There used to be a time when it seemed like life was one long party after another. I guess it can seem like that when you live in a joint family– grandma, uncles, aunts, my mom and I, and constantly visiting cousins and house guests almost the year around. People would simply land up and blend in. Sometimes 20 of us would sit down to a meal and of course, my grandma would ensure there was a three-course menu with dessert.
I wonder how they managed and don’t ever remember hearing them complain especially since those were the days when we didn’t even have cooking gas or a refrigerator and other kitchen appliances to make life easier. Also, people loved coming back. Even today, during family events, they enjoy talking about my grandma’s and mom’s generosity and hospitality.
Today things are different. Life is different. When we want to plan a get together, we get into a tizzy. It might look like throwing a party is an easy task. Tell your friends when to come, buy some food, get the beverages, and everyone will entertain themselves, right?
To throw the perfect party that everyone will be raving about until the next one, there is plenty of planning to do ahead of time. After a recent experience, I’ve put together a quick guide to get you started on planning a fabulous party – applies to most occasions.
Five tips to plan the perfect party
1. Pick a Theme
Whether it’s a birthday or some random excuse to have all your friends over, make the occasion unforgettable by choosing a fun theme for your party. There are literally endless themes to choose from, but you’ll want to make sure whatever you choose is appropriate.
Some themes are more versatile than others, like a Lego Party. This theme is great for a kid’s party and even to satisfy the nostalgic side of your adult friends. How many people have you meet that have never enjoyed playing with Legos at any point in their life? They’re cheap to buy in bulk and have available at tables for guests to assemble, and the colors they come in make it really easy to mix and match colors for decorations. See? Win-win!
2. Send a Personal Invitation
Obviously, right? Whether it’s Facebook or an Evite, make your guests feel special by sending an invitation. This not only helps them know the theme of the party and what to expect, but it can help you keep track of RSVPs and answer any questions from your guests.
A quick checklist of what to include in your invitation:
- Date, time, and location
- Party theme
- Any activities you have planned
- Dress code, if any
- If children are welcome (if you’re having adult friends over)
- What food will be available/served
- Your gift policy
Depending on the type of party, you’ll want to let guests know the gift situation in case someone thinks they need to bring one. Most guests invited to any type of shower or birthday party will likely assume they should bring a gift unless otherwise indicated on the invitation. We usually request them to make a donation to a charity of their choice in lieu of carrying a gift for us.
3. Plan the Menu
Of course, it is always exciting to try new recipes, but I’ve learned it the hard way that a party is not the time to try one out for the first time. You’ll learn a lot from having a run-through with the new recipe before the day of your party. The worst thing that could happen is you make it and decide not to serve it to your guests that day. Why add to the stress?
Also, have some idea of what you’ll serve. Consider the time of your party and what meal that will coincide with. If your party is later in the evening, you might want to offer some things to eat that are more substantial in case your guests didn’t get a chance to eat dinner. Grilling hamburgers, setting up a stall that serves freshly made food, or having a taco bar are simple set ups that allow your guests to customize their meal.
If you’ve decided to host a potluck, let guests know what you plan to provide and ask them to let you know what they’ll be bringing. This will help you avoid any repeat items brought by multiple guests. It might be fine for two people to bring chips and dip, but if five do, that’s a bit of an overkill.
4. Meet Your Guests at the Door
This is so important. On party day, it is natural to be rushing around trying to ensure everything is going well. Have everything in order before the start time on your invitation so you can be prepared to greet your first guest. The first impression your guests have when they arrive can make or break their mood at your party.
If the party is in your backyard or there is loud music playing, have a sign prepared on the door in place of you physically meeting them. You can have a warm, welcoming message that instructs guests where to go when they arrive.
For guests who might not know anyone, have someone in mind you can introduce them to, so they’ll feel more at ease amongst a sea of strangers. Explain what the two have in common before you excuse yourself to your next party host task.
5. Provide Options
It’s essential to have a variety of options for guests to choose from to stay entertained at your party. These options include beverages, food, and activities.
If you are wondering why options are important, consider this. Let’s say you’re throwing a pool party, but you know some friends aren’t fans of swimming. You can have some lawn games set up or something playing on your television to entertain those guests who don’t want to jump in the pool.
You’ll also want to be sensitive with food and beverage choices in case you have guests who have dietary restrictions, food allergies, or follow a particular diet. You don’t need to cater to every need, and knowing your friend group will help determine your party menu.
Overall, the best-kept secret to having a fabulous party is in the details. Perfect parties are not simply thrown together. There’s plenty of party checklists that can help you keep track of pretty much everything you need to host a perfect party your guests will remember.
What’s your favorite tip?
Got a tip to share? Would love to hear it in the comments!