Even though parties are tons of fun, planning one can get a little stressful. If you plan to host a party for your friends, the list of things you have to do might seem overwhelming. After all, it’s up to you to decide what kind of party to throw, who to invite, how to decorate, and how to make sure your guests love the food, music, and activities you got planned.
To help make planning a party not only less stressful but actually fun, here’s a guide from Sophistiplate on all the major steps of party planning. Follow these 10 tips and throw the perfect party that your friends won’t forget.
1. Choose a Theme
Picking a theme for your event is an important first step that will guide (almost) everything that you do.
If your party falls on a special holiday, then a theme is especially a must. Luckily, there are tons of well-known themes for parties to celebrate Halloween, New Year’s, Fourth of July, and other major holidays.
But if your party is a more personal celebration, then think about the things you love and build your theme around that. This could be jazz music, a TV series, or even the color red.
2. Set Your Budget
There are two ways to plan your party budget: set the maximum amount you are willing to spend before you start planning or set a budget as you go along.
If you decide to go with the first option, then you might not be as flexible with spending more on certain parts of the party. On the bright side, you will sleep well knowing that you aren’t spending more than you’re comfortable with.
If you decide to shop around for a venue, food, beverage, and entertainment options, it’s possible to not spend more than you feel good spending. One trick is to pick what you want to be the focus of your party. Do you want your guests to be stunned by the decor, to have the best meal of their lives, or to dance the night away?
Once you decide which aspect of your party is most important, allow yourself to splurge on it, while setting a strict budget for the rest of your event.
3. Pick a Date and Time
Picking the right date will help to maximize how many guests show up to your party.
If your party is celebrating a major holiday, then picking a date that falls near that holiday is your best bet for making sure your friends are free to come. But sometimes, high costs and personal obligations make it hard to pick such a day.
In this case, you can have a holiday party a few days before the actual holiday. As an added bonus, you will save a good amount of dough on the venue (and probably have more places to pick from, too).
If your party isn’t celebrating a holiday, then you have to decide between a weekend and a weekday. While more guests will be free to attend a weekend party, you might have some competition when picking an event venue and will probably pay a little more for it, as well. A weekday party is definitely the more economical option but might conflict with your friends’ work schedules.
One last thing to consider is the time of your party. Do you want it to be a casual afternoon affair, an elegant evening dinner, or an all-night bash? Asking yourself these questions will ensure that your party theme fits in with the time it starts (and ends).
4. Pick a Venue
Picking a place to host your party is truly an exercise in creativity. Thankfully, once you know your party theme, you can begin to narrow down your options. Of course, throwing a party in your home is the most economical option. But if the thought of renting a unique venue excites you, then there are options for all tastes and budgets.
Some of the spaces that are perfect for hosting an event include the obvious venues, like restaurants, bars, banquet halls, and even rooftop terraces. But if you want to get more creative, then spaces such as national parks, botanical gardens, warehouses, museums, and farms (and many, many more) are all amazing options.
Some things to guide your decision include the total capacity of the venue, transportation options, and the services and amenities available to party hosts.
5. Make a Guest List
Party experts stress that who you invite to the party is probably the most important part of making it successful.
Begin by making a list of your friends, family, and co-workers who are important to you. After that, think of anyone you want to get to know better or want to meet.
We all know that inviting someone to your party is the perfect way to make them feel validated. Unfortunately, the opposite can be true, as well. It’s normal for some people to feel offended to not get an invite to your party.
But to make sure your party is successful, you need to create the perfect balance of people who are outgoing, entertaining, and helpful. So, if there are some people who you think will be downers, then don’t feel that you have an obligation to invite them.
6. Send Out Creative Invites
It’s completely up to you whether you want to make an announcement on social media, text your guests, or send out paper invitations.
It’s much easier to keep track of your RSVPs with online invitations. But on the downside, if you’re trying to keep your party a more intimate affair, then making a public announcement that excludes some people may result in hurt feelings.
In this case, it’s a much better idea to send out personalized invitations, be they in paper or digital format. Your guests will appreciate the extra thought that went into inviting them.
7. Create a Menu
Even if you’re not throwing an elaborate dinner party, food is an important part of any event. Once you decide on your party theme, think about what kind of food and beverages you will be serving.
There are several options for this:
- Go all-out with a cocktail hour, hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, main courses, and dessert.
- Let your guests have it all with a family-style buffet spread.
- Keep it simple with an assortment of tapas.
- Make boozy drinks the main focus by serving salty snacks like chips, pretzels, and cold cuts on the side.
Whichever option you choose to go with, keep things elegant with the right dining ware. Don’t be afraid to use disposable plates and cutlery to keep things simple for yourself. Bonus points for choosing the ones that go with your party’s theme.
8. Party Rentals
If your party is an elaborate affair, then it’s more likely than not that you’ll need to rent certain things.
If you’re throwing an outdoor party, then tables and chairs are a must. Unfortunately, not all venues provide them. The easiest thing you can do is hire a rental company to deliver needed items the day of your event and to take them away after it’s over, taking one more thing off your plate.
However, that’s not all you can rent. If you plan to have a full bar at your party, that’s something available for renting. Dancing or live entertainment? Rent a dance floor. Other items include tents and canopies for inclement weather, food warmers for buffet-style spreads, unique lighting, and even some decorations.
9. Buy the Decorations
While it’s certainly possible to rent your decor, there are some things that you might want to invest in, especially if you’re a frequent host of parties. Decorations such as floral garlands, string lights, and yard displays are all classics that can be reused for years to come.
10. Plan the Music
No party is complete without the right music. What kind of music you choose to go with depends completely on your budget and party theme.
For more casual affairs, your guests will appreciate a curated playlist that goes with the party’s theme. If you’re throwing a dinner party, for example, then a playlist composed of mellow guitar and jazz sounds will set the scene perfectly. For parties involving dancing, music such as hip-hop and house are a must.
If your budget allows for it, you can consider hiring live music. You can hire a jazz singer, a rock band, or even a DJ to play anything that your guests request.
Make It a Memorable Night
Throwing the party is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have. We know that a lot of thought, effort, and money goes into throwing a party. You want to pick the perfect theme, make the space look awesome, invite fun guests, and serve food that will please your guests.
For the best dinner and serving ware, Sophistiplate has your back. And as for the rest of your party, we hope that this guide will help you plan the perfect party that your friends won’t forget.