10 Tips for planning (..and enjoying) the perfect eclipse party
The total solar eclipse aka The Great American Eclipse will take place on Monday, August 21, 2017. It has been 99 years since the United States experienced a coast to coast solar eclipse. There’s no better reason to celebrate than this once in a lifetime experience. While there are a number of places you can go to view the eclipse, your home, especially if you have a nice patio or outdoor seating, is an ideal viewing location.
Before we get to the party planning part, it’s a good idea to review some solar eclipse basics:
What: An eclipse happens when the moon blocks the sun. The path of totality is the 70 mile stretch where the moon will completely block the sun. Vox has a nifty interactive feature where you can find out what you’ll see during the eclipse and when you’ll see it, based on your zip code. It will even tell you how far you’ll need to drive to see the total eclipse.
When: The eclipse will take place on Monday, August 21, 2017. The duration of the eclipse will depend on where you're located. If you're in the Eastern Time Zone, the partial eclipse will start around 12:50 pm and end at 4:02 pm with full totality from 2:25 pm to 2:27 pm. If you're in Nashville, TN (the biggest city in the path of totality), the partial eclipse will start at 11:58 am CDT with full totality from 1:27 pm to 1:29 pm and the partial eclipse after totality ending at 2:54 pm.
Where: If you happen to be within the path of totality, a 70-mile wide path from Oregon to South Carolina, you can see the eclipse in totality, meaning the moon will completely block the sun. Major cities in this path include:
Safety: Enjoy the eclipse safely. You must view the partial phases of the eclipse with special approved eclipse glasses. Looking at the eclipse without the safety glasses can cause serious permanent damage to your eyes. For those in the path of totality, the only safe time to look at the total eclipse is when the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon. There is no safe time to look at the Sun during the partial phase of the eclipse. Also, you shouldn’t try to photograph the eclipse or view it through a telescope without a special filter.
What’s the big deal? Total eclipses happen about every 18 months, but they’re typically not easily visible. The August 21st eclipse will be visible across the continental United States and most people are within a 1-2 day drive to the path of totality. This will be the first total solar eclipse to occur across the continental United States since 1979. Many people who have experienced a total solar eclipse describe the experience as life-changing.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to party planning. Here are 10 tips for planning a fun and stress-free solar eclipse party.
Tip #1: KISS - Keep It Super Simple.
This is not the time for fancy complicated party planning. You don’t want to spend tons of time on party prep. The key is to keep it simple and opt for easy dishes that can be enjoyed without much preparation. Your ultimate goal is to relax and enjoy the experience with your guests. Use this handy party planning worksheet to organize your party details.
Tip #2: Be safe.
It’s important to have the proper viewing glasses and if you’re planning to take photos, be sure to get the appropriate lens and filter. The glare from the eclipse can cause serious damage to your eyes as well as to your photo equipment. If you’re considering taking photos, experts strongly suggest resisting the urge to take photos and experience the eclipse by just being fully present in the moment. NASA has a list of reputable vendors for viewing goggles and filters.
Order more goggles than you think you’ll need. They are good keepsakes for your guests.
Tip #3: Plan ahead.
Purchase as many items as possible ahead of time. This is not the time to wait until the day of your party to go shopping. Also, consider having items delivered days in advance.
Tip 4#: Make sure your guests are informed.
Use online invitations to invite your guests and include regular event information as well as eclipse-specific information:
Tip #5: Consider a catering package or delivery from your favorite restaurant.
Look to your local restaurants for catering packages that you can pick up the day before or have delivered. If you have something delivered, consider having it delivered the day before. It should keep for 24 hours and it will be one less thing to worry about on the day of the party. Good options include one of Maggianos Delivery Packages for about $20 per person and it includes rolls, salad, pasta, entrée and mini desserts. Jason’s Deli also has a VIP Meeting Package that includes a sandwich tray, fruit tray, salad, dessert tray, chips or baked chips, and pickles for about $14 per person.
Tip#6: If you’re going the DIY route, go for easy to prepare finger foods and snacks.
A good menu might include:
Tip #7: It’s the perfect time to go with BUBBLES!
Any bottle of Prosecco, Champagne or Cava will do nicely. For a special treat, try Frey Vineyards’ Totality Organic Sparkling Wine, which is part of a limited release in celebration of the 2017 Great American Eclipse. For an alcohol-free beverage, go with sparkling apple juice. Martinelli’s make a variety of delicious sparkling juice options.
Tip #8: Don’t forget something sweet.
Do yourself a favor and have your sweet treats delivered. Some of my favorites are:
Tip #9: Give your guests something to remember the experience.
It’s always nice when your guests leave your event with gifts in hand. The following are fun and festive gifts options:
Tip #10: Provide your guests with fun activities.
While observing the eclipse will give your guests plenty to do, it’s a good idea to have a few activities to entertain your guests and encourage mingling. These free downloads are fun interactive activities that also educate guests about the eclipse:
Bottom Line - Keep your preparations simple and easy and you’ll be free to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience with your guests.
Happy Great American Eclipse Celebrating!
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