Hosting is indeed an art that can be mastered with time, patience, and proper education. Therefore, to throw the most lavish parties, unforgettable holiday dinners, fun family reunions, and summer barbeques, continue reading. Here at the best tips for hosting and entertaining, to make you a master host in no time
Come Up With a Theme
The best events and parties always have a theme, whether you’re doing Roaring 20’s for New Years, or Winter Wonderland for your company Christmas party. Theming gives your party life, structure, and a hint of creativity.
Consider this list of creative and ingenious party themes if you’re feeling stuck trying to single one out.
1. Old School Hollywood
If you love the glitz and glam of old Holywood, this theme is perfect for you. Purchase or rent a projector and screen some timeless black and white classics like Casablanca or a horror film like Hitchcock’s Psycho.
(Is it really a party if you’re not projecting Humphrey Bogart’s face onto your wall?)
Also, set up a popcorn and movie theater snack bar. Some great examples of treats you can serve your guests include:
Speak in your best old timey Transatlantic accent and celebrate the magic of early Hollywood with your closest friends and family. Dress up as your favorite old Hollywood actor or actress and rent a black and white photobooth.
2. Tropical Island Getaway
Bring out the tiki torches and whipped pineapple drinks for this one. Pin flowers to the wall and play ocean noises to transport your guests to the beautiful shores of Tahiti or Maui. Ask each guest to wear their best tropical shirt to beat the heat in style too.
This theme works best for elementary school fundraisers and children’s birthday parties. However, this isn’t to say that adults can’t enjoy a carnival theme either — after all, who doesn’t love cotton candy?
Rent a cotton candy, popcorn, or snow cone machine. Create your own carnival games out of poster board and cardboard. Some great games you can use for inspiration can include:
Prep candied apples and set up a striped tent to achieve the full effect.
4. Under the Sea
This event theme is one of the most fun to decorate for! It can also be one of the most cost-friendly ideas if you’re looking to throw a party on a budget. Hang blue streamers from the ceiling to create the illusion that your guests are underwater. Play whale sounds to mimic ocean life passing by. Pin seashells to the walls and create a blue balloon arch around the doorway.
5. A Murder Mystery Dinner Party
This party theme is tough to pull off, but your guests will remember this one for many years to come! Begin by coming up with a storyline. Also, create unique characters with interesting traits and backstories.
Then, assign roles to all of your guests. Create cue cards with these significant attributes so your guests know who they are playing for the night. When the guests arrive to your party, separate the event into three parts. Initially, allow your guests to mingle with each other for this first round. This allows guests to learn more about everyone else’s characters and to form theories on who the killer is.
For the second round, notify the victim that they have been murdered. Give them a sign to display that they are now deceased and playing the role of their ‘ghost.’ This also allows your victim to continue being a part of the game.
For the final round, set up an accusatory stage, where your guests will try to narrow down who done it! Have a prize ready for the winner.
This is an excellent theme if your guests love theatrics and drama. It’s also a fun way for adults to let their inner child loose since dinner murder mysteries are essentially board games come to life.
6. Outdoor All American BBQ
This theme is a classic and doesn’t take much effort at all. After all, the big factor with this theme is food — and lots of it. Do this event potluck style and have guests bring their favorite comfort foods like pasta salad. If you’re holding your event outdoors to suit this classic theme, implement these precautions.
7. Monte Carlo
Can you really call yourself an adult until you’ve thrown a Monte Carlo or Vegas-themed party? Select your favorite casino games, like poker or blackjack, and rent a casino table if you wish to go all out.
Buy chips from any party store and play the night away. Ensure this is an adult-only event, as the kiddos may not enjoy it nearly as much as the parents. Have a fancier dress code so your guests can get into the Monte Carlo spirit. Use gold streamers and red and black decorations to transport your guests and remind them of the magic of Monte Carlo.
8. Time Period Party
Time period parties are also a lot of fun since your guests get to express themselves with wild and funky costumes. Choose your favorite decade — whether it’s the 70’s or 80’s — and go from there. Play a game of musical chairs set to disco tunes. If you want something classier, throw a Gatsby-inspired party and have everyone dressed in 1920’s garb.
Play some Charleston hits, serve champagne, and hold a contest for best dressed. For a 50’s party, create a build your own milkshake station, and play those classic rock and roll hits all night long. You can even throw a dance party to awaken everyone’s competitive edge on the dance floor.
9. Holiday Themed Party
Holiday parties may be some of the most fun to put together since your theme is already laid out for you. Take a Halloween party, for example — create a miniature haunted house in your home and serve popular Halloween candy to your guests.
You can also get really creative with your food and bake cookies in fun bat shapes, or rent a fog machine to add to the ambiance. You can also screen horror movie classics up on your wall, and play hits like the Monster Mash or Thriller.
For a Christmas themed party, plan a Secret Santa giveaway. You can also host a White Elephant party or create a build your own ornament station. Decorate the house with all kinds of holiday-inspired decorations. And don’t forget the mistletoe!
10. Tea Party
This theme is airy, classy, and easy to put together on short notice. Focus on purchasing high-quality teas and coffees that all your guests will enjoy. You can even purchase a vintage tea set to add to the ambiance. Ask your guests to come dressed to the nines to complete the look and feel of the party. Make tiny finger foods like sandwiches for your guests to snack on.
If you’re feeling mysterious, throw a mini masquerade ball. Ask your guests to come with their best mask, or give them the option to create one at your party.
If you’re a fan of the bard and his plays, put together a party to honor one of the most creative and original minds in literature. Put on a play with your friends, and dress up in Renaissance-wear.
As you can see, theming is crucial to your party, and you should give it the most thought when trying to sort out the details of your event. Party themes go beyond this list, so do your research and find something that looks fun, yet realistic.
Now that you’ve picked your theme let’s talk about budgeting for your party.
This is one of the not so glamorous parts of hosting, but you have to crunch some numbers before planning the fun components. Here are some tips for configuring your budget in the most efficient way possible!
Why Crunch the Numbers Anyway?
It’s easy to go overboard when you have your eyes set on planning an unforgettable party. However, don’t assume that the more expensive your party is, the better the experience will be. Staying on a budget will also allow you to save money for your next event, so remember to spend wisely and splurge when you need to.
Come Up with a Rough Estimate
One night of hosting can cost anywhere from one hundred to one thousand dollars! Ask yourself, how much are you willing to spend on your guests? Wherever your number lies, write it down and don’t forget it!
Create a List
Create your list filled with every cost imaginable. Take these next few party factors into consideration.
List Your Options For Each Section
Create a spreadsheet and list all of the expenses you came up with. Then, create rows next to each category and list the prices and quotes of different businesses in town. This allows you to get the best deal for the same service, so don’t skip this step if you’re on a tighter budget.
Add Your Numbers Up
Lastly, add your numbers up and attempt to stick to the planned budget you created in the first step. Create some wiggle room if you can, since it’s so easy to go over your intended amount!
If you have room in your budget to book a separate venue, reserve a room to accommodate more people. However, this can also change the tone of your event. If you’re looking to put on a grand and spectacular party, consider renting out a larger house or a hotel event space. But if you wish for your event to feel homier and close-kit, stick to your living room and/or backyard.
Creating a Guest List
After selecting your theme, designing a budget, picking a venue, it’s time to come up with your guest list. In order to craft this list, you’ll need to keep your total budget in mind, as this can impact how many people you can house and feed. Next, consider these factors when drawing up the list.
Configure how many people will fit into your venue.
Invite an equal ratio of men to women, to keep things interesting.
If you can, invite friends who already know each other. This can limit any awakard tension that may arise if everyone is unafmialir with each other.
Invite people who are naturally outgoing, but won’t cause too many issues. These people are often the life of the party, so make sure their invitation doesn’t get lost in transit.
Old School Invites
If you consider yourself an old soul, send out physical invites in the mail. Your guests will always have this memento, even after the party is over. Print out these next few details on every invitation.
You can also go the modern route and send invitations through email or text. However, if you want to kick things up a notch, consider creating a fun e-vite with graphics and a unique font. Deliver this straight to your invitee’s inbox.
You can also create a website for your event. This is common with weddings, but it’s also a convenient way to store all the information related to your party for both you and your guests. Have a section where guests can RSVP right on the site.
Consider your decor next and remember, this should be in line with your theme. Decorate all the areas where you’re anticipating guests. