The season of giving and gathering with friends is upon us. A crafting event with friends is a great way to celebrate the season, so if you have a craft party in your future, here are a few things to think about that will help make it a success.
Before the party:
Determine the craft(s) you will be doing. You will want to think about:
The skill level of the crafters. Are your crafters seasoned and can work on more complicated projects easily, or are they novices that need an intro-level craft.
The interests of the recipients. Don’t make a tea-cozy for someone who doesn’t like hot drinks. Try to think of something somewhat universally compatible with a large range of people since there will be multiple crafters making things for multiple people.
Cost of materials. Decide on a budget
Time. How long does it take to make your project – factor skill level into this calculation. A general rule of thumb to follow – if you are introducing someone to a craft that you have lots of experience with but they have never done before, figure it will take twice the amount of time for them to make it as you. (Yes, really, I know this from experience.)
Venue. Where will you have it? At your house, someone else’s house, the church fellowship hall? This will impact the size of your group, but also logistics when it comes to getting people and supplies to your party. For many crafts you also need to consider clean-up that requires water, so make sure there’s a sink nearby if this is the case.
Table space. You may have a huge space to host your party, but if you only have one table, this is going to significantly cramp your style. Think about the amount of space needed to create the craft comfortably and how many people you can accommodate given your venue. If you have a relatively quick craft and not a ton of table space, you may want to consider rotating folks between the snack table and the craft table. This way you don’t have to narrow down your guest list, but everyone has reasonable space to work. Plus we all want an excuse for another cookie and time to catch up with friends.
Decide who will provide the materials:
Everyone brings their own. This is really for seasoned crafters. If your party-goers are well versed in the craft you are going to do, they may want to bring their own materials out of personal preference.
Host provides all materials. This is good if you have a group that is new to a craft. They may not know how or where to get the materials they need and asking them to hunt them down could be stressful for them.
Combination of both. I think of this sort of like a pot-luck where the host has the majority of the needed items – particularly the base items, and guests can bring extras they may want to use to embellish the craft. This is a little more fun in that your guests get to go shopping for fun stuff, but it’s not as intimidating as tracking down components they aren’t familiar with.
Don’t forget things like glue, pins, staples, or any other easily overlooked but necessary sundry items. Start making a list or collecting these things at least a week in advance to give yourself time to remember everything.
Think about messes in advance
Protect your work area – cover your work table so you don’t have unwanted reminders of your craft party in the form of paint on your dining room table.
Protect your party-goers. If you have some aprons you can hand out, these are great or ask people to bring their own. In a pinch some old dress shirts will work if you don’t have anything else. You can also get disposable plastic serving aprons if you want quick and easy clean-up. A Tide pen is never a bad idea either.
Have plenty of paper towels on hand and set out. Spills are going to happen, so it’s better to have the paper towels in reach than searching for them before that spill sinks completely into the carpet.
Brush cups. I can’t tell you how much it bugs me when people let paint dry in their
Garbage Cans. Have plenty of these out and in easy reach so your guests can clean up after themselves. It’s much easier to set a trash can out before the party than curse your messy friends as you clean up after they leave.
Make sure your materials are accessible and
Do you want them all laid out in one place buffet-style? If you have enough counter space, this can be a good way to give crafters the best idea of all their options.
Do you want to set up place-setting style with the needed materials set up at each person’s space before the craft starts. This is a good way to help people know where their “spot” is and can take some of the stress out of the musical chairs that inevitably happens.
Think about the various steps of the project. You may have too many parts and pieces or not enough table space for everything at once, so consider staging your craft in parts if this is the case. It will keep your table more tidy and make things run more smoothly since you won’t be hunting through all the materials at once.
Don’t forget the essentials like scissors, pens & pencils, tape, etc. If you don’t have enough for each person to have their own (and really, this is most people) set up boxes or baskets for these materials to be stored in where everyone can reach them as needed.
Crafting & Instructions
Wow, we’re like two pages in and we’re finally now just getting to the crafting part!
If your group is a seasoned pack of crafters, there’s probably little instruction that’s going to be needed aside from where the rest of the wine is stored.
If you have a group of total novices, plan on going slow and asking lots of questions as you work to make sure everyone is on track. You may want to demonstrate the craft or technique first, or at the very least, give them a run-down of the steps of the project to take a little of the mystery out of it. And remember, it will take a newcomer twice the amount of time to complete their project as an experienced crafter.
Check in on everyone as the craft progresses so they know there’s help available if they need it. Encourage questions from the group as, if one person has a question, the others may as well but are to shy to ask.
When it’s all done:
Take a Picture
Everyone will want to remember the fun time you had together and show off their creation.
To keep from having to take 1000 pictures with everyone’s phones, designate one person to take the group photo and send it out to everyone. Make sure to take multiple photos at this time so you can choose the best one – someone’s eyes are always closed, so this is a good buffer against that.
Depending on the craft, you may need to think about how people are going to get their craft home. We do a succulent wreath class at The Devilish Egg that is quite soggy at the end of the night and people have to put it in their cars to get it home. We provide a large piece of cardboard for transportation to protect the upholstery on the ride home. We also have a bath bomb class with bath bombs that are very fragile until they have time to dry overnight. For these, we make little nests of soft paper in boxes to keep them still, cushioned, and safe on the journey home.
Many hands make light work. Asking your friends to help you clean up is not only helpful for you, it’s also a way for them to give back and show their appreciation for your hosting efforts. Many times guests want to help out at then end of an event, so don’t feel bashful about accepting the help.
On the other hand, it can sometimes be faster for you to get everybody the heck out of your house so you can clean the place up the way you like it. Either way, do what works best for you.