How to Throw a Party

Everything you need to know about hosting a party in West Chester

I love the idea of throwing a party – the mental image of all my closest friends and family, neighbors, mingling and laughing. The execution, well that’s another story. So many moving pieces and it’s not always easy to find the help (or space you need).

Apparently I’m not the only one with these pressing concerns, several posts recently popped up on Nextdoor.com, the neighborhood-based social network, with similar requests. So I’ve culled their advice along with my own experiences and put together a starter guide to partying in West Chester.

Venue

Party venue ideas in West Chester, PA
Happy hour at the Chester County Historical Society

Finding a venue to host your event in West Chester shouldn’t be a problem – especially if you know where to look.

We’ve successfully thrown three parties in West Chester. The first was our wedding, the second was my son’s 1st birthday and the last was my husband’s 40th – and each at a different, but highly-recommended West Chester venue.

West Chester Restaurants –

We hosted my husband’s 40th at Teca. They had a nice upstairs space we had to ourselves. The event price included finger-foods and an open bar. It was a pretty standard birthday affair and the first stop on a crawl through town, but the staff was courteous and we were able to set up some decorations and bring in a cake. Recommendations from a Nextdoor post also included Restaurant 51, Fellini’s (BYOB), Sprout Music and Barnaby’s – but I’m sure most restaurants downtown have space available.

My suggestion: if there’s a particular place you like give them a call and see if they can accommodate your event.

Just note a lot of the restaurants are housed in narrow lots so you’ll want to be cognizant of space. You’ll also want to think about parking especially if a lot of your guests are from outside the area.

Elks Lodge West Chester, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester Country Club, Chaddsford Winery –

If you have a large party or a more formal event, you may want to consider one of these event spaces. My husband and I got married at the Chester County Historical Society and we loved it – cocktail hour on the patio, even included private entrance to the museum for guests. I’ve also heard good things about the people at the Elks Lodge and doesn’t an evening at Chaddsford Winery sound nice?

Just note these venues may have in-house or preferred caterers, staff and other services they use.

At the park (Hoopes, Everhart, Marshall Square)–

We live nearby Everhart park and I’ve seen everything from a cookout to a full on wedding ceremony take place in that park. The location is spacious, the atmosphere gorgeous and the rate reasonable ($75 for a weekend event if you are a resident; $125 if you are not; free but no bathroom access out of season).

We hosted my son’s first birthday party in the park. It was a perfect location for the casual event plus there was easy access to playground equipment for bored older cousins. We also attended a party in Marshall Square Park that made excellent use of the gazebo to set up the food and serve as a gathering point for the party.

Just be aware, while event reservations are limited and available on a first come-first serve basis, you don’t retain exclusivity to the park. Prepare to share the equipment with neighborhood kids and to patiently wait while dogs and their owners exit the frame of your wedding photos.

To reserve the park for your event (over 25 people) you will need to complete Park Rental Reservation form

One last but very important note on reserving park space: Renters must provide their own toiletries for the bathrooms – this includes soap and toilet paper.

Refreshments

Food truck option in West Chester
Gemelli Gelato food truck. Image Gemelli Instagram

Your food needs will likely depend on your event location. Some of those listed above require you to use their food or caters while others (the parks) provide nothing at all. Of course, your home may be the perfect location in which case you may also want to take a look at the refreshment list.

Local catering –

Like when it comes to venue, local restaurants are also on their game when it comes to catering. If you like Italian – Limoncello’s and Carlinos are a good place to start. For Mexican try – Flavours of Mexico. There fajita options sound delicious. American? Classic Diner and Market Street Grill both offer a full catering menu. Or you could just order pizza and salad and call it a day.

Food trucks –

Another fun new alternative to traditional catering is to rent a food truck for your event. They handle the prep and service and guests can select from a set menu.

Saloon 151, Suburban Food Service, and Purple Picnic People are all local trucks that come recommended from you neighbors on Nextdoor.

Or what about a dessert truck as a fun way to cap off your event? Dia dolce has a cupcake truck you can rent and Gemelli, a gelato truck.

Gotta have cake —

Where do you go for local fresh-baked cake options? The aforementioned Dia Dolce is always good but can be a bit pricey for a large event.  If you are looking for a more affordable option, Yori’s Church Street bakery offers a variety of cake flavors and fillings from classic chocolate and vanilla to lemon, almond and red velvet. We’ve used them to create a ½ baptism, ½ birthday cake (hey, sometimes you improvise).  Traditional writing and decorations are included and according to their website, they now deliver.

And if you are looking for a fancy, Cake Boss-type experience check out the Master’s Baker. I have not tried the cake from this family-owned bakery, but the designs on their website are pretty impressive.

Rentals

Party rental options in West Chester, PA
Table setting from our wedding.

Sometimes your party needs extras – extra tables, chairs, plates, glasses, flatware, tents, heaters – a dance floor? Sometimes these things come together. When we were planning our wedding we selected the location. Then they connected us with their preferred caterer who in turn put us in touch with their preferred rental company. I can’t remember who they were, but I had no complaints. But if your event is a little smaller or you are trying to keep the costs down you may want to make the arrangements yourself.

Where’s the best place to go for such an eclectic assortment of requests? According to a recent post on Nextdoor, Taylor Rental in Malvern.

You can browse online or stop in and visit their event showroom – just down from the Rte. 29/Rte. 30 intersection—to speak with a specialist and request a demo.

Looking for other options? One Stop Party Shop, Party Center, Tents for Rent in Lancaster, and Party Tyme were all honorable mentions.

Despite all the planning and stress that sometimes goes into them, parties are (almost always) worth it. Taking the time to bring a little local flavor in only makes them that much more special.

Have you thrown a party in West Chester? What’s your advice?

Plus, ideas for when you’re the guest at the party.

 

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