The Diva's Guide: 7 Tips For Hosting A Great Party


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Planning a party? As an events planner, I’m already fickle as it is when it comes down to the planning process. So I have decided to share a few tips with you all on the process. It may sound simple – but believe me – it’s effective. The sad part is that most of us ‘know’ this but ‘don’t apply it’ when we have to get around to planning a party.


1. Location & Site Visit.

  • Always go and visit the venue for your party - doesn’t matter if it’s a 5-star hotel; a banquet hall or your grandmother’s country house. The location tends to determine how many people will attend the party. The closer you are to home – the more people are likely to turn up. The further out the party – it’s a more a selected bunch of mates that will show.

  • Sketch out a map if the venue is not well-known. I drew out a map using the paint program and used it for my party last year. Or download a map from the venue website and send it to your friends. Email it, or put it up on a Facebook invite.

  • Take note of full address with landmarks (in case people call for directions).

  • For venues that are on the outskirts of the city
    • Time the drive so that guests know what to expect.
    • Use a sign board or placard if possible. I printed 3 signs on T-stands to help my guests with directions.
    • Take pictures of landmarks and post them on your FB invite, e-vite, or email to your friends, so that they know what landmarks to watch out for.



2. Invitation.

  • A proper card invite is a No-No unless it’s big occasion i.e. wedding, anniversary, etc. If you have the budgets – go for it. If it’s not necessary – skip it. Make sure you give your guests at least 2 weeks heads-up that you’re having a party.

  • E-vites are IN! There are quite a few websites that one can use to create customized e-vites. And if you are feeling creative – then use Photoshop (even the basic Paint or PowerPoint program for the novices) to create something of your choice. Here’s what I made for my birthday party! :)

  • SMS. Small or large party – a text message is sufficient for close friends.

  • Facebook E-vite. Almost everyone uses FB and with its ‘create an event’ feature – organizing a party becomes very simple as you can get quite a good estimate on the head count.
    • You can post the landmark photos; maps in the event page.
    • Guests can post their queries; inform you of what they are bringing etc., so makes your life a lot simpler!



3. Your Guests Will Be Hungry!

  • Is food going to be served? How is it being served? Who is organizing food? Caterer or No Caterer: that is the question. Do you have a budget for food? That ought to determine what you should do.

  • If the party is at home or at a private venue (not a hotel or banquet), then you could make quite a few easy and filling dishes yourself. My aunt hosted an engagement party for her friends’ daughter – here’s what the buffet was like.

  • Or just tell everyone that it’s a pot-luck party and to bring a dish along.
    • Of course – don’t rely on everyone to do that. Select a handful of close friends who will definitely be there for the party and assign them some dishes to bring.
    • Last BBQ I went to a semi-pot luck party. Check out the dishes on the table.
    • Easy dishes for DIY parties : Potato salad, Caesar salad, mixed fruit salad, pasta salad, spaghetti in tomato, cream or pesto sauce, sour cream dips, pita breads, olive & cheese sticks, corn on the cob, grilled chicken.



4. Booze & Drinks.

  • Every party needs drinks and if you mess that part up – you’re going to have some cranky guests on hand. Get your close mates together and figure out what the general group that’s being invited drinks.

  • Minimum Quantities for a party of 30-50 pax:
    • Vodka x 10-12
    • Whiskey x 5
    • White Rum x 5
    • Dark Rum x 2
    • Gin x 1
    • Red & White Wine x 12; and
    • 3 cases of Beer.
    • If you and your friends like to do shots – hook up some Tequila (x 2) or Sambuca (x 2).
    • Remember - it's better to have MORE than to have LESS!

  • Mixers & Sodas :
    • 8 x Orange Juice;
    • 8 x Cranberry;
    • 8 x Mixed Juice;
    • 2 x Lychee;
    • 10 x 2 litre Cokes;
    • 5 x 2 litre Sprite;
    • 1 x case Soda (24) ;
    • 12 x tonic water;
    • 1 x case of 1 litre mineral water

  • Bartenders. If you have the budget – hire them! That’s one headache that you can be rid off.
    • They know just how to utilize the booze and can come up with some great cocktails to be served.
    • Most agencies for bartenders also provide glasses, garnishes, and bring along all the shakers etc.
    • They can also advise you how many bottles you require depending on the number of guests.

  • BYOB. For any private party that you are hosting – there’s no harm in suggesting to your guests to bring a bottle with them. Every bottle counts. If you have 5 close friends who you can count on to bring a bottle each – that’s 5 less bottles that you need to stress about organizing.



5. Music.

  • Fancy yourself as a DJ? Got friends who have killer tunes? Any friends who DJ? Music is the essence of any good party.

  • The problem with DIY music is that you have to make sure you have a basic sound system with good enough speakers; a good selection of music or if you are an i-pod user, then the i-pod speakers and a place to keep it on charge for the duration of the party.

  • I always recommend getting a DJ (I’m an events planner what else can you expect) and once again this year – I booked myself a DJ who came down with his sound and speakers as well as lights for the evening part of the party.

  • If you’re having a house party – and have surround sound on your TV – cheat a little - hook up a hard drive with music to the TV and play your tunes from there.



6. The Guest List.

  • The key to being a great host is to look back on all the invitations you have ever received for a party and make sure to include them on your party list. What if it’s too many people? It doesn’t matter. Always reciprocate to the people who have invited you. They may or may not turn up but at least you’ve covered yourself.

  • Business & Pleasure. Hmmm this one is tricky. I find it slightly awkward inviting work friends / clients and social friends to the same party. It really depends on your relationship with them. General rule of thumb – don’t invite the work mates or clients unless you are already a part of the same general social circle!

  • Mix-It-Up. Make sure you’re calling people who know how to have a good time regardless of the situation. The last thing you need is a bunch of people complaining. Call people who can mingle with others even if they don’t know them.



7. Make lots of Lists.

  • Chalk down the things that you need – and mull it over with a mate. Better yet – I swear – ask your mom. She’ll be able to tell you something that you’ve forgotten.

  • Guest list. Names of all guests & potential adder-on’s with them.

  • Who’s bringing what. Nothing wrong with selecting a handful of close friends and assigning them responsibilities.

  • Budget Sheet. Keep track of what you are spending and how much you are spending. Looking at this sheet will help you either cut down on some expenses or spread the load amongst close friends or at least figure out a few deals.

  • Who can help. You’d be surprised at the wealth of info & contacts that you have amongst your friends circle. Someone might know a good caterer, or DJ, or an alcohol supplier. Don’t be afraid to ask for contacts. It’s all about saving where you can.



So there you go… straight from the event planner herself... my 7 must-do’s for a great DIY party!

Picture Credits: Google Images



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