Whether it’s for a birthday, wedding, graduation, or anniversary, everyone loves a good party! This statement might be even more true now, after so many months spent in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attending events like these is always fun but planning one can sometimes be stressful if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing. There are several things to think about, making the process overwhelming. To help you out, this post breaks down the most important factors to take into consideration when planning a party. No matter the occasion, if you cover all of the following points, your event is almost guaranteed to be a success! So, let’s get started.
Before deciding on anything else, you need to know exactly what occasion you’re celebrating. That’s because this will affect almost every other aspect of the party. Most of the time it’s very obvious what the event is for, for example, if it’s a birthday party, house warming party, or a wedding anniversary. On the other hand, sometimes we just want to gather with our friends and have fun!
In that case, it can be helpful to come up with some sort of occasion to guide your party planning. It doesn’t have to be anything big or dramatic; it could be as simple as celebrating your friendship with certain people.
Having a specific reason for your party is also a great way to get your guests more excited about it. So, take some time to think about what you want to celebrate, and then you can move on to the more practical aspects of party planning.
Once you know what you’re celebrating, it’s time to think about who you want to celebrate it with. Remember that if you’re planning a party for someone else, such as a surprise birthday party for a friend, the real question is who they want to celebrate it with.
For most parties, it’s important to have your guest list arranged in advance so that you know how many people you need to cater to and have room for. Begin by thinking about how large you want your event to be.
For instance, are you hoping for a huge dance floor packed with bodies, or a sophisticated dinner party with deep conversations? Certain types of celebration work better with either small or large groups, so plan accordingly.
Another issue to consider is how well different groups of people know and get along with each other. For instance, will your work friends happily socialize with your friends from college, or would you prefer to keep these groups separate? It’s best to work such issues out in advance to avoid any awkward moments on the night!
The theme is a genuinely fun factor to think about when planning your party. It will be influenced by both the occasion and the guest list, as well as your own personal preferences.
There is a huge amount of flexibility when it comes to the theme because you can decide how much you want to commit to it. For example, it can be a subtle extra factor such as color, or a full immersion with a dress code, menu, decor, and entertainment to match.
The choice of themes available is only limited by your imagination. Some of the most popular themes are:
- Tea party
- Heroes and Villains
- The 1920s (or any other era of your choice)
- Murder Mystery
- Wild West
You could also choose a theme centering around a location that you love, or your favorite book, movie, or TV show. Plus, there are some themes linked to the time of year, such as Halloween and Christmas.
Try to pick a theme that’s easy to understand and plan your party around, as this will make life easier for both you and your guests. If you’re stuck on ideas or can’t choose between several that you love, you can always ask other people what they would prefer. You never know, they might come up with a brilliant theme that you haven’t even considered!
You can’t have a party without a place to host it, so get thinking about the location of your event early on. The easiest option is to have your gathering in your home or backyard. However, for larger events, that might not be practical.
The good news is that these days there is a huge variety of choices when it comes to hiring out a venue. You can keep things classic with a hall, go upmarket with a country manor, or get a package deal by hiring a private room at a restaurant that will also provide the food and drink. For something a bit more memorable and unique, you could even search for the perfect party yacht rental.
The main factors to keep in mind are choosing somewhere spacious enough to accommodate all your guests, appropriate for the occasion and theme, and suitable for whatever type of food and entertainment you have in mind. Another issue is accessibility.
For example, is the venue near a train station or bus stop? Is it easy to drive to? Do taxis frequently pick up or drop off passengers nearby?
Guests will be reluctant to travel too far or go to a location that requires a lot of changes on public transport. Having said that, if you find a fantastic venue that’s rather out of the way, you could always consider renting a bus to take everyone there and back.
With your theme and location sorted, you can begin to think about decor. That can be a very fun aspect of party planning because you can truly let your imagination run wild (as long as the venue agrees with your ideas!).
You can keep the decor as subtle or outlandish as you wish, in keeping with the occasion. It could be as simple as matching all the decorations to a certain color scheme, or something much bolder. Think about items such as place settings, fairy lights, balloons, drinks cups, bunting, and so on.
One main factor to consider is whether you are hosting an indoor or outdoor party because celebrating outside brings extra issues around weather and electricity supply that you’ll need to take on board during the planning stage. As with all the points in this article, budget is a concern you’ll always need to have in mind too.
Don’t get tempted to spend more than you intended just because you see something cool! Many party decorations can actually be made at home, so if you’re on a tight budget why not think about trying your hand at some DIY decor?
6. Dress code
In many cases, your dress code will be dictated by your theme. However, if you’ve chosen to have a party without an explicit theme then you can still pick a dress code to make the night more memorable. This could be the fancy dress of any kind or costumes centered around a specific time period, location, or another theme.
Alternatively, you could go for something simple such as asking people to wear a certain color. For more sophisticated parties, black tie is always a fantastic choice.
Don’t forget to take the type of party you’re planning into consideration when picking a dress code. For example, if it’s an outdoor event this might affect the type of shoes or clothes people want to wear. Of course, you shouldn’t feel as though you have to pick a dress code at all – for casual parties it’s often better to simply let your guests wear whatever they want.
7. Food and drink
Every party needs plenty of food and drink to keep its guests satiated, so don’t skimp on this! The number of people attending will be the main factor in determining how much you’ll need to stock up on, but it’s not the only one.
Some other questions to ask yourself include:
- Whether or not guests have any allergies or dietary requirements
- Whether you want a full three-course meal, just snacks, or a buffet
- What time of day people will be eating
Generally speaking, it’s better to overestimate the amount of food and drink you’ll need rather than run out halfway through the event. If you’re not a confident cook, there are plenty of readymade party snacks available to buy that only need to be heated in the oven or even simply put on a plate. Alternatively, you could hire caterers to take care of everything for you.
When it comes to drinks, it’s best to have a selection of different alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available to keep guests happy. Don’t worry if you don’t have a big budget for your party though; it’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring booze and snacks with them. That way, you can also be confident that everyone will have something they like on hand.
No matter what kind of party you’re hosting, music is essential. This point is especially true if you’ve got a dance floor that you’re hoping people will use.
Even at a more intimate event, such as a dinner party, it’s helpful to have some music playing quietly in the background. Not only are the tunes enjoyable, but it’s also a good way to cover any awkward silences at the beginning of the party as people arrive and get comfortable.
For larger events, it can be easiest to hire a DJ. If you’re hosting at home instead, you might set up a playlist on Spotify. Make sure it’s long enough to last the whole party and try to include a mixture of songs that you know your guests will like to hear.
If you’re having a themed party, be sure to curate your playlist accordingly. That could mean only choosing music from a certain era, or that evokes a particular feeling.
Music isn’t the only entertainment you can have at your party, and in most cases probably shouldn’t be. In order to keep your guests happy for the entire duration, it’s a good idea to have some other forms of fun on hand. That could be anything from party games and karaoke to a live band or stage show at larger events.
Again, this is a great opportunity to keep your theme going, so try to choose something that’s appropriate. For a dinner party, it might be a murder mystery game, or for a fun fair-themed event, you could get some carnival games.
There are plenty of lawn games you can buy for an outdoor event too, while board games are ideal for smaller indoor gatherings. As with everything else party-related, the only real limit is your imagination!
What are some other tips for party planners?