This past weekend, I took my mom to New Orleans to celebrate her birthday. She had never been before, and heard me rave about the few times I had been this year. My mom is the best chef I know, and I knew she would love the city that is known for their cuisine.
I wanted to include her close friends, since my mom’s never really had an “adult” birthday party before. New Orleans is such a great city and I knew people would be interested in going. I had originally planned for four of my mom’s closest friends, and watched the invite list grow to about 25 people! I admit, I was furious. If you haven’t traveled with more than five people in a group, I don’t recommend it. You automatically become the travel agent. Everyone goes to you for questions. It’s hard to make reservations for that many people, and then trying to figure out how to split the check becomes a nightmare. I didn’t want to be responsible for making sure everyone has a good time and has things to do. It’s a role that I really didn’t want to have, that was forced upon me. So I had to deal with it.
I set up in e-vite, so that I could try to get a gauge on how many people to account for. I used Paperless for the invitations. It’s extremely user-friendly. They make importing the guest list easy, as well as sending out the invites. Just beware of the small hidden fees. Certain templates are free, while others cost a certain amount. Nothing crazy, but if you want to do it up nice, it’ll cost you a bit. You can also schedule reminders to guests that haven’t rsvp’d. Great for hosting parties or large events.
I did some research and looked at hotels, for everyone to stay at. It’s easier to have everyone be at one location. However, because of the Saints/Cowboys game and several other conventions in town, the rates were pretty steep. I knew some people would have an issue with the cost. So I made sure to let everyone know that this is their vacation too. So if they need to stay somewhere else that was more in their price range, then by all means, do so. That way everyone is happy.
I went to my favorite tour website, Viator, to see what kind of fun things we could do. Like I said previously, I’ve been to New Orleans four times already, but it was all work related, and I didn’t get a chance to explore much. So I found some fun tours, like the Cocktail Walking Tour and the Food Walking Tour. Both tours were relatively inexpensive.
I researched some restaurants that I thought people might enjoy. I picked places and I had and had not been too. I used this to somewhat create an itinerary. Sometimes people just need to be told where and when to be. I kept it open so that people could do some things that they wanted to do. More like suggestions for them. It worked out well!
I was worried about how many people were going to show up, and it only ended up being about 10 people. Half the group stayed at the suggested hotel. Others stayed nearby. Some did the tours and others did not.
The restaurants were a total hit! Check out My Favorite Places to Eat in NOLA for tips! We hit up Bourbon street and stayed out to the wee hours of the morning and had a great time! My mom drank test tube shots, had dollar bills pinned to her shirt (NOLA tradition) and even tossed some beads from the balconies.
It was an overall success and I stressed myself out for nothing, per usual! If you have never been to New Orleans, I highly recommend spending a weekend in this amazing city. Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, but that didn’t keep them down. New Orleans is better than ever. The people, the culture, the food, the architecture is unlike any city you will ever go to in the States. You’re guaranteed to walk away with a smile on your face!