Step 1: Set the Date
Before anything else, set the date. Guests don’t necessarily need advance notice about the venue or the party menu. What they do need to know is what date to block on their calendars. This is particularly important for those needing to make travel plans to get to the event. At a minimum, set a 6-week window between sending invitations and having your party.3
- Simple steps to setting the date:
- Ask the birthday honoree what the ideal party date(s) might be. This does not apply to a surprise party. In that case, ask their closest friends to help set the date.
- Consult with any VIPS, such as friends or family, to make sure that they can attend.
- Push the party date to a weekend night if the birthday falls on an inconvenient weeknight. More people will be able to attend on a Friday night than on a Tuesday night. Guests will also be in better spirits on the weekend.
- Pick the final date.
Step 2: Personalize the Party
- Does your guest of honor like to cut loose and dance all night long or would an elegant cocktail and dinner party be a better fit? Think about what kind of celebration suits the birthday person’s personality. Throw the type of party that your friend would like best. Here are some popular party ideas:
- Have a barbecue for a friend who loves to spend time outdoors in the afternoon. Fire up the grill!
- Host a lovely dinner party
- Host a wine and cheese tasting party for a friend who adores good food and great wine.
- Throw a dance party for the non-stop party person.
- Pick a theme for your party. Choose from the numerous party theme options available: a ’60s or an ’80s party, a luau or a casino party.
- Customize a theme party for your imaginative friend: a bloody theme for the one who’s obsessed with Dexter, a sexy theme for the Desperate Housewives fan, or anAmerican Idol-themed karaoke party for the would-be singer.4
- Plan a special group birthday gift. If there is anything pricey that the birthday guy or girl is saving up for, such as a vacation or a new bedroom set, ask everyone to contribute to a monetary group gift.
Step 3: Invite Guests
Build the guest list
Guests can make or break a party, so invite an interesting mix of people who know how to have a good time.5
- Decide how many guests the party location and party budget can accommodate.
- Make a list of the honoree’s close friends and family.
- Consult with the honoree to make sure you haven’t missed anyone or if there is someone you have included that might make others uncomfortable.
- For additional guests, consider personality:
– Invite people who will fuel conversation and burn up the dance floor.
– Invite exciting new friends and interesting personalities. That might include anyone the birthday boy or girl has been spending time with or talking about lately.
– Don’t invite drama queens or the birthday honoree’s unfavorite people, even if they are friends with the other guests.
5. Gather contact information (including e-mail) for everyone on the list.
6. Check your list. Ask the honoree’s friends to double check the list for missing VIPs.
- Whether you’re sending paper party invitations through the US mail or an e-Vite, get the word out early. Great party people can be in high demand. Remember, the earlier you send out the invitations, the better your turnout will be.
- Invitation Details:
- Name of birthday boy or girl
- Address and directions to party location
- Date and time
- Contact name and phone number
- RSVP deadline
- Additional instructions for gifting, BYOB requests, or plus ones
- You don’t want to spend $500 on food and drinks when only 10 people are able to attend the party. Keep a close watch on your RSVPs as they arrive, and and plan your party around the number you receive.
- Keep a paper or a spreadsheet near computer or phone.
- Make a list of confirmed guests as RSVPs arrive.
- Tally number of guests who will attend.
- Use this count to plan your budget and menu.
Step 4: Plan the Menu
- Here’s how to keep your guests fed and happy until the end of the party:
Tips for Planning a Party Menu
- Keep it simple: It’s okay to serve an elaborate dish or two, but keep in mind the size of the party and all of the other things you have to prepare.
- Asses your skills: Be honest with yourself about your culinary skill level. Save thesouffle for a rainy day.
- Ask for help: If you feel overwhelmed in the kitchen, enlist a friend or two to help you cook. Treat them to a nice bottle of wine.
- Pick favorites: Consider the guest of honor’s favorite foods, but plan a menu that suits the type of party you’re throwing.6
Sample Menus for Different Types of Parties
- Dinner Party
- Serve cocktail snacks and sit-down entrees:
- Appetizer: Baked brie]]7
- Entree: Cornish game hen or rack of lamb
- Sides: Mashed potato and butter bean cakes with green onions or butter-and-herb roasted red onions.
