These days, more and more savvy Quinceaneras are hosting their receptions at home or their neighborhood clubhouse instead of an expensive ballroom, and it’s for more reasons than just saving money.
Having your Quince party in your family home makes it all the more memorable because you and your family and friends are creating a lasting memory. It can also make the planning more exciting and inspiring since transforming your home into a dream Quinceanera sets the stage for other celebrations.
Once you figure out what you need to move around to make room for everybody and the different ways you can decorate for something as important as your Quince—think how much more fabulous every birthday party and holiday will be from now on!
To get you started brainstorming, here are the 9 basic things you need to know to plan the best party your family home has ever seen—your Quinceanera!
1. Plan With your Parents
Before you start even one Pinterest board, sit down with your parents and have a serious discussion about two things: the budget and what you can—and can not—do in the house and yard.
The budget will govern every decision you make, starting with your dress and the invitations all the way through the menu, the decorations and the type of entertainment you’ll have.
Your parents also need to be the ones to make the final decision about what goes on in the house and/or in the yard. It’s absolutely crucial to do whatever it takes to protect the furniture and anything precious to your parents. You don’t want to accidentally break a chair or a coffee table, or get indelible stains on the sofa, or bump into your mom’s china cabinet and knock everything loose. And you don’t want a dress with a skirt so wide you can’t get through the doorway!
Even if you feel that they’re being a little overly cautious, honor their wishes. If you let your parents rule on these two points—money and the house—the rest of your planning will be a lot easier.
2. Visualize Your Party Layout
You might be tempted to hire a professional party planner to figure out the best layout for a home Quinceanera, but all it really takes is a good, careful assessment of what your home has to offer and then capitalize on that.
If you want your party inside and have a good-sized basement, then clearing that out for an indoor party may be the best thing. A lot of basement clutter can be put in the garage temporarily. And if your neighborhood has an affordable clubhouse that you can rent for not too much money, you’re pretty much good to go.
If you want to have the party outside, whether in your backyard or on the clubhouse grounds, even if your guest list is small, you’ll want to rent a tent “just in case.” Just like outdoor weddings, outdoor Quinceanera receptions need a backup plan.
You’ll also need to think about where you want to do things. If that basement is big enough, you can have the dances there. If not, you can either skip the dances, do the dances with only your dad and then one or two chambelanes, or rent a dance floor for the yard.
Just figure out what you want the party program to look like and then let that determine both which areas of the house will serve best and how many people you can comfortably fit into that space.
3. Make a Staging Area for the Program
Depending on how you want to handle the traditions that go with a classic Quinceanera—dances, speeches, changing of the shoes, etc.—you’ll need to figure out how much room you’ll need and where these traditions should take place.
Starting with the easiest—the speeches and the shoes—you can do the speech wherever you’re having dinner. To make sure everyone can hear you if you’re eating outside, you might need a sound system. To make a pretty background for the shoes, you can put together a setting that can double for formal portraits. Set up a small area with a pretty backdrop and a lovely chair or small loveseat. For inside, this can be in front of a window with beautiful draperies.
For outside, create a space with a backdrop, some decorations, and at least one chair for you to sit on. You can then use that setup for formal portraits of you with and without your court, group shots, and any pictures your guests want to have. Just do a search for “DIY Photo Booth” and you’ll find plenty of ideas.
Finding room to do the dances and enough floor space for your guests to dance can be trickier depending on the area you have to work with. Again, a nice roomy basement or clubhouse is no problem, and you can rent a dance floor for outside. If your space is limited, though, the easiest thing to do is either limit the size of your court for the group dances or do a little less.
For example, you can keep everything to just a couple of people by combining the waltz with your father-daughter dance and then for your surprise dance, do the bachata with two of your chambelanes.
4. Finalize the Menu
Planning the menu is always fun, and when you do a home Quinceanera, it’s easy to have a fabulous potluck cooked by your mom and all your aunts and friends. You can still hire a caterer if you want to, though, to make it fancier and to take all the pressure off your family members.
