by Diedre Simpson,
The catchy ringtone shrills through the quiet and your heart starts to race as you see the name of your best friend flash across the screen. This is it! She is calling to tell you her big news. Whether she is expecting a little one, getting married or celebrating a birthday, you are thrilled for her. But for you, the real excitement is planning the best party or shower for her.
Then it hits you. Your best friend isn’t the girl next door anymore. She now lives three states away, and long-distance party planning might be a beast. Never fear, the power of the Internet means you can plan a party that wows from anywhere.
Tackle the Travel
When planning a party from afar, you will need to add travel to your task list. Unlike planning a vacation or family trip, traveling to host an event means you won’t have flexibility in your favor. Booking airfare 21 days before your departure could mean an eight percent lower fare over buying six months out, according to a year’s worth of data analysis by Kayak. The same study suggests that flying on a Saturday and returning on a Monday can result in savings up to 16 percent. To take advantage of these savings, schedule your party for a Sunday and make it a weekend adventure. Once you’ve set a date, scour Kayak.com for the best deals on flights and hotels.
Shop and Ship
Perhaps you envision perusing Pinterest for the latest DIY décor ideas and cranking out dozens of handcrafted favors. But, your suitcase is only big enough for your party outfit, your just-in-case outfit, your contingency outfit and the four pairs of shoes you absolutely must have. When planning a celebration long distance, ordering online and shipping to the event location is a safer bet than packing a party in your carryon. Find thousands of favors for bridal and baby showers as well as birthday parties at www.partypail.com. Online party stores also stock paper products such as patterned plates, cups, streamers and lanterns. It’s easier to create a theme with this planning avenue to add an extra dose of fun to your party.
Get Professional Help
Even a DIY maven needs a little help sometimes. Planning a party or shower from far away means outsourcing some things you might have typically done yourself. Use yelp.com to compare event sites, florists, caterers and other services. Look beyond just the star ratings and read the reviews for an idea of what other customers have experienced. Start planning early. Working with a caterer, florist or bakery typically requires a month or more of lead time.
Get the Word Out
Even a perfectly planned party isn’t any fun if no one is there. Long-distance party planning means being extra mindful of the guest list. Conventional etiquette suggests that invitations should be mailed out four weeks prior to the event. However, if many invitees are traveling for the party, send out a digital save-the-date as far in advance as possible, and then mail a formal invitation at the four-week mark. PunchBowl.com allows multiple users to contribute to guest lists, imports contacts, sends free digital invites and tracks responses.