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How to Plan a Party

Three Parts:Determining Your Party PlansSetting Up the PartyMaking Your Party a Success

Sometimes you just need to throw a great party! There’s nothing like hosting and seeing all your friends together in the same place. But how do you do it? With adequate planning, the right food and music, a solid guest list, and a few things to do, your party is sure to be a hit and maybe even a tradition.

Part 1
Determining Your Party Plans

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    Pick a place. Where are you going to have the party? Will it be a big event, or a little get together? Could you have it at your house or a friend’s house? Did you have a venue in mind, like a specific restaurant, bowling alley, movie theater, or park?
    • If you plan on having quite a few guests and can’t do it at home, you may want to make reservations at your venue beforehand to make sure they can accommodate you. It’s best to call at least a week in advance to give yourself the best odds of getting the okay. Make sure to set a date on the invitation on when to RSVP, if the don't respond by then call them.
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    Determine a date and time for your party. If it’s a birthday party, most people try to have the party on that date. Otherwise, any weekend evening or night is generally best so you and your guests don’t have school or work in the morning. Most parties are after dinner, but a brunch or afternoon party works, too.
    • Also, make sure to pick a date when most of your guests are free. Do you know of another party happening or a community event or holiday that has everyone booked? You may have to do some asking around beforehand to figure out if this is the case.[1]
    • You may also want to have a duration of time for your party. That way when it hits midnight, your guests know that they don’t have to go home, but they can’t stay with you (or at the venue that’s closing). It also helps people not have to worry about an unscheduled departure.
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    Decide on a theme. Will it be for an occasion? If so, think what will please the guest of honor. Otherwise, try to come up a theme that might get everyone excited or intrigued. Here are some tips:[2]
    • Do something that’s accessible, especially if the party this weekend. An all black party is easy; a 1940s party is not (unless you give everyone adequate prep time).
    • Do something that’s not clothing related. A sandwich party (where everyone brings a different sandwich) could be quite the hit. Not to mention the classic wine or beer tasting party, too.
    • Do something with a broader theme, like a “golf” or “owl” themed party. You could then have “par”faiths or chicken wings, and other themed fare.
    • Or don’t have a theme at all. Sometimes it’s just nice for friends to get together and enjoy each others’ company.
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    Plan your guest list. This will be partly determined by where you’re having the party – how many people can the venue tolerate? What’s more, who do you want there and who would enjoy the party? Do you know anyone who isn’t free?
    • Not everyone wants to dance and not everyone wants to listen to the music; some people want to talk and relax. If your party is one kind or the other, take that into account with your guest list. However, if you can, try to accommodate for different interests and levels of social comfort with space planning if it is possible, and, if applicable, account for different age groups.
    • Also determine whether you want your friends to bring friends or not. That could seriously change how many heads you have to plan for and mouths you have to feed.
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    Decide on a budget. If this is your party, you’ll likely have to front most of the cost. You may also have to decorate even if you don’t have it at your home. How much are you willing to spend? If it’s not a ton, ask a few friends if they can chip in. They want to party too, don’t they?
    • A good way to deflect the costs of a party is to have a potluck. This way everyone chips in and is a part of the fun and you don’t have to pay for all the food. You could also specifically instruct certain people to bring drinks, ice, plates, napkins, and cutlery.
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    Get the word out. No party will be a party if your guests don’t know to come. A good place to start is a Facebook event, though you should also be talking about it with them in person and via text. Aim to first start the talking about two weeks in advance so they don’t make plans, and remind them once or twice before the party, too.[3]
    • You could also make invitations or buy them. Pass them out within a reasonable time frame of notice. If you plan on instructing your invitees to bring friends, don't send out the invitations too soon or you could end up with a bigger party population than you can handle.

