Parties should always be fun and are worth the experience if people enjoy themselves.
A party usually costs more than you’d expect, unless you’re creative.
Match the venue with the types of people you’re inviting.
Announce the party as soon as possible.
Track who you’ve invited.
Set a fun theme, and reinforce it with decorations.
Prepare thoroughly for it the days beforehand.
At the party introduce people to each other, have fun activities, and make sure to have fun!
Why throw a party?
You can succeed at a party, even with very little skill, if you’re generally satisfied with life, somewhat organized enough to take advantage of a venue, have some skill at defusing major group conflicts, and (if it’s a large party) can direct people.
To keep everyone happy, you only need to ensure there are enough seats for everyone (though you can often improvise) and to never run out of food.
Clarify your expectations by asking probing questions:
- What is your budget and what matters the most to you?
- Is the event invite-only or should guests bring their friends?
- What kind of people are your friends?
- Are you serving alcohol?
- Can or should others bring alcohol, food or drinks as well?
The culture of the people you’ve invited should match the venue.
Make sure the venue can store all the food:
- Pay special attention to anything that need refrigeration.
- Plan ahead for the inevitable leftovers.
Space the seats apart to give professional distance or put them close together to foster intimate conversations.
You only need to know that you’re definitely planning on a party and a date to announce it.
As soon as you can, advertise the date, time, ending time, venue, and any requirements (e.g, attire, what to bring).
Announce the party as quickly as possible for people to schedule for it.
If the party requires preparation, set the date at least two weeks away.
Include activities that might interest the guests in your promotion.
Consider the physical and legal limits of your venue:
- Examine locals laws for noise pollution and maximum occupancy.
- People don’t need much space but do need room to move around.
- If you’re playing music worth dancing to, people will need a designated dance area or more room in general.
If you’re not careful, you may offend some friends and family who weren’t invited, so use a mind-map to associate the relationships between guests for tough decisions.
Not everyone you invite will attend:
- If you or the type of event is popular (e.g., a wedding), about 70-80% of your guests will attend, but often not at the same time.
- It’s about a 50% chance that people you know will go if they say they will on social media.
- If something else is going on that day, expect less people to show up.
The larger the party, the more unpredictable and fun it can be, and you should invite (or at least inform) your neighbors if the event will have more than 12 attendees.
If you use an RSVP system, expect most people to respond only a few days before the event or early deadline.
If you have an entrance fee, have a plan for the people who still show up but won’t pay.
People often find themes interesting:
- The theme is one of the most fun ways to exercise your creativity.
- Get a powerful enough projector for a group to play video games or watch movies.
- Have a costume party or a dinner theater.
- Use your friends’ talents to make creative and exciting games or decorations.
- Even in a professional party, you can still be silly as long as it’s subdued.
Find music that fits the theme:
- The music should match mood you want and the attendees’ culture.
- Always make a playlist with a few criteria:
- Mostly upbeat and energetic music, with at least a few songs that everyone knows.
- Carefully consider everyone’s ages to decide which songs would be familiar to them.
- Each song’s BPM is a fraction of the next (e.g., go from 100 BPM to 120 BPM to 60 BPM).
- You can usually use DJ software to seamlessly shift the tempo near the end of the song.
- The tempo slows down about once every 20-30 minutes to let everyone relax.
- The last song is very memorable.
- Mostly upbeat and energetic music, with at least a few songs that everyone knows.
Find artistic friends willing to help.
Find fun ways to display your food:
- Make transparent ice by boiling water before freezing it.
- Turn a pumpkin or watermelon into a drink dispenser by carving it out, cutting a hole in it, and inserting a spigot.
- Carve out a watermelon to make a fruit bowl.
- Put a glass bowl inside a hollowed-out pumpkin to make a drink cooler.
- Tonic water has quinine, which glows in the dark with a blacklight.
- Serve apple cider in cut-out insides of apples, stir with cinnamon sticks.
- Glue wood paneling on the outside of an old refrigerator and rotate the compressor 90 degrees to turn it into an ice chest.
- Pour chocolate over a filled balloon while holding a bowl under to catch the drips, turn upside down after it’s dried and deflate the balloon, then fill with strawberries.
- Serve condiments in a muffin tray.
- Make a serving tray from peppermints by baking peppermints in rows for ten minutes.
Make food look fun:
- Make decorative hard boiled eggs by cracking them lightly with a spoon, pouring dye on and then rinsing with water.
- Fill condiment bottles with icing to decorate cookies and cakes or set it out for the guests to do it.
- Use the bottom portion of an empty 2-liter bottle to make flavored ice that looks like a flower.
