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Party Planning

Life of the Party

There is nothing like orchestrating the perfect party. When the guests, food, energy and beverages merge together in unified harmony with the ambiance you had in mind. Planning a great party isn't limited to expensive event planning companies, but can be easily managed at home with just a few handy party tips and event planning techniques.

Party Planning 101

At the heart of any event or party is the need to spend time with people to celebrate, entertain or break the ice. In the dynamics of the guest list is often the secret to party planning success. Creating the perfect guest formula is one of the most important party planning secrets. You want a combination of guests that will allow party flow and great energy. If you invite talkers, you need listeners. If you invite "stars" you need fans. There should be balance in your guests, a bit of strategy in the way you place them to facilitate the best energy and some magic in the host/hostess of the party to keep everything moving along.

When planning large parties or events, this strategy can be used at each table to create great energy and conversation dynamics among the guests. Keep in mind the length of the event, the elements each guest may have in common and how the dynamic might progress throughout the night. For some events, you can add conversation pieces to table settings or create "games" to move the energy along.

For children's parties, family celebrations, reunions and other events where the guest list may be less in your control, consider the room design and event agenda as ways to keep the flow of the party moving, the energy positive and each guest comfortable. Part of the role of the host/hostess is to ensure every guest feels welcome and comfortable at the party. So if you see someone stuck in a corner, isolated from the group or "helping" too much, try to intervene and find new ways to engage them with the other guests.

Party Vision and Themes

For professional party planners and event planners, parties and events are often unified with a theme. This allows the party planner to know how to set the tone, the ambiance and the backdrop of the event. It can tie together food, drinks and activities as well as linens, table settings and décor.

If the event is tied to a celebration, occasion or milestone often that will set in place some framework for the party. If it is a children's party, then outdoors may be a better setting. If it is a business dinner, corporate event or company function then a commercial venue may be a better setting. If you are using a commercial venue, consider limo service or hired cars to transport guests to the location.

The theme can easily dwarf the party's purpose if allowed to expand uncontrollably. If you are doing a wedding as a "White Diamond" theme, it is possible to repeat the "diamond" idea too often, losing its power and impact.

If you can incorporate the theme or vision in key elements such as table settings and décor, food and drinks and activities it will create a cohesive party feeling. If you are hiring DJ's, bands or music it is great to have some elements of your theme echoed in the music selections. Don't feel that every note, song and element of the party has to be in the theme. There are elements that may need to stand alone – such as the first dance, gift areas, or celebratory toasts.


For the intimate dinner party, conversation is key. So the music should be softly playing in the background if you chose it.

For the events that include dancing, the music should allow a wide range of participation. In family events, weddings and other large events there may be a significant age range in the guest list, try to embrace all the guests at some point in the event.

If you are hiring professional musicians, Disc Jockeys (DJs), singers, live bands or other professional entertainers, be sure to see them perform, get reference checks and be detailed with them on song selections.

Capture the Moment

Some photographers and videographers have structured plans for the images they plan to capture. Be certain to list critical moments for your event. If it is important to capture the entrance, the toast or the gift opening – talk to the photographer about how you envision that photo or video looking.

Communication is critical with vendors, especially with the images of the events. You will be busy hosting the event and will not have time to manage the professional photographer or videographer during the party. Make a list of key images and review it with them prior to the event.

Children's Parties

Planning children's parties can be challenging. It is often difficult to balance budgets and the "wow" factor you are hoping for to celebrate the special milestones in their lives. If your party is tied to a seasonal holiday like Mardi Gras, Halloween or Christmas it will offer some specific ideas for events and activities. If the event is a milestone celebration such as graduation, bar mitzvah, or birthday the theme and location may be more open.

Check with local attractions, museums, theme parks and restaurants for birthday party packages for children often they will handle all the details. Pool parties and related themes can create "spring break" style events or more casual themes.

Sometime parents become consumed with "bigger" "better" and more costly; keep in mind the idea if for the kids to have fun, spend time together and create lasting memories. This doesn't have to break the bank. "Better" might be a more intimate party with close family and friends doing something special to the birthday child. Look for "trips", "destination parties" and other adventure based options for smaller groups.

Wedding Planning

Professional wedding planners are often used to create the wedding you envision. It is helpful; whether you plan the wedding yourself, or hire the professional event planner to draw out the key elements of the event.

Wedding themes are very popular, giving cohesion to décor, flowers, music and lighting. Using pearls, diamonds or specific flowers as a central theme may be a great start. The location may have great impact on the theme and the elements of the wedding. The more elaborate the venue, the less decoration is required. Keep the style and interests of the bride and groom in mind. If they are casual and laid back the formal setting may not be their style.

Party Goals

Remember the party will take its cue from the host/hostess. If as the hostess, you are relaxed and having fun; that feeling will translate to your guests. Don’t over fuss, don't over fret. Party success is simple. The recipe is great guests, a relaxed host/hostess, great food and drinks and good party movement.

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