No matter the size - whether it be a small dinner party of six or a wedding reception with 100 or more guests – entertaining can be stressful! Kailua-based event planner Natasha Freitas shared some tips for how to how to make a memorable and enjoyable event. She also offered some tips for how to use our abundant natural treasures to make gorgeous but low-cost centerpieces.

wedding table


Celebrations are Called For...

In Hawaiian tradition, there are three major life events that call for celebration, according to Freitas. The first, a baby luau, celebrates a baby’s first birthday. This tradition began hundreds of years ago when missionaries came to Hawaii, bringing with them germs for which the native Hawaiians were unaccustomed. Sadly, that meant, many babies didn’t live to see their first birthday. So, these joyous events were created to celebrate a child surviving his or her first year of life.

The other two milestone celebrations are high school graduation and marriage. Freitas coordinates parties for all of these life events, as well as small intimate gatherings and even more somber occasions such as memorials.

However, we all know that a good celebration can be declared for a good reason or no reason at all!!  Even a quiet dinner for two...

dinner for two

Getting Started...

No matter the type of event, you’ll need to start with some basics, according to Freitas.  That starts with identifying a venue, even if that’s your own home, and creating invitations. From there, create a timeline of how you would like the event to proceed. That timeline often begins with cocktails and pupus, then segues to the meal, dessert and a gathering time at the conclusion.

Once you have created the event timeline, you’ll need to plan where you will obtain your food, whether it be a home cooked meal or a caterer.

“I definitely suggest the host not take on the whole responsibility,” Freitas said. “Also, try not to ask family members or close friends (to prepare food) because you want them to relax, not worry about bringing the cookies to the party!”

From there, create a list of everything you need to purchase and set up for each portion of the event.  For example, for the cocktail hour, you might want to include background music and sitting areas to create conversation. Standing bar tables are particularly popular because it’s hot and people tend to stand and mingle, but they also want a place to put their drink, said Freitas.

Must Haves...

In addition to the list you will create using your timeline as a guide, Freitas suggests every host/hostess fill a large Tupperware container with the following:  duct tape, large clear tape, clear zip ties of multiple sizes, two pairs of scissors, two sharpies, a few regular writing pens, painters tape, and a stack of white towels for the kitchen. Once you have these tools assembled, you won’t need to go search in your home or run to the store to obtain them in the course of planning and setup.

Some of Freitas ideas for using these tools are inventive and surprising.

Clear tape is always useful if you’re trying to hide something, she said. A simple store-bought shelf and duct tape can create a makeshift mini bar. Face the shelf backward, place a white table cloth over the top so that it hangs low and covers the whole shelf, and use duct tape to secure the cloth in the back. The clear zip ties are an excellent way to secure greenery and flowers and create a bouquet.

Please come back next week to read Part II - Wowing Guests on a Budget and Keeping Them Entertained.


Natasha Freitas can be found on Instagram at islandlivinghawaii and on Facebook at Angels of Aloha.

Photos are courtesy of Freitas: An adorned wedding table is simple yet impact, and a fresh flower adorned table for two.