- Cut ice cream through the paper container with a knife for easier serving.
Make decorations that match the occasion:
- All seasons
- Put a glow stick in a balloon.
- Cut open a glow stick and shake the contents into a glass jar, add diamond glitter, seal the top of the lid and shake.
- At night, throw glow sticks into a pool or put white Christmas lights around the inside edge of the pool.
- Stake balloons to the ground with golf tees.
- Spray glow-in-the-dark paint on rocks and line a walkway.
- Turn an empty can into a Chinese lamp by cutting slits along the sides of it, pushing the ends together to fan it out, and removing the labeling.
- Apply Rain X in a design to make an image or text that only shows up when it’s wet outside.
- Cut a rose stem into four vertical stalks and soak each part into a different food dye to make a rainbow pattern.
- Make a homemade Tiki Torch by sticking a shoelace into an alcohol bottle, then sealing it up with the lace sticking out.
- Tape differently colored glow sticks to your ceiling fan and turn it on.
- Cold weather
- Fill balloons up with water and food coloring, freeze, then cut the balloons off to make giant marbles.
- To make creepy-looking ice, put a frozen rubber glove in water with red food coloring and freeze.
- Make “night eyes” by cutting eyes into toilet paper rolls and putting glow sticks into them.
- To make decorations that look like faces, draw faces on upside down plastic cups and put LED tealights under them.
- Halloween pumpkins can be carved out and cut in half to be a drink cooler.
- Make Jack-o-Lantern Cheeseburgers by putting hamburger patties onto a bottom bun, then cutting out American cheese into Jack-o-Lantern faces.
- Make spider cookies by drawing legs with a toothpick on cookies while the chocolate chips are still warm.
Prepare your pool:
- Make a pool by placing bales of hay around a flat area, dropping a waterproof tarp over the bales to the ground, securing the tarp with rope, and filling it with water.
- Throw a tennis ball in to pick up oils in the pool.
- Heat a pool by putting black trash bags over hula hoops and throwing them in.
- Tape pool noodles to the outside of a plastic container or string it around with rope to make a pool cooler.
- Tape pool noodles to the edge of a board to have a floating drink table or beer pong table.
- Float a children’s pool inside a full-sized pool.
Days before the party
Get your non-perishable food and decorations a week before the event:
- Buy all the food and drinks you’ll need in bulk.
- Have a plan for extra food, and only buy food you can eat for a week straight after the party (just in case).
- Borrow, rent or buy utensils and dining pieces you still need.
- Arrange your music playlist.
Make a list of the least sociable people who might come to your party.
You can reduce a bit of stress by cleaning your house a few days in advance instead of the day before.
The day before the party, set up every decoration and prepare all the food in advance.
Put markers next to disposable cups and attach different-colored rubber bands to bottoms of wine glasses to help people keep track of their drinks.
Since your mood and mental state determine how much people enjoy themselves, relax and have fun the day before the event.
At the party
Parties should cycle between everyone engaging and relaxing (where they’re constantly interested but not worn out).
Provoke people to interact more:
- Introduce people with each other:
- Find the most reclusive person in your party and consider what they like (e.g., their career, hobbies, talents).
- Ask them to come with you.
- Introduce them to someone else you know who would likely find that aspect of them interesting or useful.
- e.g., “Mark, I’d like you to meet Tim. He likes Star Wars, and you were telling me how you were getting into it, so I figured you’d both have something in common!”
- To provoke more discussion, place a basket at the door and require people to put their phones in it.
- If you’re with younger people, have everyone at the door grab a glow stick (Green = single, Yellow = it’s complicated, Red = taken).
- Make an icebreaker game where people must learn about someone they don’t know and recite who they are.
- Run a rope through the bottom of a tissue paper box and fill with ping pong balls, have someone wear it on his or her backside and time someone shaking all the ping pong balls out.
- Have one person coat their face with shaving cream and others have to throw cheese balls onto it.
- Load a pinata with candy.
If you’re bringing alcohol, include drinking games:
- Many people are familiar with beer pong.
- Play chess or checkers with shot glasses, a pizza box, and markers.
- Make the ultimate Beer Pong table by cutting holes in a board.
- Make “Beer Battleship” by cutting out foam ships with cup holders as the slots and playing a regular Battleship game next to it.
- Play chess with a checkered tile floor and drink cups.
- If the event is on your front lawn, place a sign that says YOU HONK WE DRINK.
- Play spin the bottle with shots where some of them aren’t alcoholic.
Throwing a party does require some trial-and-error, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t succeed, and simply try again later.
Make sure to have lots of fun!