- Dance Party
- Serve finger foods, but keep it light:
- Fresh cut veggies with ranch and blue cheese dressing
- Artichoke and spinach dip with tortilla chips or crackers
- Chicken tenders with honey mustard dressing
- Mini frittatas
- Serve grilled meat, veggies and hearty sides:
- Appetizer: Feta and pepper dip
- Entrees: Grilled steak or grilled chicken marinated with a barbecue rub
- Sides: Grilled vegetables, macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole
- If you’ve got a few extra dollars to spend and cooking isn’t your thing, cater the party:
Step 5: Drinks
Set up your home bar with a variety of liquors and mixers and beer and wine. Many people don’t drink alcohol, so provide plenty of soda and juice.
- Ideal Liquor Selection:
- Mixers and Non-Alcoholic Beverages:
- Cola, diet cola, ginger ale, soda water, tonic water and a variety of juices (cranberry, orange, pineapple, grapefruit).
- Don’t Forget Beverage Paraphernalia
- Glasses or plastic cups
- Plenty of Ice
- Beer and soda tubs
- Corkscrew, bottle opener and ice tongs
TIP: Budget too tight for a full liquor selection? You can cut costs by preparing pitchers of alcoholic beverages that only require one or two liquors, such as margaritas, and serve them alongside beer and wine.
Step 6: Birthday Cake
Even grown ups should make a wish before blowing out the candles. Don’t forget to take pictures!
- Whether you bake a [[|birthday cake]] or buy one, choose the birthday boy or girl’s favorite flavor.
- Cake recipes:
- Frosting recipes:
- If you buy a cake, order the cake from a great bakery or local grocery store at least a few days before the party. Tell them:
- What type of cake you want.
- The number of people it should serve.
- The name of the guest of honor.
- The age of the birthday “boy” or “girl”.
Step 7: Entertainment
Hire Apixture Photo booth. Exceptional entertainment for your guest all night long. Capturing the moment with pictures.
- If you’ve done a good job with the guest list, your party will be buzzing with conversation and laughter. Great entertainment will enhance the occasion, mix up the crowd and ensure that the party remains dynamic and interesting throughout the night.
- Play great music
- Before the party, scour the guest of honor’s CD collection, iPod, and Facebook pages for their favorite music. Play songs from their favorite bands throughout the night.
- Start and end the party with mellow background music.
- Mix up a variety of genres and decades, from disco and ’80s to hip-hop and classicand modern rock.
- Encourage Dancing
- If you don’t have a decent stereo, rent a karaoke machine and sound system.
- Purchase disco-themed decorations] at a party store.
- Clear furniture out of one room to make a dance floor.
- Get out on the dance floor and set a good example.
- Play Party Games
- Keep some party game ideas in your back pocket to pull out if and when the party slows down.
Execute the Party Plan
- You’ve got all of the party details planned out. Now, it’s time to put the plan in to action. As the date approaches, follow these simple steps to make sure that your party goes off without a hitch.
A Few Days Before Party
- Prepare your home to maximize the comfort of your guests and to ensure the smooth flow of party events.
One Day Before Party
- Double check your list of ingredients and buy perishable groceries.
- Prepare any dishes that you can today.
- Purchase or bake birthday cake.
- Send out an e-mail reminder to all guests and field queries from guests.
The Day of the Party
- Wake up early to give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
- Tidy up your home.
- Arrange furniture for the party and set up the bar.
- Set up party decorations.
- Set out fresh flowers as an option.
- Prepare appetizers and entrees.
One Hour Before Party
- Shower and get dressed.
- Stock the bar with ice.
- Set out appetizers.
- Pour yourself a drink.
- Relax and receive guests.
- You’ve gone the extra mile to put on a birthday party for a special person in your life. It’s time to enjoy the party you created. A great party requires a great party host, so be active with your guests.
- Introduce all guests.
- Keep appetizer plates full and drinks refreshed.
- Initiate entertainment, such as dancing or games.
- Set aside time to sing “Happy Birthday” and open presents.
- Make sure that everyone gets home safely. Don’t let anyone drive drunk!
- No one ever said that getting older was going to be a lot of fun. Many adults are content to let their birthdays pass by unnoticed. But, if you plan a great birthday for an adult in your life, the guest of honor will feel like a kid again!