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Party Like A Pro

Task: Become a host worthy of a toast 

The Expert Salem native Kelsey Parcell Smith is a corporate event planner with a degree in experience design from BYU. She is currently an event planner for First Colony Mortgage as well as the marketing director for River Bridge Event Center in Spanish Fork. She got her start as the venue director at River Bridge where she learned everything that goes into cultivating killer parties, from big weddings to intimate get-togethers. Here are her top tips for creating events to remember.


Kelsey always thinks about how to make guests feel welcome. ìGoing to something alone, whether itís a game night or a bunco party, can be intimidating, so as a host you should do your best to give people opportunities to connect,î Kelsey says. She makes as many introductions as possible at the beginning of the party to get awkwardness out of the way so everyone can start chatting more comfortably. 


Donít forget about all the practical prep tasks like getting good background music going, having great food and drinks out, and adjusting the room layout to feel open and inclusive. ìI also love incorporating scent into any event with candles and diffusers,î Kelsey says. 


We live in Utah, which means non-party planners are planning plenty of parties and functions for the local church congregation. Cue the overwhelm! Kelsey advises taking your planning back to the goal of the event ó connection, teaching, or celebrating. Then, focus on teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. ìIf you feel like you donít know what you are doing, utilize the talents of your team,î Kelsey says. ìGet someone who is good at decorating to head that up, and then find someone who is comfortable bringing food together.î 


The mark of a successful soiree is different for each one. One of Kelseyís favorites was a ìVendor Friendsgivingî for business owners in the wedding industry. ìThe purpose was to emphasize community over competition and we had an hour where we circled through rotations and had vulnerable conversations about areas of our business where we needed help, as well as chatting about where we were doing great,î Kelsey explains. 


Balloon arches have been having their day in the sun for years now and Kelsey still believes they are on the rise. ìI love balloon installs,î Kelsey says. ìThey are an easy way to create a wow moment for guests without taking up a lot of space,î she says. She encourages hosts to find a great balloon artist who can make it look classy and chic. One of her local favorites is Balloon Boyz. Other high-impact decor options include lighting displays, interactive art and experiential food moments, like finishing a dish table-side, whether itís freshly mixed guacamole or torching the creme br˚lÈe.


Whether itís just a few friends for dinner or a wedding with 300 guests, favors tie it all up with a bow. Some of Kelseyís favorites have been custom watercolor paintings, potted succulents and personalized olive oil bottles.