How to Host a Good Party

Three Methods:Preparing for the PartyBeing a Good HostGetting the Party Started

Whether you're throwing a raging party or a small gathering, you want your guests to have a good time. By making basic preparations and inviting a dynamic group of people, you can ensure your event will be a success. Hosting a good party is almost all about preparation, so if you get everything ready ahead of time you can be assured that you and your guests will have a good time all night.

Method 1
Preparing for the Party

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    Figure out what type of party you want. Having a guiding principle will make all the rest of your decisions simple and easy. Are you hosting a themed dinner party, or a blow-out with all of your friends? Do you want something small and intimate or the big banger that no one forgets. Ask yourself what kind of party you want to host before doing anything else -- this will help you decide who to invite, what to buy, and what to prepare.[1]
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    Invite your friends, making sure you only invite as many people as you can manage. When sending out invitations, assume everyone is going to say yes instead of inviting tons of people and hoping only a set amount can make it. You can always send out more invitations later. Asking for an RSVP is a great way to help you plan food, drinks, and party events.
    • Let people know if they can bring their families or friends with a "plus one" or "family and friends invited" attached to the email, card, or event notification.
    • Consider the type of party you want when sending invitations. If you want close conversation, you may want to limit it to 8-12 people. If you want a big, raging party you'll go much bigger.
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    Let people know what to expect in the invitation, often with a dress code. If you're having a classy party, let them know that it is "black tie," or "formal." If it's a loose, casual party, you can tell them to "come as they will," or "be ready to party." Try and use language that conveys the type of party you want so that no one gets surprised.
    • For example, if you're throwing a Halloween party, most people appreciate knowing upfront if they should wear a fancy dress costume or not.
    • You don't have to be obvious with the dress code. Describing the party as a "evening to catch up and share a nice dinner" clearly lets people know that they shouldn't wear glitter and a crop top, unless they want to.[2]
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    Clean the house thoroughly before people arrive if you are not hiring a venue. Don't give your guests any reason to think they're imposing or intruding on your life. If you don't want people in certain rooms, simply close the doors, and leave the rest of the doors open. Stock the guest bathroom with extra toilet paper, in plain sight, and make sure that there is a clean room where people can put their coats and other things. Finally, if you're using your own dishes, make sure they are all clean and ready to eat off of.
    • Make sure there is ample seating for everyone unless you're having a rave up dance party or an outdoor picnic party.
    • Decorations aren't required for a good party, but they help create the party atmosphere. If you're going to put them up, however, make sure they are up well in advance.
    • If you're throwing a big party, remove anything delicate or breakable in advance to avoid costly and embarrassing mishaps.[3]
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    Make sure you have enough food for the entire party if you are serving food. You should have food out for the entirety of the party, especially if there is drinking involved. This can be simple, like bowls of chips and dips, cheese and crackers, and pre-made veggie plates. If you're hosting a meal, put out these little snacks to hold your guests over while the courses come out. Don't feel, however, like you need to cook all day to throw a great party. You can always buy pre-prepared foods or simple things that you just warm up in the oven.
    • Don't put out all of your food at once. Fill up a few bowls, then refill them as the party needs.
    • Anticipate any dietary restrictions in advance. If you're unsure, make sure you have a gluten-free, (like veggies or rice crackers) kosher food, halal food, and vegetarian substitutes available. Consider anything containing nuts is labelled for those with nut allergies.
    • If you're cooking, give yourself ample time to prepare, and always cook more food than you think you'll need. Plan for an extra 2-3 guests to prevent running out.[4]
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    Have a variety of drinks on hand. If you're having a mixture of ages, a couple of sodas and juices should be with the alcohol. It is often best to have at least two types of alcohol available as well to accommodate different tastes, such as beer and wine, mixed drinks and champagne, beer and spirits, etc. Ice and lemon can be appropriate too.
    • Depending on the type of party, you may want to think about where the drinks go. It is often best to keep hard alcohol out of sight but accessible, with less alcoholic beverages like beer open and in plain sight to prevent over-drinking too early.[5]
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    Give yourself 1-2 hours more to prepare than you think you need. At the end of the day, you'll realize you forgot napkins, the appetizers might burn, or you'll forget that you need to shower and get dressed as well! Take the stress off yourself by building in a nice little buffer between your first guest arriving and your final preparations. If you seem relaxed and together when the guests arrive, they'll be relaxed too.[6]

Method 2
Being a Good Host

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    Keep calm, cool and collected no matter happens. Above all, you want to be warm, confident host. Your guests shouldn't feel for a minute like they're stressing or taxing you, or else they will start to feel stressed as well. Drinks will spill, conversation will occasionally stall, and food may run out. That's fine! Just stay friendly and welcoming the entire time, helping your guests feel like they a part of your house and not some burden you have to shoulder.[7]
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    Greet each guest individually as they arrive. Set the tone of the party with a warm greeting when people arrive. Offer to take coats or jackets and direct them to the right room. It is usually best to let any guests who haven't been over before know where they can get a drink or some food, and point out the guest bathroom. If you can, take some time to talk and converse. If you're cooking or moving around a lot, lead them into the party, hand them a drink, and excuse yourself with a smile.[8]
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    Spend some time with each guest. Make an effort, once things calm down and the party is in full swing, to talk with each guest. You'll do a lot of drifting to make sure everyone is engaged and happy, but your guests will be happy that you took the time to see them. This doesn't have to be a systematic movement through the crowd. Just try to have one good, memorable moment with each guest before the night is over.[9]
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    Keep your guests engaged by checking in periodically. Mix up the conversation groups by introducing people to one another and sliding from one group to another. Find ways to engage shyer guests, or those on the fringes looking at their phones, through conversation and activities. It is your job to steer conversation to new topics if someone is monopolizing the crowd or leaning into unsavory topics.
    • A good way to mix up groups is to ask someone for some help with something. You can then steer them to a new group when you're done, or make space for someone else to move in.
    • Enlist very shy friends as assistants. Ask them to help keep the food filled with you or prepare a dish for dinner. They'll appreciate the attention.[10]
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    Adapt to the party as it evolves. Everyone may love dancing, loud music, and drinking in the first half of the evening. After dinner, you'll likely notice more people sitting and talking in intimate conversations, or moving away from the dance floor. Feel free to adapt accordingly, putting on calmer music and moving the chairs closer together. Put on a pot of coffee or tea after dessert to entice people to relax. You could also go the opposite direction, too, keeping things calm and conversational until people get a little tipsy, then upping the music to get people out on the dance floor for the second, raging half of the party.
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    Leave the dishes until the next day. No one wants to see you scrambling around, cleaning the house while they're still trying to have fun. Make sure that any major messes, like spills, are cleaned up and that there are trash cans for people to deposit empty bottles, cans, and cups, and then relax. Enjoy your own party for a bit and don't worry about cleaning until later.
    • Cleaning usually signals to others that the party is wrapping up and it is time to go. This could be a nice, subtle way to start pushing people out the door.[11]

Method 3
Getting the Party Started

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    Always have higher-tempo, upbeat music playing in the background, if appropriate. For some, choosing party music may be the most difficult decision of the entire party. These days, however, DJing is getting easier and easier with iPods, apps, and music websites. Pick music that is upbeat but not pounding. If you want people dancing, clear out space and play something you want to dance to -- such as electronic, swing, or pop. Moreover, don't be afraid to mix it up if people seem bored, or let a trusted, musically-inclined friend take the reins. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with a Pandora or Songza station set to these classic party genres.
    • 90's Hip-Hop and RnB: If the party is younger-skewing, this is almost always the right move.
    • Motown and Soul: There are very few people, of any generation, that won't get down to some Temptations or Stevie Wonder. Best for a varied, larger crowd.
    • Big-Band Jazz and Swing: If you're having a classy dinner or conversational party, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie will get you through every course with aplomb.[12]
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    Dim the lighting. Use candles, a fireplace, or even Christmas lights to cast a dim, warm glow around the room. Bright lights have the tendency to make people self-conscious, especially if it is not natural sunlight. Good, dim, lighting is one of the best ways to loosen up the party and let people know they can relax and let their hair down.[13]
    • If you can double up your lighting with some nicely scented candles, the smell factor will enhance your party mood even more.
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    Provide activities to stimulate conversation and loosen people up. Games and events bring people together, especially in the awkward early stages of a party. Of course, the activity will depend a lot on the group and the party, from drinking games like pong and king's cup to more tame games like Apples to Apples (or Cards Against Humanity, for raunchy crowds) or a pool table and dart board. You can put the big game on TV or simply play a slideshow silently, giving people something to talk about if conversation lulls. Other ideas include:
    • Tasting tests or contests with the appetizers.
    • Introducing people who may have not before.
    • A set-aside dance floor near the speakers.
    • Truth or Dare, Never Have I Ever, Desert Island, and similar conversational games.
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    Let the vibe grow organically instead of pushing your guests to have fun. The best parties happen when everyone feels comfortable, contributing to the party in their own unique ways. This won't happen if you're constantly trying to make people dance, asking "are you having fun," or pushing games on people who just want to talk. Things will likely not hop into party mode right off the bat, but if people feel comfortable, well fed, and able to drink, the party will kick off on its own.


  • Your guests will generally only treat your house as nice as they think you treat it. If they walk in and your house is messy then they won't feel so bad about not cleaning up after themselves, so it is important to make a good first impression on how you like to keep your house.
  • Save up a fair amount of money before the party. You can pull one off with minimal funds, but if you can afford plenty of good quality snacks your guests will love you for it. Don't go overboard, however.
  • Try to make luck work for you. If it starts pouring rain while you're at a theme park and the rides close, buy some flimsy raincoats from the store and have a laugh at how ridiculous you must look trying not to get saturated. This happened to me once - we missed the rides, but had a lot of fun.
  • When inviting guests, see if you can invite somebody who, if needed, will be the life of the party. That way, hopefully, you'll never be in an awkward moment (the killer of parties).


  • Always, always, ALWAYS ensure the safety of your guests. Even if it means you have to stop an activity and people momentarily dislike you for it, having your friends injured/raped/subject to alcohol poisoning is not good.

Things You'll Need

  • food and drinks
  • music
  • have a lot of people come and party

Article Info

Categories: Event and Party Planning