Another hockey season is upon us, and YOU are in charge of throwing the team’s season-opening get-together. Not only is the gathering an opportunity for new and existing players to bond and build some camaraderie, but it’s also a chance for the parents to get to know each other better and start the season off on the right foot.
Does the thought of party planning make you break into an ice-cold sweat? Save that for the rink. With these helpful tips from seasoned event planner Marc Smith of Amuse Consulting, your party planning will be smooth skating from here.
Select a theme
Whether it’s a hair-raising wig party or a memorable mad hatter motif, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing the theme of your soiree. No matter in which direction you decide to venture, Smith says it’s important to emphasize the main objective of your shindig — building camaraderie.
For example, if your theme is “come dressed as your favourite hockey player,” he suggests providing both the adults and the players with the tools to paint each other’s faces in their fantasy team’s colours. It may get a little messy, but you’re guaranteed lots of laughter and some fabulous photos.
“Anything that encourages teamwork and interaction amongst guests is key,” says Smith, who has been creating memorable events for the past 15 years, including several fundraisers for sporting events. “Ultimately, your party will set the tone for how the coach, families and players work together for the rest of the year.”
There’s no need to break the bank to create a festive party atmosphere, according to Smith.
“Just head to your local dollar store or party-supply shop to pick up some balloons, napkins, plastic plates and streamers — all in your team’s colours, of course.”
Plan the food
To score winning points with both your adult and child guests, fun should always trump fancy, especially when it comes to planning your menu. Keep in mind that half your guests — likely the players and their siblings — won’t be overly impressed by your regular party fare of goat cheese canapés and duck pâté.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good taste in the name of simplicity, says Smith, who suggests serving nicer versions of the classic food you would find at a hockey game. Examples of classic hockey treats are caramel corn — which you can serve, filled to the brim, in individual metal tins (your local dollar store is likely to have a variety of affordable containers to choose from) — and hot chocolate. And don’t forget to have the whipped cream and chocolate drizzle on hand, too!
A great way to encourage people to mingle, while catering to the tastes of all your guests, is to provide a build-your-own smokie or pizza bar, with a variety of fresh toppings on hand.
And if there is some extra wiggle room in your budget, a snow cone machine is likely to get a lot of cheers from your crowd.
Games & Activities
Team bonding is an essential process that takes time, but you’re guaranteed to see a positive outcome out on the rink. Team-building games and activities are a great way to break the ice and maximize your team’s potential, says Smith, who urges the party-planning host to stay away from any games that are one-on-one.
“I would put in place activities that would have both parents and children working together, making sure that everyone is able to participate.” Examples of games are the three-legged race and the oldie-but-goodie, “pass the egg under your chin.”
A favourite of Smith’s is the name tag hunt. “I like to do name tags for everyone, but when people come in they randomly pull someone else’s name tag and have to mingle with guests to find their name tag. Maybe have your guests write something on the name tag about themselves … it’s really a great way to break the ice.”
Since you’re already in party-planning mode, now is a great time to be thinking of your end-of-the-year bash, advises Smith. “You could always have a trophy for the winner at the first party and let guests know that it will be handed off to the winner at the final party.”
By Kristyl Clark — One Million Skates Lifestyle Writer