How to Have a Great Party

Three Parts:Planning Who, What, When, Where, and WhyPlanning the Party EssentialsKeeping the Energy Up

Are you really wanting to have a good time? Throwing a party is a great way to celebrate life and have fun with your good friends! Learn how to pick out your party theme, what kind of supplies (like food and drinks) you might need, and activities to do during your party. See Step 1 to get started on your next amazing party and creating memories you'll never forget.

Part 1
Planning Who, What, When, Where, and Why

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    Think about the reason for your party. Is this a party to celebrate a birthday or an international party holiday (e.g. New Year's Eve, Halloween)? Or maybe you were just thinking of throwing a Friday-night house party to get together with your friends. Things to consider with each reason: age appropriateness, decorations, theme for dressing, location, food, beverages, who you should invite, and just how many people you'd like to invite.
    • Birthday parties: Some examples of prominent ages to celebrate with a great party are: 10-12, 16, 18, and 21.
    • Holiday parties: These parties are centered close to or on the date of a national holiday. New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day, and Halloween are the most prominent of holidays that are celebrated with a wild party!
    • After-parties: An after-party is just that--a party that is thrown after a concert or show.
    • Mixer/Singles parties: These parties are for the single and ready to mingle!
    • Sports parties: A sports party is often placed on the day that the Super Bowl takes place or generally during certain sports seasons.
    • House parties: House parties are simple, laid-back parties to just get friends together and to have a good time. These types of parties are often thrown on Friday and Saturday nights.
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    Consider age appropriateness. With each type of party, it is important to keep in mind the age limit and attitude of each party. For example, a birthday party for a 16-year-old is very different than a singles party or a New Year's Eve party. When throwing a party for someone who is under the age of 18, keep it clean, non-sexual, and with several fun activities to do. Or, better yet, throw it at a place that hosts young and teenage parties such as an amusement park, an arcade, a pizza place, etc.
    • The age of the attendees should determine just about everything. Fewer guests should be in attendance (can you imagine 20 8-year-olds running around your house?), there needs to be more scheduled things to do, and the length of the party should be shorter as the attendees get younger.
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    Think about the location. According to the idea behind the party, consider where you are going to throw this shindig. Some options include your house, a friend's house, somewhere outdoors, at a bar/club, at a restaurant, etc.
    • If you are looking to throw a party in a neighborhood area, make sure that your neighbors or your friend's neighbors are okay with what you're doing in case of loud music or a large amount of people.
    • If you are throwing a party at a facility such as a bar, a club, a restaurant, an amusement park, or anywhere else that is owned and managed, call in advance before showing up, ask about the number of people allowed, and book a slot in the facility's schedule.
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    Determine your guest list. You'll want to make sure you invite your closest friends first before your acquaintances. If you are looking to throw a large party, consider adding a +1 to the invite, meaning your guests have the option to bring a friend that you may or may not know. This can be a little risky because you will not be able to tell who will get along with who, but it's also a great way to meet new people.
    • If you are having family over at your party, keep it to your closest friends (unless it is family that is very close to your age). You don't want to have to explain unknown party attendants to your grandmother.
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    Pick a maximum number for your guest list. Unless you know a very large amount of people, your party attendance may be a little small and therefore you will not have to worry about it. If you do know a fairly large amount of people, say 30, or you have decided to go with the +1 option, then consider keeping it at that. Parties that accumulate more than 30 people tend to become out of hand. To help with this situation, ask a couple of your closest friends to help maintain the party alongside you.
    • The bigger your party, the more help you'll need -- especially if you're the one covering all the food, drink, and entertainment. Ask a few friends to help pitch in at least with set-up and clean-up or turn it into a potluck so the financial burden isn't all your own.

