If you are thinking of hosting any sort of party in the near future, then this post is for you! – it is a list of all the decisions that need to be made to make the planning and hosting of any party much easier.
You want to make sure that you have made each decision and asked yourself each of the questions below – so you can check them off your TO DO list. You can then be a lot more assured that the party will run as smoothly as it possibly can, with nothing left to chance and all angles covered.
Please note that these decisions are in no particular order – as some are dependent on others – so it’s worth grabbing a large piece of paper and a pen and brainstorming the party. Think about each decision in the order that works best for you.
Some decisions are bound to be easier than others, but the key is to ensure you have consciously thought about each of the 10 things below.
Decision #1 – Who & What?
First things first, and that’s back to the very basics.
It may sound obvious, but do you have a definite person or event that the party is for?
Knowing this will help with all other decisions. You may be holding a party for someone specifically for a birthday, for a couple for an engagement, for a family moving away, or for an event such as Christmas or Summer etc… there are literally endless reasons to hold a party – but ensuring that you know the purpose of the party will make the other decisions you have to make a lot easier.
Until you know the WHO and the WHAT then you will find organising it very difficult indeed!
TIP – When you are thinking about who and what the party is for, it’s worth taking a few moments to try and visualise how it will look – then you can work back and you will have a better idea of what you are aiming for, and you may find that all decisions are much easier once you have something in mind.
TIP – If you are hosting a party for someone then ensure that they are involved in all decisions so that they get the party that they want (unless of course, it’s a surprise!)
Decision #2 – When?
This decision can really make or break a party, and you have to think about the WHEN in terms of both a date and a time – so lets look at each of these in turn.
Lets talk dates first –
Thinking about the date of the party isn’t just about when is best for you, for the venue etc… – you also need to think about whether people are likely to be away (if its a bank holiday, or in the school holidays etc….), and try and ensure you will have the most people possible being able to come.
If you are holding a Christmas party and you want to have it on a special day close to the time, then you want to be organising invitations asap so that people are more likely to still be free – as people tend to get booked up quickly at certain times of the year.
The last thing you want is a party that no-one can actually come to because the date isn’t great!
Then think about time-
Timing is crucial for a party – having more of an idea of what the party will be and who will be coming will help you to determine the right time for the party.
Also worth considering is how long the party will be as well – always best to have a start and finish time in mind as then guests will be more aware of whats expected, they can organise transport or babysitters, and you won’t have the issue of asking people to go at the end! You can also ensure that you have enough time to do whatever you are planning at the party as well (i.e. eating, entertainment etc..)
Some options would be:-
- Cocktail party would be great for early evening or late (allow people to have eaten before or after)
- Childrens parties tend to work best being around 2 hours long in the morning as it is the most active time for them, they can play before sitting down for food, and you allow parents to still be able to do family things in the afternoon (it also tends to work better around sleep times for very little ones)
- Family BBQ style parties – work best mid afternoon to early evening – around tea time but not too late for younger children
Decision #3 – Budget
Of course – you may have very grand ideas for what you want, and where you want to hold it – but knowing your budget will help you to make decisions more easily, and count things in or out depending on what they cost.
Give yourself a budget for the overall party, and then split into things like venue, food, entertainment, drinks etc….. and remember to STICK TO IT.
Whatever the budget you have, you can make a party amazing – and you can be more creative on less budget as well.
Some ways to save money are as follows:-
- Get guests to bring food – someone in charge of puddings, another for salads, another for snacks etc….
- Hold the party in your home rather than a specific venue
- Get people to bring a bottle
- Borrow things from friends i.e. chairs, outdoor toys for kids etc…..
- For childrens parties, why not think about sharing the cost of hiring somewhere by joining up with other childrens parents – that way your child will get a great party, and all their friends will be there (especially useful if they have friends with similar birthday dates as you could find you have all arranged a party on the same day!)
Decision #4 – Venue
Picking a venue will be important as you need to ensure it’s available when you want to have the party, and that it is suitable for the type of party and the number of guests you want to invite.
Think about how many guests you are having, what the weather is likely to be like, what facilities you may need, what entertainment you may have etc…. – and of course your budget.
Decision #5 – Guest list
Next is pulling together a guest list – so brainstorm who you would like to invite, and then work from there.
It may be that you have the perfect amount of people for the party you have in mind, but you may well have to cut down on people as well.
Think about who knows who – are their groups of people that work well together, people you have been dying to get together as you think they would gel well, or equally there may be people that you know that don’t get on at all. Knowing how people work together will help you create a fantastic party environment – the last thing you want is for an argument to happen halfway through the party.
If you are having a small dinner party then you will want to make sure that everyone gets on – otherwise it will be a long night!
It may be that you have to limit children at a kids party because the venue cannot hold more than a certain number – and you have to factor in parents as well!
TIP – Ensure invitations are very specific – especially if you want your guests to bring / do anything for the party. (i.e. dress up, bring a bottle, bring a game etc…). Also ensure that you ask people to RSVP by a certain date – and keep a list of who you have invited, and who has replied – so you are sure of numbers etc…
Decision #6 – Pick a theme
Themes can be very in your face and obvious, or more subtle. But sometimes they are great to get everyone in the party mood!
What about a simple theme like getting everyone to dress up in a certain colour, or genre, or style – or have the venue set up asa theme, or have the food as the theme i.e. Italian/cocktails/Mexican, the entertainment i.e. casino night, karaoke etc….
Whether you go big or small in your theme, make sure you have thought about it, as then your decision making will be easier.
Decision #7 – Food and drink
Think about food – will you or won’t you have this – is the party timed correctly so that your guests will be hungry?! It sounds obvious but if it starts at say 8pm then a lot of guests may assume they need to eat first – so your time and money may be wasted if you have a huge buffet on offer.
Also – having a childrens party between 1 and 3 may not be ideal if you have food – as children tend to want to eat earlier for lunch and later for tea – so you may again have a lot of food uneaten which wouldn’t be a sensible use of your budget.
It’s also really important to know if any of your guests have allergies or food likes and dislikes so you can ensure there are some choices for everyone.
Having enough drinks available is key to a good party – whether it be juice at a kids party, or alcohol at a cocktail party.
Think about what types of drinks will be needed, and try to cater for everyone – i.e. for a cocktail party you will have some people not drinking so you need to consider some great non alcoholic alternatives for those people so they don’t get left out.
Decision #8 – Party supplies
Every party will need supplies – whether it be decorations, items for the table (plates, cutlery, napkins etc….), party poppers, streamers and balloons, banners, party favours, party bags, themed items etc…. – the list really is endless.
As with everything, it is too easy to go overboard if you’re not careful – so stick to a budget, plan out the essentials, and hunt around for a bargain – but ensure that the venue looks as good as you can, and that you have all you need for people to eat, drink and be merry!
Decision #9 – Entertainment
It’s easy to think about making the venue look great, and having food available for guests – but a lot of people actually forget about what their guests will do once they get there. Think about the feel you want at the venue – will it be bright and loud or dim and calming – and then look at the entertainment that will create that feel.
Use music, games, kids entertainment, to create the party ambience you want to create, and let your mind wander to include anything that guests will enjoy doing when they are there.
Will you have paid for entertainment such as a disco, or a kids entertainer – or just simply have music in the background?
This decision can make or break a theme, as you are creating an atmosphere with your entertainment – and having a disco set up at a cocktail party will really kill the mood!, just as having quiet music at a BBQ wouldn’t be suitable either.
TIP – Whatever type of party you are having, if you are also inviting kids then ensure they are going to have something to keep them busy and interested – this will relax the parents, and make the party go much more smoothly! It’s always worth having toys or something for them to do -have a craft table set up so that they can sit and colour in, or balloons/bubbles in the garden etc….
Decision #10 – Who is doing what?
Last but not least is to delegate and get help for all the decisions you have made.
There’s a lot to do once you know what you are putting together – from Invitations to be sent out, people bringing stuff, decorating etc…. and it all needs to be delegated or taken control of.
Write down names by the jobs and get as many people involved as you can – people like helping organise parties, and it will take a lot of the load of you – which can only be a bonus!
To recap – the decisions to be made are as follows:-
- Who & what
- Guest List
- Pick a theme
- Food and drink
- Party supplies
- Who is doing what?
So – next time you have a party, take a look at each of these and ensure you don’t get caught out!
Above all else though – just HAVE FUN!