Whether it’s a backyard, red dixie cup type of get together or a full-on hosted event, consider these things before planning your own soiree.

Setting up a photo wall
Photo Walls are great ways to ensure your event is “share-worthy.”

Date & Time & Reason

First and foremost you need make sure you are a picking the proper date and time for your event.  This should reflect the type of people that you would like to see at your party.  Let’s say you are in your late 20’s early 30’s.  Chances are you have friends who have kids, have full time careers & other such obligations.  So, your party that kicks off at 11 p.m. on a Thursday night might not be very well attended by those demographics.  This is where you should really decide on your purpose or reason for your party.  Is it an all out adults only birthday bash?  Is it a family oriented event? Is it formal?  Will there be dinner or not?  Once you know what you want to do then make sure the date & time reflect your purpose.

Location

The proper location should be less about looks and more about functionality.  Think about space, size, and accommodations.  Granted, you want a cool location that is attractive and fun but if there is only one bathroom or there isn’t enough seating available, the coolness will be quickly overlooked.  Usually the location is a reflection of your budget but keep in mind that lots of creative people have made less appealing places look fabulous.  So when budgeting and planning for locales, stick to the basic logistics.

Invitations

Once you know when and where, naturally you will be able to start the task of inviting the who of your event.  Your location should drive the size of your invitation list.  We know you are popular and have friends from across the spectrum so let your party reflect that.  Invite multiple generations of people.  There are many advantages to this.  In my experience, older people tend to show up early and leave early.  Younger people usually show up later.  This ensures an equitable flow of guests and keeps the party at a healthy energy level.  Nothing is worse than having your party start at 8 and having an anxiety attack because it is 10 and there are only 3 people.  Also, in your invitations, make your instructions clear if there will be dinner or a cocktail hour scheduled so that guests get a hint that timeliness is important.

Food & Drink

When planning on what to serve at your party, you should consider how much prep time and assistance you will have prior to your event.  This should drive your menu.  Will it be hor d’ oeuvres, buffet style or a sit down plated dinner?  Will you hire staff?  Will everything be self-serve?  Disposable tableware or china? Who is cooking? Parties live and die by being prepared in this arena.  The size of your party, again, should also dictate how you approach your food and drink options.  For self-serve parties, it is often prudent to keep it simple.  Don’t buy all the intricate ingredients for a margarita, for instance.  Rather, rent a margarita machine.  Keep in mind that even margarita machines need refilling and time to prepare the next batch.  If you are having parties with over 50 people, you might want to consider having some hired help.  Staffing your own party with professional, certified staff has become more and more common.  For people who host parties regularly, having staff to keep things tidy, tend the bar and even serve food has proven invaluable to an event’s success.  The prices usually range from 25-45 dollars and hour and many companies often supply clean up,  set-up and break down crews.

Entertainment

Many people skimp on their entertainment budgets.  This is usually due to all the content we have access to through the internet.  That being said, you should still take time to set up proper playlists, make sure your technology is tested and ready, & there are contingency plans in place.  Hooking up your iPod or iPhone to speakers just won’t cut it.  Have the money to hire a DJ?  Do it.  But make sure this person is a professional.  Perhaps you have friends that are in a band.  Is their music something that your guests would enjoy?  If so, work out a deal with your buddies.  Set them up with a nice private lounge space, etc.  Make them feel like rockstars and they will either hook you up for cost or even better, free!  No matter what you decide on entertainment, make sure you have either invested time and/or money into it.  This is one of the most important aspects of your occasion.

Make it Share-worthy!

You should do whatever it takes to make your event something that your guests want to share on their social networks.  This can be accomplished in multiple and often cost effective ways.  Set up a wall that is well lit where guests can pose for photos.  Supply humorous props.  Even better, set up a video camera where guests can share testimonials or otherwise act silly.  Have your guests rotate as DJ.  This provides fodder for social media.  It is important to make sure you get your guests permission before posting.  Other share-worthy examples can be a simple as party themes, interactive games, & ice breakers.  If your friends are dying for clips and pics from your event, then you know it was a success.  Remember, the party is about your guests and their entertainment and if they had fun then your job is done!

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