What makes a good party?

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A good – and memorable – party is that elusive mix of food, drink, guests and music that adds up to an atmosphere where everyone is having fun.

Make your next party one to remember with our party planning tips, which will ensure the run up won’t leave you too stressed to enjoy the event!

How do you organise a party?

Organisation is crucial to a successful party or event. Our expert advice for holding a party at home will make your pre-party preparation a breeze.

3 weeks before the party:

  1. Compile your guest list – your numbers will depend on the event, but, as an example, if you are holding a cocktail party, invite 20% more people than you can accommodate, to allow for no-shows
  2. Decide on a party theme – you can then start to choose decorations, props and costumes or dress code
  3. Send your invitations – whether post, email or telephone, now is the time to invite your guests to your event
  4. Plan your menu – choose your food and drink based on your party theme, the time of your event and the age of your guests. For example, if you are holding a children’s party, you won’t need to have any alcoholic drinks at your event
  5. Organise any help – depending on the size of your event, you may need waiting staff or bar staff, specialist staff to oversee games or manage a photo booth, or you may just need some help to clear up after the event. Now is the time to get those extra pairs of hands on board

2 weeks before the party:

  1. Ensure you have plenty of glasses and plates – if you need extra to accommodate all your guests, you can hire them from a number of supermarkets and department stores, which will save you the expense of having to buy them
  2. Create your playlist – theme your playlist to your party and make sure it is long enough to last for the entirety of your event
  3. Shopping – if you are catering the party yourself, do a first food and drink shop. Prepare and cook any food that can be frozen

1 week before the party:

  1. Clean the house thoroughly – this will ensure you only need to give it a quick once over the day before the party
  2. Arrange your furniture – ensure you have sufficient seating and side tables for guests to place plates and glasses. Remove anything precious or breakable such as ornaments and vases
  3. Plan your lighting – if you are holding an evening event, consider low lighting or side lights. An outdoor event is set off beautifully by fairy lights or lanterns
  4. Organise your drinks – if you are serving alcohol, allow for three bottles of wine for every four guests, with four cocktails per guest for a three-hour cocktail party. If you are not serving alcohol, ensure you have sufficient soft drinks

2 days before the party:

  1. Notify your neighbours – let them know you’re having a party, what time it will start and what time you expect it to finish. Why not invite them along to the event?
  2. Decorate –  put up your decorations and, if applicable, change your lighting
  3. Choose where guests should leave their coats – a designated bedroom could function as a cloakroom, or you could place a coat rack or clothes rail in your entrance hall if you have sufficient space
  4. Finalise your shopping – buy any final food or drink

The day before the party:

  1. Set the tables – if you are hosting a sit down dinner, lay out your place settings and any table decorations. If you are hosting a buffet, set out your plates, glasses, cutlery and any serving dishes
  2. Finish cooking – prepare and cook any last minute dishes  
  3. Give your house a once-over – a quick clean and tidy will ensure your home is looking its best

On the day of the party:

  1. Set out any seating – place chairs at intervals should guests need them. Don’t worry about having enough seating for everyone, as this will encourage people to mingle  
  2. Display your food and drinks – if you are holding a buffet, place any fresh or chilled food onto the table  
  3. Greet your guests – all the hard work is done, leaving you free to enjoy your event with your friends and family