Throw a Do-It-Yourself Party!

You're Invited to A Party. Bring Your Power Drill!

Is there a do-it-yourself project you are dying to do but you can't, well, do it yourself? If the size of your project has you looking in the Yellow Pages for a contractor, stop a moment. Maybe the right call isn't to a contractor but to your friends. You know you're all always looking for a reason to get together, so why not throw a do-it-yourself party?

It may sound crazy, but you'd be surprised how many people you can convince to help you if you are a good host. The key is making the project seem like fun and less like a giant chore. This is a perfect opportunity to get everyone together, show off your Jane skills, and get something accomplished at the same time. Hey, we've all been to dozens of birthday, holiday and housewarming parties; this is a chance to be truly original!

Send out Invitations

To make the event more official send out invitations. A quick e-mail invite always works but consider the lost art of putting ink to paper. An hour or two on the computer can produce cute, detailed invites complete with icons specific to your project, such as paintbrushes, drills, hammers and more. Get those creative juices flowing and pick a fun title for your gala. Penny's Painting Party! sounds better than Help Me Paint My Living Room. Also, let your guests know what they should wear on the invitation. You don't want anyone ruining their favorite pair of jeans.

Don't gloss over what needs to be done. Be very clear in the invite that you are installing drywall or new flooring. Check out to determine the estimated time of your project and print it on the invitation. Letting people know exactly what they are in for will keep resentment from building when you are entering the fifth hour of light fixture-replacement. And by the way: use your friends' help wisely. Otherwise, they'll never help you again.

Be Prepared

Before your friends arrive buy all the materials you need for the project and have them unpacked and ready to go. No one wants to run errands with you or for you. If you are completing a project with a lot of prep work, such as painting, do as much of it yourself as possible. Your helpers will appreciate it.

Have a Plan, but Have Fun

Before the doorbell starts ringing read all instructions thoroughly. You want to know exactly what you are doing so you can direct others. Give a simple rundown when everyone is gathered. Having everyone read how to install the ceiling fan and weighing in on how to do it wastes time. Print out instructions for everyone though, just so everyone is in the know.

Encourage your guests to each bring a favorite CD to rock out to. Sharing music is a fun way to get to know each other better. Plus, a few tunes always seem to make a chore go by a little faster.

Also, if your project isn't going exactly as planned, keep cool. Don't let your temper or emotions get the best of you. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.

Feed Your Guests

If your friends are going to help than the least can you do is feed them and always provide plenty of water and soft drinks. Have snacks already prepared and ready to go or get food delivered so that there is no time wasted and virtually no cleanup.

Also, encourage your guests to take frequent breaks when they need to and to never overexert themselves. As we all know, sometimes this stuff is hard work.

Success! The party (and your project) is complete!

After you finish the work plan for an hour of downtime so that you can all relax together. Some guests may need to leave but you will most likely have one or two who friends want to bask in the joy of your finished project with you. Have dessert or a bottle of wine on hand so you can celebrate. And if your project isn't 100% complete, don't panic. You probably got the hard stuff out of the way.

The After Party

Definitely send your friends a thank you for all of their hard work. Again, an e-mail will usually suffice but a handwritten card is much more personal. If you took pictures, throw a couple in with your note. Since you have the camera handy, take 'before' and 'after' shots and email them to!

The most important thing is that your guests feel appreciated, so let them know you couldn't have done it without them. Also, remind them that you are more than willing to return the favor. Chances are you probably inspired a few people to take on projects of their own, so don't be surprised when you get an invitation of your own!

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