General Party Planning Tips
Hosting a great party has nothing to do with how you set the table, what food you serve or how good your decorations are. It has everything to do with creating a fun and relaxed atmosphere so that everyone has a good time. The best way to do that is to be well organized; so here are some basic tips to get you there.
Preparation Time Line
3-4 weeks before the party:
- Determine theme/occasion for party
- Establish a budget
- Create a guest list
- Send invitations
- Plan, select and buy decorations
- Plan, select and buy tableware pattern
- Prepare menu and grocery list
- Select and hire caterer/serving help (if needed) or organize friends and family to help
2-3 days before the party:
- Call the guests who have not responded
- Buy groceries and beverages
- Prepare items that can be made in advance
- Order balloon bouquets from Party America
1 day before the party:
- Clean house, party room, or party site
- Set up and arrange party site
- Thaw frozen party foods
- Set out serving pieces
- Coordinate last minute arrangements with caterers/servers or anyone making deliveries such as flowers or balloons
The day of the party:
- Decorate party room
- Prepare and arrange remaining food
- Mentally "travel through" party
- Relax and enjoy!
Choosing a theme for your party can help create a focus when choosing a tableware pattern, invitations, decorations, games/activities, and food. It also helps create a sense of fun and expectation. A tried and true example might be a "back-to-the-fifties" theme for a birthday celebration; or spicing up a graduation party with a Mexican fiesta theme, or taking a simple bridal shower and turning it into a "kitchen" theme.
Creating a Guest List
The real secret to a successful party lies with the guest list, because it's the people who make the party.
How many to invite - Logic says that if the party will be held outdoors or in a large party room a big list is fine; if space is limited, keep the list small to ensure that everyone will be comfortable.
Who to invite - Will it be a get together with friends, a celebration for someone else or a chance to establish a relationship with business associates? In any case, if hosting a small party, mix personalities that complement each other and don't clash. If hosting a large party, clashing personalities are usually not a problem and you have more freedom with your guest list.
Think of the invitation as a sincere compliment telling your guest that their presence is wanted. Think of it also as a calling card to your event. So, the style and look of your invitation, gives the guest a preview to your event. Don't be afraid to personalize it and put in exciting details or teasers to get everyone interested.
Many tableware patterns have matching invitations, or you can create your own, or you can even have custom invitations made just for your event. Below are some information you might want to include:
- Occasion (Birthday, Retirement, Shower, etc.)
- Date and Day
- Starting and Ending Time
- Place (include directions and a map)
- Details/Theme ("Surprise" or "Costume Party")
- Attire (Black Tie, Casual, Beach, Costume)
- RSVP or "the favor of a reply is requested". (To improve response, include more than one phone number, and even an e-mail address.)
Your decorations help create the all important atmosphere for your event. Additionally, think of decorations as giving your party flair, enhancing the mood and lifting the spirits! It is what transforms an ordinary room into another place or time. You might choose a checkered tablecloth for an Italian pasta/pizza dinner or a backyard barbecue; place black balloons around the room for an "over the hill" birthday party; or strategically place candles to create a warm atmosphere. Always pay attention to lighting and consider this to be part of your decorations. Small decorative lights add a wonderful touch to almost any event and are inexpensive and easy to display.
|Tableware Buying Guide |
|Using the general guide below, you will be able to estimate the amount of supplies you will need for your party. Remember a good host never gets caught short! |
|Beverage Napkins (used for drinks, hors d'oeuvres and dessert) |
Cocktail Party...............................4 per person
Dinner Party.................................3 per person
|Luncheon/Dinner Napkins |
Sit Down/Family Style....................1 per person
Buffet..........................................2 per person
|Cutlery/Place Settings |
Dinner Party.................................1 per person
(plus an extra fork or spoon for dessert)
Cocktail Party (forks only)...............2 per person
Buffet..........................................2 per person
|Plastic Cups |
Cocktail/Outdoor Party....................4 per person
Dinner Party..................................2 per person
|Coffee or Hot/Cold Cups |
Cocktail/Buffet Party.......................2 per person
Dinner Party..................................1 per person
Games and Activities
Fun games or activities can really make a party unique. To begin with, they help "break the ice" by getting people to become better acquainted. They also help to liven up a party. If there will be winners, make sure you have prizes.
Entertainment is an alternative to games and activities. Hire a musician, comedian, magician, band, DJ, dancers, or even a local celebrity, to entertain your guests.
Smart Party Tips
- Guest proof the party location (remove breakables, dangerous substances or tools). Move pets to a safe place to protect them and your guests.
- Have an alternate "bad weather" plan for outdoor events. If critters or mosquitoes are a problem, spray the yard and lawn before the party or burn citronella candles. Have mosquito spray on hand.
- If the party is outside, serve drinks in cups rather than cans to keep bees from climbing inside. Also consider paper and plastic rather than glass.
- If serving buffet-style, set up plates at the beginning of the table and place utensils and napkins at the end so no one has to juggle while filling their plate. Also, if you have a lot of people, consider forming two lines, one at each end and working towards the middle.
- Always provide a non-alcoholic version of special beverages for designated drivers and non-drinkers. Have alternate transportation for those who overindulge.
- Use of disposable party supplies enables you to enjoy the party instead of spending time in the kitchen cleaning up.
- Strategically place trash containers around the party room. Clearly mark recycling bins.
Party America has hundreds of tableware patterns covering every party occasion, holiday, milestone or seasonal event, complete with decorations and matching invitations.
You'll find a rainbow of solid color plates, napkins, table covers, and cutlery to mix and match with your party theme.
Our stores carry over 100 mylar balloons in various shapes, sizes and colors, including your favorite licensed characters. The styles are really fantastic and you can create your own balloon bouquets or let us help you create a custom one just for your event. Either have us fill them with helium or inquire about our helium tank rentals.
Print out our Party Checklist.