Fête, partito, juhla and fiesta! They all mean one thing, PARTY! Everyone wants to be known for
throwing great parties and creating lasting, fun memories with their friends and family.
Which is why it is so surprising when you attend a soiree that the hostess has talked about for
weeks, only to discover that she’s opened a bag of chips and bought a 12 pack of Bud. Lame! By
following just a few simple steps, your party will be talked about for months to come!

1. Planning- This one should go without saying, but a lot of people fail to give their party any
thought. No, opening a bag a chips and a can of bean dip isn’t acceptable. There are a few things you
need to know in order to move forward.
1. How many people are coming
2. What time of day? Should you be serving a full meal or will snack food be OK? How long
will it last?
3. How much food do you need so that everyone can have something?
4. Do you know of any food allergies your guests have?
5. Are there children coming?
6. Should you have both non-alcoholic and alcoholic options?
7. Do you have enough seating options or should you rent more?
8. Where should you put the food?
9. Where should you put the beverages?
10. What do you want the flow of the party to be and how should you arrange the room for

2. Décor- Every great party has a theme and I don’t mean princesses or togas. When I say theme, I
am talking about colors, food, and the overall feel that you want your guests to have. The way you’d
decorate for a girl’s night is very different from a couple’s dinner party. It is essential that you pick
a main color with an accent color to make everything look streamlined. You don’t have to go
overboard, but having a clear color choice will make it simple. You can do plastic tablecloths for
picnics or food tables, cloth for dinner parties with candles. As for your food choices regarding
theme, make sure that all of your menu items make sense together. You wouldn’t want to do
hummus with tacos, or cookies with guacamole dip.

3. Menu- Your menu type will depend on the time of your party. You should do something that will
be considered a full meal if your party starts around popular meal times. For example, I’ve been to
parties that start at 6:00pm and only had finger snacks like nuts and chips. Sorry, but I could eat
the whole bag of chips and not feel like I had a meal.

For a meal, try to choose between 1-2 snack items that people can munch on when they arrive.  
Like a cheese plate or veggie tray.  The meal should have a main protein and 2 sides.  Always include
a vegetarian option if you need one.  Don’t forget dessert! I like to give 2 options, but make sure that
they are small(think bite sized) so that guests can have both without feeling like a pig.

Here’s an example menu:
Bacon wrapped dates
Caesar Salad
Crockpot Meatballs in marinara, side of provolone slices and hoagie rolls (to make meatball
Pasta with side of marinara for your non-meat eater friends
Mini-brownie bites
Mini vanilla cupcakes

If you are throwing a party after lunch or dinnertime you can have an assortment of appetizers for
people to graze on throughout the night, so try to stay away from things that need to stay hot or cold.

Here’s an example menu:
Veggie Tray
Fruit Tray
Hummus with pita
Cheese plate with crackers
Mixed nuts
Mini-chocolate mousse
Oatmeal cookies

4. Cocktails/ Beverages- As with the food menu, your drinks should make sense with what going on
with the type of party and the food choices. Keep in mind limitations for some guests- like a gluten
allergy; don’t only have beer- and their tastes. For example, at our wedding we served a viognier
instead of the typical chardonnay as the white wine option. A viognier doesn’t taste anything like a
chardonnay so it threw a lot of people and the bartenders got complaints. Having to do it again I
would have offered a chardonnay, even though neither of us drink it, so that our guests would have
what they wanted. TIP: Buy a  boxed wine- Bota Box and Black Box are good, then pour the wine
into serving carafes for the party and refill as needed. No one will know that you saved some cash
on serving a boxed wine and because you’re serving it in something nice it will seem like a fancy

For porch parties, think of doing a large batch cocktail or something that can be both served sans
the booze or guests can add their own liqueur to it. Like a Sweet Tea, then have a bottle of Lemon
vodka next to it so they can spike their own. It saves you time to do things this way.  

One of my other favorite ways of serving specialty cocktails without having to take my time at the
party to make one for every person who wants one, is to pre-make them and put them into mason
jars. All the guest needs to do is add ice and viola! They have a specialty cocktail without having to
pull you away from enjoying your party.

5. Entertaining- There really is an art to entertaining. You want to be able to connect with each of
your guests, but also not seem like you are obligated to chat with them. It is always a good idea to
great people as they arrive and offer a drink and have a meaningful chat before moving onto the
next person. If possible you should have some games or other entertainment planned out. Maybe
you have Cards Against Humanity on hand if the party starts to slump, or you’ve hired a small jazz
band from the local college for your wine tasting party. The ideas are limitless for what you can
pair with your party.

6. Children- If you are kid free but have friends with kids and are throwing a party it is important to
let them know if kids will be welcome at this event or if it will be geared towards adults only. If you
do have them bring their kids, it is really helpful that you have games and activities planned out for
them. I also like to have a space prepared just for the kids so that they are not running all over my
house and I can keep their mess somewhat contained to an area. For example, for a Christmas Party
set up a table in a spare room with a gingerbread house and tons of candy for each child to decorate.
Be sure to have enough preventative plastic covering for the space to easily be picked up and to not
worry about sticky fingers everywhere. For a summer party, buy a piñata and give the kids some
ziplock bags and let them go to town. Not only will the children feel like they are a part of the party,
but it lets them and the parents know that you want all of your guests to feel special and have fun at
your party.

7. Introductions- If you have friends from different areas of your life that haven’t met yet, it’s
important to make those introductions. You know both of these people so you will be able to
introduce them to each other with a note about something they both have in common. Its especially
important to introduce the people who come solo to so that they don’t 1.) feel totally uncomfortable
and stand in the corner the whole night or 2.) they don’t monopolize all of your time because they
don’t know anyone else.

8. Ending the Party- If your like me, my friends will stay until the sun comes up if I let them so how
can you end the party so you can go to bed?
Subtle cues should help, like starting to pick up and put things away. You can also probably get them
to help you do this. Switch your cocktail to water, stop offering them more food/drinks, change into
your PJ’s and finally, just tell them that you are going to bed and thanks so much for coming.

If you keep these eight key steps in mind when you are planning your next party, bridal shower,
baby shower, wine tasting, or wedding it will go smoothly and look fantastic and people will be
talking about it for months or maybe even years to come.

“Party on, Wayne!” –Wayne’s World

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