You may have seen the first post in the Party Primer Series, and if not, make sure to go check it out – Why Have a Dinner Party? This series is designed to help you become an expert entertainer and event host. Whether you’ve never thrown a party before and have no idea where to start or you’re a party planning veteran just looking for new tips and ideas, I hope this series helps you. If you have questions about the topics we discuss, or want to know about things I haven’t covered, leave a comment or e-mail me and I’ll send you the answer!
When I first began hosting events, I didn’t know where to start. I figured as long as you had friends and food you had a party. And while that is technically true, I’ve gone through quite a bit of trial and error and learned a lot since then. Still, I find myself surprised that after each event I am left with a few new ideas for my bag of tricks.
One of the most important things I’ve found is that laying a good foundation with a few key pieces of information will make the rest of the party planning process run smoothly and can really make or break an event. You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, right? So make sure you don’t start to plan a party before answering these key questions.
Why are you having a party?
This may be an obvious answer like a birthday party or bridal shower. Maybe you want to invite your friends to meet your new boyfriend or girlfriend, or maybe an old college friend has returned from backpacking abroad for a year. Or maybe you just want something to look forward to after a long workweek. “Just Because” is always a good reason for a party – in fact, there is no right answer to this question, its only important that you know why you’re having the party as you begin to answer the next questions.
What is your timeline?
Knowing how much time you have to plan the event will help determine just what you can do with the event. Sure its possible to plan a surprise birthday bash complete with 200 guests and an amazing live band on just a few days notice, but its much more realistic to have at least a month or two to pull off something like that. On the other hand, it’s entirely realistic to plan a fabulous dinner party in just a day or two and you probably don’t want to start bugging your friends about coming to your awesome Superbowl party when its only November.
What is your budget?
As with the timeline, your budget is going to determine where you’re able to take the party. Of course its going to be easier to plan a huge bash with a big budget, but you just may be surprised how far a small budget can stretch with the right plans. I’ve thrown many a dinner party on $50 (or less!) so don’t be scared off by this question. Whatever your budget is, I know we can make it work.
Who are you going to invite?
Sometimes this is influenced by your budget, and sometimes it’s the other way around. It won’t be hard to throw a party for 8 guests with $100, but it maybe a struggle (but not impossible!) to throw a party for 50. Sometimes this question is answered as soon as you know why you’re having the party. If you’re throwing a wedding shower, the bride will probably give you a list of who needs to be invited and it may or may not be negotiable. If the guest list is in your hands though, think about your budget and how many people you can include without sacrificing your ideas for the party and go from there. Always be prepared for a few unexpected guests too! The standard rule to be prepared for about 10% over, just in case, but with smaller events you’re probably safe as long as you could accommodate 2-3 extra people.
I hope this information gives you a good starting place. If you haven’t hosted many parties, this may seem like a lot of information to consider. Don’t worry, we’ll talk a lot more about these questions in the next few installments of “Party Primer”. As always, leave a comment if you have any more specific questions about what I’ve covered here.