Part 2
Planning the Party Essentials

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    Decide if your party should have a theme. Themed parties make it easier for your guests to feel comfortable and included in the group. Sometimes, when one does not know what to wear to a party they tend to be a little uneasy when they show up. Also, themed parties are fun! If you are throwing a holiday party, then ask your guests to dress according to the holiday. If you are throwing a themed birthday or house party, some common themes are 1980s, toga/Greek, black & white, masquerade, jungle/amazon, and Western.
    • If you are 18 or older, consider throwing a "sexy" costume party. Most adults refer to this as a "costume party." Only some transfer students from abroad won't know the connotation.
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    Plan the food. Party food is usually junk food and junk food is usually sugary, starchy, salty, inexpensive, and easy to maintain. Common foods are cake, ice-cream, chips, salsa, dip, chex mix, candy, brownies, and cupcakes. But of course you can switch it up according to the motive of the party. Get creative!
    • Plenty of people use parties as an excuse to get fancy. If you're having more of a formal event, none of that processed stuff is even going to touch your spread. Only hors d'oeuvres of fancy cheeses, breads, and vegetables will grace your soiree.
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    Don't forget the beverages! When you think of drinking at a party, you probably think of beer and shots, but it doesn't have to be just that. Stock up on fruit punch, water and different kinds of soda while you're out party shopping. For alcoholic drinks, beer is the least expensive of your options and you may want to consider buying a keg depending on the amount of people. Also, it will cut down on the amount of garbage (if you've ever been left picking up aluminum cans after a big party, you know how that goes). Popular party beers are Guinness, Keystone, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller, and Bud Light. You might also want to pick up some hard liquor, wine, and mixers.
    • If there is drinking at your party, your guests are your responsibility. You must make sure they have rides home and that some people are designated drivers. Be prepared to take peoples' keys if need be. Have plenty of water and other drinks to encourage people to either sober up or stay sober in the first place.
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    Purchase decorations. Decorations are always based on the theme and the motive for the party. Most party decorations can be found at your local party store or an online party store and are relatively inexpensive. Make sure you decorate your party well if it is themed. The more, the better. If your guests feel like they really are in the jungle or that they really are in the 80's, they will have even more fun.
    • If your place is hard to find, also purchase signage to help people direct themselves to the right spot. Balloons or streamers are eye-catching; you could also light up your walk with party lights or torches.
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    Prepare yourself with supplies. So you've got your food, your beverages, your decorations, what else?
    • For starters, you'll need containers to keep your food and beverages safe and at their required temperature. Keep food out in large amounts on trays, in bowls, and on plates where your guests can easily access them.
    • You will want to keep your beverages cold and in an easy-access place as well. Invest in a large ice chest to put canned soda and beer in. For hard and bottled liquor, keep these out on or behind a counter that you can easily regulate and maintain. You may want to invest in a wine cooler for keeping wine cold.
    • If you have a keg, you're going to want to have a trusted friend stand by it or take turns with one another to refill peoples' cups.
    • You'll want to get paper or plastic cups, plates, and bowls. You do not want to pass around your mother's favorite china at a party because it WILL get dropped.
    • Go for plastic when purchasing knives, forks, and spoons so that you can recycle them along with the paper dishware at the end of the party.
    • Other supplies are: a large trashcan or recycling bin for dispensing these items and a large bucket or two filled with water for cigarettes (otherwise your guests will litter cigarette butts all over your front and backyard and possibly inside your home) or several large ashtrays.
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    Plan some activities. After they arrive, your guests will most likely be amazed by your attire and your selection of food, beverages, and decorations, but they will want something to do after they've gotten through with the greetings. Here are some ideas to literally get the party started:
    • Pool (if you are in possession of a pool table)
    • A dartboard and darts
    • A ping-pong table
    • A beer pong table
    • Music and a wide area set aside for dancing
    • If you have a pool and/or hot tub keep it/them clean and running.
    • There are other activities to play that don't involve anything (games, etc.) and can be played throughout your party. Keep some in mind if a lull ever extends over the crowd.
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    Get the music right. One of the biggest questions you're probably thinking about is what music should you play at your party. It's possible to book a DJ or have a musically inclined friend DJ your party if there's a large amount of people, but since the invention of iPods and computers, you can be your own DJ! You can use iTunes and have it playing through your speakers on your computer, or you can setup an iPod-compatible stereo system in the same room as your dance floor and play music from there.
    • Think about the entirety of your guests and what music you think they would like. Or, play different types of music throughout the evening if your guests have a wide difference in music tastes. Popular party music is often rap, hip-hop, dance, electro, house, and basically anything that has a beat that your guests can dance to.

