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After two summers of limited social contact, I am very much looking forward to some top-notch shindigs where I can let loose, have a good time and feast on tiny sausages and quiches.
If you are the one throwing a party, getting back into the swing of party planning might seem a little intimidating after a year or so of googling pub quiz questions for the latest zoom catchup. If you have an event on the books but aren’t sure how to make it a resounding success, cast your eye over this handy list. Whether you have an intimate affair for close pals or a blowout festival-esque gathering on the cards, these top tips will see you right.
What will there be to eat?
Do you remember all the hullabaloo about Fyre Fest? Ticket holders were promised gourmet meals with a fine dining meets Coachella vibe. Instead, they got a cheese sandwich and some soggy salad leaves. To be fair, a whole lot more went wrong than just the food, but that’s beside the point. Fed guests are happy guests!
First off, make sure your guests have a rough idea of what to expect. If your menu consists of crisps and dip, that is absolutely fine as long as your friends don’t show up ready for a full-on dinner party.
Secondly, you will want to make sure there is enough food to go around. I’ve been told that a good rule of thumb is one pound of food per person, but if you want something a little more specific, check out this guide to feeding groups of people. My only gripe is they suggest three bottles of wine for ten people (they’ve obviously not met my pals).
What will everyone be drinking?
Speaking of drinks, that’s the next thing on my list.
Keeping people fed and watered is the biggest part of party planning in many ways, not to mention the trickiest.
If you are hosting a large event that will have alcohol, my advice is to leave it to the experts. Hire someone to take care of the bar for you. They will have a far better grasp of numbers and the amounts required than you will. Some setups will provide everything from bottles of booze to cocktail napkins, while others may just provide the people power. If the latter is the case, don’t be shy about asking for help on amounts; again, they will know from experience what quantities you need.
If you decide to handle the drinks yourself, my secret tip is to create a ‘signature’ cocktail or two for the event. Yes, it might just be orange juice, peach schnapps and sprite mixed together, but call it Summer Sunshine, put it in a pretty jug, and suddenly it’s Instagram worthy. Not only will it make you look super put together it also means you don’t need to offer any other spirits or have endless mixers on hand.
Do something unforgettable
Some parties are just about mingling and having a drink, and while that’s fine, including an activity or two is a sure-fire way to get people talking and angling for an invite to your next event,
My personal favourites have included a murder mystery over dinner. You can easily buy a kit online that will tell you everything you need to know, including menu suggestions and costume ideas. It’s a great ice breaker for groups that don’t know each other that well but an absolute hoot for families and close friends.
If you are stumped for ideas, take inspiration from childhood birthday parties of old. It’s my firm belief that every adult secretly longs for a game of musical statues and a party bag to take home. Pin the tail on the donkey (or the beard on Santa Claus or ears on the easter bunny) is easy to set up and requires very little maintenance. Think about what other childhood games you could incorporate into the evening. Maybe you want some kind of tossing or obstacle course games, a twister, a challenging labyrinth, or water slides? Think and remember of any game you wanted to play someday and bring them into reality with custom-made giant inflatables to have the real party you dreamed of. These kinds of activities involve almost everyone and bring much fun, and unforgettable memories to anyone.
Bring in the music makers
Music is vital to most parties. Are you the type of person who carefully curated the song list, or do you stick it on random and let fate decide the next tune?
If you are entertaining a large crowd, what about a silent disco? Partygoers get a pair of headphones where they can tune into the hits that different DJs are playing. From the outside, it’s a completely silent group of people literally dancing to their own beat, but on the inside, it’s the ultimate party where there are no bad songs and no yelling to be heard over the music (just remember to take the headphones off of course). I love this idea for events with a wide age group. Kids can be bopping away to the latest pop tunes while granny and grandpa are rocking to the rolling stones.
Let guests make their own music if you are planning a smaller scale get together and have musically talented friends. Encourage people to begin their instruments, and you can have an impromptu live set.
Be a considerate party thrower
Last on my list is to be a mindful party planner.
Give people time to plan for your party by sending out invites with the date and time in a timely fashion. This is especially important if the location will mean travelling is involved or if babysitters need to be found.
Be aware of dietary restrictions, allergies (and personal preferences if it’s a very small event). My heart goes out to vegans who are given a bowl of leaves to eat while everyone else gets a banquet.
And finally, the classic take only memories leave only footprints. Don’t trash the venue or get sticky-fingered (put that pint glass back, you’re not a student anymore).
Now that you’ve got the steps to planning the most amazing party, it’s time to concentrate on the fun parts, plus decide what you are going to wear. Have a fantastic time and don’t forget to send me an invite!
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