home to a big screen TV and sound system. Yuck. Can I even use this anymore? I don’t want to take apart speakers. And yet I also don’t want them within arm’s reach of children. What to do … what to do …

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So what’s a girl to do except whip out the tape measure and start over.

Before ….

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After …

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Visiting your party site gives you the ability to make a plan

Sigh. Here’s the good news: by visiting, I discovered this problem earlier than the morning of the party. I have time to make a plan. (I think better in pictures.) Here’s the plan AND pictures of the plan come to life!

Mystery Ottoman

Mystery Clues

Mystery Gable Boxes

Mystery Fireplace

Mystery Favor Table

Mystery dessert table front Mystery Dessert Overhead Key

Measure, but also test your plan

I also find that sometimes I can take measurements, but it’s still hard to visualize how something will fit in the space. So I went ahead and tested some things. Here’s how it turns out that the dinning tables need to be set up.

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And now I know that *for sure* I can fit three chairs on the long side of the table. I also know that my DIY cheap-o chair cover will fit. (Dollar store pillow cases, anyone?)

Will your space be challenging to photograph?

Here’s what else I learned: afternoon lighting may be a challenge to photograph. So I’m sending my fab photog (Viridian Images) these photos in advance so Lissette can come prepared.

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Measure twice, cut once, friends. UDPATE: Want to see the final party? Check out my Mystery Party here.

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