Part 3
Keeping the Energy Up

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    Prep your home, if applicable. Inviting 30 people over to your house for beer pong is probably a good reason to bring your ancient Roman vase collection to the attic. Anything you don't want touched, messed with, or potentially broken needs to put out of sight. Shut the doors to rooms you don't want entered, lock them, tidy up the bathroom, and get your home in party condition.
    • You'll probably want to have garbage bags and cleaning supplies at the ready, too, just to make everything easier.
    • Have games and alternative choices of music out just in case the party needs a little revamping.
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    Get everything set up. Get a couple of your closest friends together to help prepare your house for the party. This is also a plus for when guests start showing up; it looks like people are already there and in case someone not so well-known shows up early, it'll save you from an awkward situation. Direct each guest as they show up to the designated food, beverage, and entertainment areas. You want them feeling comfortable right off the bat.
    • Mingle and get to know the people you might not know so well. If there's alcohol involved at your party, make sure everyone who wants to drink has a drink in their hand. Turn the music up enough so that you can still comfortably hear one another.
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    Keep your guests happy. Make sure your guests are comfortable with one another by introducing those that aren't known that well to your group of friends. You may also want to start with the party activities and turn the music up louder to enforce a party atmosphere. Monitor the alcohol counter to keep anyone from overdoing it with hard liquor. For groups that don't know each other, you may need to start conversations rolling. That's why you're the host!
    • If the party starts reaching a lull, feel free to call it a night. Just start cleaning up and telling people thanks for coming and they'll get the hint. If they don't, just tell them the party's over! They don't have to go home, but they can't stay there.
    • Make sure everyone gets home okay. Do they have your number? Are they okay to drive? Does anyone need a ride? If they can't drive, do you have a sofa or bed they can crash on?
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    Ask others for help cleaning up. If your entire living room is a pyramid of aluminum cans and delicately placed paper plates, you have more than enough right to ask your guests to help clean up. It's their mess, too! If that thought makes you nervous, ask a few of your closest friends to tackle the beast before they leave. You'll pay them back when they host next time!


  • Block off certain parts of the house and lock doors you do not want guests going into.
  • Make sure to have drinks in storage or money to purchase more drinks in case the keg runs dry or the drinks run out.
  • Clean up any spills or messes right away.
  • Have close friends there to help you out and keep an eye on guests while you're busy elsewhere during the party.
  • Ensure a good cooling system in the hall where you organize your party. Since there will be a number of people, they will need sufficient air to breathe.
  • Make sure you enjoy yourself which is the most important thing of all.
  • If your party is themed, dress up! If you go all out with costume and make-up, your guests will be inspired, and they will feel more comfortable with their own wild outfit choices!
  • Stay relatively sober or have a friend around that will stay sober so that you/they can maintain the party in case it gets wild.
  • Make your party feel comfortable to you by decorating it to you and your friends style.


  • Inviting people you don't know to your party is risky because you do not know their behavior.
  • Alcohol loosens peoples' inhibitions and it's easy for a party to get out of hand when alcohol is involved.
  • Loud music and alcohol is liable to set off a noise complaint from a neighbor if you have not already talked with them about your party. In this case, the police will show up at your door to ask you to turn the music down and possibly ticket you. If you have alcohol or drugs going around the party, make sure to clear them from sight so as not to provoke a search.

Things You'll Need

  • A house/a friend's house/facility to throw a party at
  • Party decorations/favors
  • Party food
  • Beverages/alcohol
  • Party Paper
  • Plastic plates, bowls, and cups
  • Plastic utensils
  • Large trash and/or recycling bin
  • Large bucket(s) filled with water/Several large ashtrays
  • Punch bowl
  • Counters for food and beverages
  • Large ice chest
  • Plenty of ice
  • Computer w/ speakers or a stereo sound system w/ iPod compatibility
  • Large area for dancing
  • Pool table (optional)
  • Ping-Pong/Beer pong table (optional)
  • Dartboard and darts (optional)
  • Pool/Hot tub (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Event and Party Planning