Part 2
Setting Up the Party

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    Prepare and set out your food. Your food choice packs a big punch in your party. If you don't know what to get, ask around to see what your future party-attendees would like. Safe bets are finger foods, like chips, veggies, cookies and cupcakes, mini sandwiches, pretzels, popcorn, cheese and crackers, and bites of fruit.
    • Do not neglect drinks, ice, cups, napkins, plates, forks, and knives, too. You’ll also need some method of chilled storage (like a large cooler) to keep the drinks cold as well.
    • If you’re of age, be sure to offer non-alcoholic drinks if you are offering an array of alcoholic drinks – not everyone wants to or can consume alcohol. What’s more, you don’t want a bunch of drunk guests trashing the area and no sober drivers to get them home.
    • Always make sure that none of your guests have allergies or serious diet restrictions; if they do, make sure there is food for them to enjoy, too.
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    Make a party playlist. What's a party without music? Pick music that you think will be most agreeable to the spirit of your party and your guests. It's a good idea to have an iTunes window open on your computer so you can download tunes or play videos that guests suggest.
    • If you don't have a lot of your own tunes, ask your guests to bring their own. You could also play an internet radio station that has whatever is hot, and jam away.
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    Set the mood and tone of the party with lighting and decorations. If you want to have an energetic dance environment, have music, strobe lights, lasers, a fog machine and maybe some video synchronized with your music. If you want a classy wine-tasting party, skip the strobe lights and light some candles instead. It all depends on how you envision the party in your mind.
    • As for decorations, this bit is completely up to you. Are you going to literally roll out a red carpet for your red carpet party? Go old school with streamers? Make it look like Christmas threw up in your house? Generally your theme will dictate the decorations. And none is fine, too, if that’s how you roll.
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    If necessary, clean your house. If the party will be held in your home, make sure to pick an area for the guests to sit, chat, and eat. Clean the area beforehand and tidy up to ensure that the guests are comfortable and won't be touching any of your personal items (for example children's graded quizzes, private photos, mobile phones, children's toys, or anything that your children, spouse, or you aren't comfortable having other people see).
    • It's a good idea to have some cleaning stuff around, like a stain stick just in case someone spills on themselves or your furniture.[4] Make sure there is enough toilet paper, too. It may sound weird, but you don't want the only memory of your party to be an empty tube, and you really don't want someone you may not know using your hand towels.
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    Have some party games set up. This does not mean what it used to with pin the tail on the donkey or spin the bottle (though it can if you’re doing a throwback party). Nowadays it means video games, gossip games, and getting a little crazier.
    • Rock Band is a good game to have going on in the background for parties. This game is available on multiple game systems with the objective of playing as members of a band with the use of the guitar, microphone and drum kit included with the game.
    • The Guitar Hero series is another good one. This can be a one or two player game depending on which edition you choose. Like Rock Band, it uses its own controllers of the guitar nature to play through the game's levels.
    • Dance Dance Revolution rounds out this trio. It can be one or two player depending on what controllers you have available. Step to the music as directed by the arrows on the screen. Even if only a few people play this game, depending on which edition you choose, can provide some great music.
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    Have plans to address rules and guest safety. If the party is at your home, you may want to brief everyone on the setup. Throw the coats in the bedroom, and the basement is off-limits, for example. If you're feeling sick, there's a second bathroom off the first bedroom – don't get sick in the kitchen sink. Oh, and the toilet takes a second to flush.
    • If you're at a venue, you may need to remind everyone to act responsibly. If they get loud and disorderly, you could either be kicked out or asked to never return.
    • If drinking is happening at your home, you need to decide how you want to run it. Are there minors present, too? Will you watch and care for your guests if they become too drunk? We'll address more details in the next section.

