On any given day, 2.1 percent of the American population, that’s 6,867,000 people, are engaged in planning or hosting a social event.
Who doesn’t love a good party?
While the formality hosting a party has changed over the decades, and we’ve succumbed to casual, last-minute social gatherings, it shouldn’t stop you from putting in the time and effort to host something beyond the “usual” hangout.
Whether you’re hosting a house warming, holiday, birthday, or “just because” event, follow the party planning tips below for a memorable event everyone will be talking about for years to come.
1. Start Planning Early
The more prepared you are for an event, the more you’ll be able to enjoy it when it comes. Send out invitations at least six weeks in advance for a formal gathering, and at least two weeks in advance of a casual get-together.
This means that planning should start at least one week prior to invitations being sent out. This includes Facebook invitations.
Ideally, you’ll have everything planned out, from the theme to menu prior to the invitations being sent out. That way you can include any details like the theme and food and drink offers in the invitation.
You’ll also want to establish a budget right away. Think about how much you can realistically spend. Establishing this first will ensure that you don’t make any promises you can’t keep.
Planning in advance also ensures that the process is as stress-free as possible. You don’t want to be up all night the day before the party making food and decorating.
You’ll want to consider what can be done in advance like shopping, food preparation, cleaning etc.
2. Stay Organized with a Party Planning Tips Checklist
Once you’ve figured out your budget, and have a general plan for food and decorations, you’ll want to make a checklist.
Include everything. If you’re cooking the food, plan out how long everything will take to make. Figure out what can be made in advance, and when you will need to go shopping.
If you’re catering, figure out when you need to place the order, and when you can have it delivered to ensure it arrives on time, and the food is fresh.
Create a master checklist for every aspect of your party, then break it down by creating a week-by-week to-do list for the weeks, and days leading up to the party.
If you’re a visual person, writing things out in an actual calendar or planner can be helpful.
Understand that the checklist may change throughout the weeks leading up to the event, and that’s OK. Just religiously check, complete and update your list to avoid any unnecessary last-minute stress.
3. Choose A Theme
A theme is one of the features that really make an event stand apart from just any other social gathering.
A theme also creates another level of entertainment for guests.
From looking at how everyone is dressed and snapping photos, to creative forms of entertainment that align with the theme like a pinata for Cinco de Mayo, or a gingerbread house making station for a holiday party.
Themes also communicate what guests can expect from the get-together from the invitation. They have the ability to transform a regular space into something unique and exciting.
Think outside the box when creating a theme. Think of your guests and what they would enjoy participating in.
4. Keep Guests Entertained
This can often go overlooked by many hosts but is essential to keeping the energy and social interactions flowing at a party. Having at least one game or activity for guests to optionally participate in is a great way to keep attendees engaged with one another.
This is especially true for events where a lot of different people will be coming together.
It can be as simple as having a game of cornhole set-up in the backyard, or a station with miniature pumpkins, sharpies, and stickers for decorating for a fall or Halloween party.
Again, think outside the box and think about what your guests would enjoy.
Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. While everyone loves a photo booth, you can easily set-up your own Polaroid station for a fraction of the price.
It’s important to note that while you can offer activities like scavenger hunts, caroling, or karaoke, activities can be non-scheduled and available throughout the night for anyone to partake in.
If you can’t afford a band or live music, make sure your playlist is selected carefully. You’ll want songs that are full of energy and aren’t awkward.
If there will be children, accommodate them by having a kids table with crafts and other forms of entertainment.
You can easily make your take-home gift also a form of entertainment. You can have a candy table where guests can fill their own bags, a flower station where guests can make their own headpieces, and so much more.
5. Keep Food and Table Settings Simple
It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to food and drinks for a party. But you’ll thank yourself later for sticking to a set, simple menu.
Remember that as much as you might want to make everything from scratch, there is no obligation to do so. If you’re cooking everything yourself, choose a few items that you can buy ready-made, so that there’s one less thing for you to make.
For example, a charcuterie table is something unique that will have options for everyone and requires no cooking. But it can also be set-up to be eye-catching and isn’t boring like offering chips and dip.
Obviously, the way to make food the easiest way possible is to enlist the help of a caterer or to have everything ordered.
However, this can be expensive. If you do go this route, be sure to take everything out of the cheap plastic it’s delivered in and opt for higher-end single-use tableware like these fine products, or using your own serving dishes and silverware.
If you don’t already own bowls and silverware for serving, purchasing these can be very expensive, and a bit annoying to have to clean up after the event.
A self-serve bar is the most inexpensive and stress-free way to serve alcohol.
When it comes to drinks and alcohol, offer one specialty cocktail that can be made in served in large batches, so guests can pour it themselves. In addition to a few basics like champagne, beer, and wine.
Getting Ready for Your Party
Following party planning tips above, will guarantee that your next party will be a huge success. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of friends, family, and professionals to delegate some of the work.
For decorating tips, check out some of the DIY and other decor tips throughout our blog!