So you’ve decided to throw a party at your place. Congrats, that’s always an exciting idea! But before planning the playlist, the theme, and the guest list, take a step back.
Hosting friends at home requires some forethought, or you might end up with a less-than-ideal situation. The good news is, with some planning, you can avoid the headaches and throw a get-together people will be talking about for weeks.
Here are eight things to remember when hosting a party at home. Take these to heart, and you’ll be well on your way to being the host with the most.
1. Set a Budget
When planning a party, the budget is one of the most important things to consider. Set a realistic budget and stick to it so you’re not stuck footing the bill for an extravagant affair.
Think about the essential costs for your party, like food, drinks, decorations, and entertainment. For food and beverages, figure about $10-$15 per person. Keep decor simple—balloons, streamers, and candles are cheap but festive.
For music, create a playlist on your phone or streaming service instead of hiring a DJ, and don’t forget about the restroom. If you live in Washington or Oregon, you can check out Sanican American, as this company rents porta-potties to ensure convenient restroom facilities for your guests.
Look for ways to save money, like buying generic or store-brand items, using coupons, or shopping sales. Borrow items from friends like chairs, tables, platters, or utensils.
2. Make a Guest List
The most essential part of any party is the people. Before you start planning, figure out who’s on the guest list.
- Decide how many people you want to invite. A small, intimate group of close friends? A big blowout bash? Keep in mind the capacity of your space.
- Don’t forget the +1s. Specify if guests can bring a date or friend. The more, the merrier, but you need to know the food, drinks, and seating numbers.
- Get the invite out on social media, texts, or emails. Whatever medium you choose, be clear about all essential details like address and date.
- Gently remind guests about a week before the party and ask for a firm RSVP. That way, you know exactly how many people to plan for and avoid crashers
3. Pick a Theme
Picking a theme for your party will help bring all the details together and make planning much easier. A few theme options to consider:
- Seasonal Themes
Celebrate a season like summer or winter. Decorate using seasonal colors, flowers, or other natural elements. Play music that reminds guests of the season. Serve cocktails and foods connected to the duration of a year.
- Color Theme
Choose a vibrant color like red or teal and build your party around it. Use the color in your decorations, linens, flowers, and the attire you suggest for guests. Serve cocktails and snacks that incorporate or complement your chosen color.
- Hobby or Interest Theme
Tailor the theme to a hobby, passion, or interest you share with your guests, like cooking, travel, or gaming. Incorporate related decor, music, activities, or costumes. Get creative with on-theme cocktails and bites.
- Historical Theme
If you’re opting for a historical theme, consider how to incorporate elements like period-specific décor and music to transport guests to another era. For instance, a steampunk costume could add an intriguing twist, blending Victorian aesthetics with industrial elements for a truly unique atmosphere. You could also tie in themed activities or games that reflect the chosen historical period to enhance the overall experience for your guests.
4. Plan the Menu
The menu is one of the most critical parts of any party. As the host, you’ll want to ensure you have various crowd-pleasing options. Provide options for multiple diets and restrictions.
Have meat, seafood, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free choices—label items with ingredients to avoid confusion. A good rule of thumb is to offer 8-12 different options for a 2-3 hour party.
That way, people can graze and go back for seconds to their favorites. Include:
- A couple of hearty dishes (sliders, flatbread pizza, etc.)
- Light bites (bruschetta, cheese board, crudité)
- Salty snacks (chips, nuts, olives)
- Sweet treats (cookies, brownies, fruit skewers)
Keep the menu somewhat cohesive in theme or style. Don’t do sliders, sushi, chili, and crepes at the same party! Stick to finger foods that can be eaten standing up. Avoid anything too messy.
5. Send Invitations
Once you’ve figured out your guest list, it’s time to send out the invites! For a party at home, e-vites or online invitations are perfectly acceptable and convenient.
When designing your e-vites, keep them simple but fun.
Include the key details:
•Your name(s) as host(s)
•Party name or theme
•Date and time
•Location (home address)
Send e-vites 2 to 4 weeks ahead of time for most at-home parties. This gives guests enough notice to save the date, but it is soon enough that they won’t forget! Send a reminder 3 to 5 days before the party.
Double-check that you have the correct contact info, especially emails, for everyone on your list before sending the invites. It’s also a good idea to number your invites when sending them to ensure everyone responds. Make it clear in the invite that guests should RSVP to the number on their invite.
Request that guests RSVP at least 3 to 5 days before the party so you have time to plan. Let people know if they can bring a plus one or if there are any age restrictions.
So there you have it—five essential things to remember as you plan your perfect party. Hosting an event at home allows you to create an intimate space to connect with friends and family, but the key is staying organized and on top of all the details. If you map it all out ahead of time, you’ll enjoy the event with your guests. Focus on the atmosphere, food, drinks, music, activities, timing, seating, and cleanup, and you’ll be raising a glass to celebrate a well-hosted party before you know it.