If you’re going the potluck route, choose crowd-pleasers that don’t take much time to prepare. Salsa and chips, tacos, burgers, and anything else that your guests can put together themselves will be great. Of course, you’ll want a sweets table and you can still have a fabulous layered Quinceanera cake. You can either order from the bakery, or have one of your relatives make you one of the hottest trends in party cakes: a “Naked Cake.” Then surround it with plenty of cupcakes.
5. Get Crafty With Your Decorations
One of the biggest considerations to transform your home into the magical venue you want it to be for your Quinceanera is camouflage. Especially if you want to decorate your garage for some of the festivities, you won’t want people looking at your garden rake and lawn mower. You also might want to make your unfinished basement look a bit more glamorous.
The easiest—and cheapest—thing to do is to hang inexpensive party supply tablecloths. You can tack them at the ceiling and floor with a staple gun, then rent or invest in some lighting fixtures that will really transform the mood and make everything cozy. Uplights (canister lights that sit on the floor) are fabulous and can be fitted with colored bulbs. Mini lights are always lovely and can be strung just about anywhere. You can also use lots of flameless candles, both indoors and out without worrying about fire hazards.
Dress up your tables with a lovely tablecloth and simple centerpieces of flowers. You can also add just a few balloons in your theme colors. If you don’t have time to make arrangements yourself, you can ask your florist—or have a willing aunt or two work on them as their Quince gift to you!
6. Consider Airflow and Temperature Control
Even if your Quinceanera falls in the winter months, a packed house will usually raise the temperature in an enclosed space. Still air—or just not enough circulating air—also feels warmer, so consider borrowing or renting extra electric fans to move the air around both inside and outside. Y
ou can also have lovely personal fans for guests to cool themselves. Just add a little note on a ribbon with your name and the date, and you couldn’t ask for classier party favors!
7. Figure Out Your Music
The one thing you really need to have for your home Quinceanera is good music. You’ll want music during dinner, for different parts of the program, and for party time. And when you plan your Quince at home, you can have any kind of music you want!
If you have room, you can have a DJ or band, but if not, there’s always your handy iPod. Just rent a small sound system and pipe the music through the speakers.
Any kind of classical music will work, too. If you want a string quartet or a mariachi band, or even an ultra-classy harp, there’s always room for a small live group. And if you have your dinner inside and happen to own a piano, you could pay a local music student to come and play dinner music!
Whichever music you choose, consider the space you have and also keep the neighbors in mind. While your Quinceanera party comes only once in a lifetime, you do want to remember that part of becoming a lady is having good manners. If you want to dance the night away and don’t have that handy clubhouse, ask your parents if you can move everyone to the basement. After all, by this time your older guests are probably ready to cool off and relax with a little peace and quiet in the backyard and leave the wilder partying to the young ones!
8. Don’t Forget the Sound System
As you plan for your Quinceanera, don’t forget to consider renting a sound system. Sure, you might have stereo speakers at home and even a microphone, but that might not be enough to host the program and keep the festive mood going. Consult a local mobile sound provider about their rates and setups for parties. You’ll also probably need a few freestanding speakers so that music flows clearly throughout your home and yard.
8. Splurge on Great Giveaways
Giveaways are the one thing everyone looks forward to when it comes to a Quinceanera, even if it’s held at home. Whatever you decide to offer your guests, make sure to choose something that truly represents you. If you have a bigger budget for gifts—maybe specifically because you saved so much money having your Quince at home—you might even be able to choose something nicer than what you originally planned.
Some celebrants give out miniature bottles of their favorite cologne for the girls and leather key chains for the guys, or something that’s gender neutral like a magnet with your favorite quote.
Even if you DIY your giveaways, you can make them more generous and more lavish. There are so many fabulous ideas out there for great party giveaways that we won’t even try to begin to list them here!
Know This for Sure
No matter how large or how small, how fancy or simple, a Quinceanera celebration at home will always be memorable not just for you but for the rest of your family, too. You’ll have created even more unforgettable memories in a home already filled with love by letting it be the venue for this all-important, once in a lifetime Quinceanera milestone!