Imagine throwing parties for a living. Now, imagine throwing them for the likes of Fortune 100 companies when they need to launch a new product at South by Southwest, thank their employees with an over-the-top holiday party at a remote location or host a week-long conference complete with daily workshops, nightly events and a farewell bash for a thousand people. That’s all in a day’s work for Natalie Kennedy, the founder and boss of not one, not two but three event planning companies: Kennedy Creative Events, Kennedy Weddings and Kennedy DMC (AKA Destination Management Company). Needless to say, she’s brimming with party planning tips gleaned from years of experience.
With Halloween coming up, there’s no better time to plan out a soiree with friends and theme it to the max. But take it from someone who knows: Natalie says that the most important element of any party or special event is the VIBE. You can have all the bells and whistles in the world, she says, but the biggest thing to keep in mind is whether or not you’re setting your guests up to have a good time.
“Halloween is one of my favorites,” Natalie says. “I throw a Wig & ‘Stache Halloween Bash every year. If guests want to go all out and get into a major costume, then they certainly can. But, if they only have time to throw on a wig, that’s cool too. It’s an open door for anybody and everybody, and it’s all-inclusive and not overly done.”
Wait… what? This from a woman who’s launched new models of cars at curated industry events on hilltop vistas, whose team has preferred planner status with high-end hotels and who once literally set the stage for a speech given by President Obama himself? That’s right. When it comes to throwing a great party, Natalie says, the thing that matters most is giving your guests what they want. And most of the time, particularly when it’s just a gathering of friends and acquaintances, all guests really want is good fun.
“We always do a specialty cocktail and name it something fun and thematic, like Black Magic or Hocus Pocus,” Natalie says of her Halloween party. But other than that and some on-point decor, she doesn’t get too crazy. “Costume dressing can be expensive and intimidating for people, especially those who have kids and busy lives,” she says. “So, at our party, no one’s expected to plan a costume for hours and hours; they can just come, enjoy a drink and have a laid-back time. That’s often the best kind of party, really — one where everyone gets to relax and let their hair down a little.”
Aside from the easy breezy bash she throws each October for friends and employees, Natalie and her Austin-based team spend the other 364 days of the year producing epic events for everyone from boho brides and edgy tech startups to established global brands. With a perspective like hers and experience to back it up, it’s safe to say she never throws a lame party. Pro tip: Take a page from her book and you won’t either!
Are you throwing a laid-back Halloween party or an all-out extravaganza this year? Tell us why in the comment section below!
(Photos via Kennedy Creative Events)