Let’s Party!

Whether it’s a small gathering of friends or a family reunion, birthday, gender reveal, wedding or going away party, we’ve all been in this situation before.   We want to throw a party, but where do we start?  How do we create an unforgettable experience and keep within the budget?  On the other side of that, what makes a good guest?  We get expert advice from Becky Coscia, Owner of Venue 650 to get some tips on larger events.   We take a look back at our Best of Haven Award winners for the best local businesses to use.  However in the end, it’s all about having fun, celebrating and living in the moment with people you enjoy most.  


For the Perfect Party: 

Start planning early. Pick a theme and send out invites four to six weeks before a formal event or two to three weeks before a casual gathering.  

Create a budget and follow it. Figure out how much you can spend and set a limit on food, drinks, entertainment, and other party essentials. If hiring a caterer is out of the budget, head to Publix and create your own cheese board.  Pick up fresh breads, desserts or dips at the farmers market.  Think local when purchasing drinks, too. Local breweries offer growlers and crowlers to have on hand.  Having local brands at your party can make it feel even more special.  

Make a checklist. Write down everything you need to do.  Check it off as you go, you don’t want to forget anything and panic just before your guests arrive.  

Enlist help. I admit, this is hard for me but I know it’s necessary.  When someone offers to help, and you need it, say yes!  Having a party is a little stressful so do yourself a favor and accept the help!  Don’t be a hero, people.

Serve one specialty cocktail. Select one drink you can make in a pitcher and then stock up on plenty of local beer and wine.  You can even name your cocktail something that relates to your party, or a person that you’re celebrating.  

Create a playlist. Music is essential at a party, and if your budget doesn’t permit a DJ, make a playlist from your own music collection.  Music sets the tone, so think about it before you commit.

Do as much as you can beforehand. Whether it’s decorating, setting the table, or preparing foods, don’t procrastinate.  Well, easier said than done.  Try your best not to procrastinate.  Decorate early, make sure you have everything you need or at least a list of what you need.  The goal is to have fun at your party!  Try to do what you can now so you will enjoy yourself later.  


How to be a good guest:

DO RSVP.  Don’t be a jerk!  Someone invited you over, please tell them if you’re going to be there so they know how many party supplies to buy.  

DON’T show up empty-handed.  Bring something besides yourself to the party. A bottle of wine or flowers is a sweet and simple gesture to show your thanks.

DO dress to impress.  Whether your host wants you to show up in costume or a suit and tie, follow the dress code — even if it means forgoing your favorite pair of jeans.

DO arrive fashionably late.  Showing up right on time, or worse yet, early, is a no-no (unless you’ve been asked to bring something or help set up).  Aim to get there 15 minutes after the official start time.  

DO ditch your phone.  Live in the moment and remember why you’re there — to enjoy the company of your friends, not check Instagram on the couch.

DON’T get sloshed.  Keep it classy and drink in moderation. If you’re expecting your evening to involve shots of Jagermeister, recruit a DD prior to the party.

DO thank your host.  Don’t ghost, thank your host.  It’s always nice to text, email call within a few days of the party to thank them for having you over.  

DON’T overstay your welcome.   If you haven’t left when the host starts dropping hints like clearing the dishes, putting away the alcohol or loudly announcing what time it is, then you’ve overstayed your welcome and please leave immediately.  

Let’s Party!

Here are the 2019 Haven “Best Of” Award Winners for Winter Haven.  Our readers voted for these and they will come in very handy when throwing a party or event.  



Blackburn’s BBQ

169 5th St. Eagle Lake




Gourmet Goodies Bake Shop

68 4th St. NW, Winter Haven




Honey on the Double

Grove Roots Brewing Co.

302 3rd St. SW, Winter Haven




Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards

19239 US-27, Clermont




Courtyard by Marriott Winter Haven

6225 Cypress Gardens Blvd. SE, Winter Haven




Lasater Flowers

253 W Central Ave., Winter Haven




Venue 650

650 6th St. SW, Winter Haven



And if things get out of hand…



Bond Clinic Urgent Care

325 1st St. N, Winter Haven

863-293-1191 x 3693

Let’s Party!

We asked Becky Coscia, Owner of Venue 650 in Winter Haven for some expert advice on hosting larger events.  


Q:   At what point is it beneficial to hire a party planner for a special event? Is that based on party size or how elaborate it will be?


A:  I always encourage a planner and should look into hiring someone you are compatible with, the time to hire would be as soon as possible.


Q:  How early should I start planning and booking vendors?


A:  Rule of thumb is to choose the venue and then start selecting vendors very soon afterward.


Q:  What are the key things you should look for when selecting a venue for your event?  


A:  My advice to select a venue would be, can you see your event in this space, does it fit my budget and do I believe customer service will be paramount.


Q:  When we set an event budget, what items should I include? How can I ensure I stay on budget, especially when working with a planner?  


A:  Staying in budget will definitely be a challenge and there will be unexpected expenses especially as you draw close to the event. Items to include; venue, catering, decorations, photographer, videographer, DJ/band, planner, florist, stationery and it is always a good idea to include additional help. I believe the best way to stay in budget with a planner would be to have clear communication and always have a written agreement.


Q:  Tell us about Venue 650.


A:  Venue 650 is quite versatile to include weddings, ceremonies, prom, engagement parties, fundraising events and so much more. We love that we are centrally located and very accessible. Our design could be described as industrial chic but the main attraction would seem to be the private garden.


Venue 650

650 6th St SW, Winter Haven, FL 33880

(863) 287-3814



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