Part 3
Making Your Party a Success

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    Take pictures. Odds are you’re going to want to remember this party and brag about it on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social media platforms you use, in addition to remembering it for years to come. So start taking pictures! Whether they’re of the table-full of macaroni n’ cheeses (at a mac n’ cheese tasting, of course), you and your friends all dressed up, or your sweet disco ball, it’s all good. In fact, take pictures of everything.
    • If you're going all out, set up a "photo booth" – an area of the room set up specifically for taking photos. Place a piece of fabric on the backdrop, decorate it as you see fit, and keep a basket of props handy for people to use to take funny photos. It's also a good activity for bored guests.
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    Be a social butterfly. You probably have a whole bunch of people at your party that don’t know each other super well. In that case, you’ll have to be the link between them, bridging the gap. To make everyone feel a little bit more comfortable (especially toward the beginning), be a butterfly, flitting around from group to group, introducing everyone and diffusing the tension. When the fun really gets started, you’ll see people making new friends thanks to you.
    • If this an issue, consider getting a game together that involves everyone. Charades, Heads Up, and even games like Truth or Dare can be classic hits.
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    Clean as you go. Parties get messy and they get messy fast. What’s more, people are notorious for not being polite and clean in a party environment, especially when it’s not in their house. Whether you’re in your house or at a public venue, it may be up to you to keep the area relatively neat and tidy. It doesn’t have to be spotless, but you definitely don’t want a tower of garbage accumulating on your drinks table, you know?
    • Be sure to keep the trash and recycling in an open area. If it gets full, people will likely keep piling it up until its unmanageable, so get at it as soon as possible to avoid it spilling everywhere later in the night.
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    If your guests are drinking in your home, take their keys. The party’s at your house and there’s alcohol? Then your guests are your responsibility. Take their keys at the beginning of the party, hide them all in a bowl somewhere, and only give them back if they’re sober at the end of the night.
    • You could also designate someone as the key keeper, so you’re not dealing with all the responsibilities. If you know someone isn’t drinking of their own accord, ask them if they could do this for you – you already have to deal with everything else!
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    As your guests leave, give them a token from the party. Whether it’s leftover food, a cupcake, or a party favor, it’s nice to have something for your guests to leave the party with – and it’s less clutter for you to worry about. That way everyone leaves with a piece of the party, feeling like they were involved and had a good time.
    • Make sure to tag everyone in all your photos, too, when all is said and done. People will be reminded of how fun your party was and be looking forward to your next one. What will the next party's theme be?


  • Let people know about the party in advance! If people know about your party weeks in advance, then this gives them a chance to make sure they do not plan anything on the day of the party.
  • Make sure you talk to everyone and ask how they are doing to ensure everyone feels like they are getting enough attention. No one wants to sit all by themselves the entire party.
  • Always show up at the place of the party 2 and a half hours before the party starts to take care of decorations, cake, drinks, food, music, etc.
  • Always invite a few more people than you plan on having at the party because it will make up for the gap of people that do not show up.
  • Always have extra room ready in your house in case someone needs to stay over.
  • If you have a small number of guests, consider an activity such as swimming or shopping.
  • Consider a theme. Try to pick something that goes with the season and has a catchy name. Grab a few decorations, conversation starters or party favors that match the theme. Invite people you like and/or know – inviting people due to their status won't enhance the status of your party or its quality.
  • If there is a theme then try to include it in your invitations so nobody turns up in a wrong costume or so they don't feel embarrassed.
  • if the party is at your house, and music is going to be playing loud, warn your neighbours before hand, and make sure there are no ding-dong-ditchers.
  • Have at least one bathroom available to party-goers. Make sure those bathrooms are super clean and stocked with toilet paper, tissues, hand towels and soap. You wouldn't want to run out of those in the middle of a party.
  • Make sure you invite as many of your friends as you can so no one feels left out.
  • If you invite dozens of people, you might not notice if one of them is sitting awkwardly in the corner. With a smaller party you can give everyone a bit of attention.
  • When it comes to music, pick some new songs, your favorite songs, and some of the guests' favorite songs. That way everyone will be happy.
  • If someone is embarrassed and/or is alone, make sure that they feel better and maybe, just a suggestion, get some of your friends and have a random dance party and dance to the music, if you think that it's alright being weird from time to time.
  • When sending out the invites, don't use Facebook events or send a mass group text. People tend to not take those seriously. It's best to invite your guests in person, give them a phone call or send an individual text to them.


  • Do not let guests invite their friends over without your approval first.
  • Don't have drugs present. It can result in arrest, and trouble with all parents.
  • Try to avoid people who dislike other people on your guest list.
  • Don't invite someone who is negative; they may bring your night down. Think about how your friends interact. Will someone be left out? Will someone annoy someone else? Do your friends know each other? Are they social? Do they share common interests?
  • If you are under the age of 21, do not serve alcohol (in the United States; the drinking age is different abroad). Your party could be busted which means you would get in trouble with the police, your parents, and your friend's parents. Your friends would be in trouble with their parents, too.

Article Info

Categories: Event and Party Planning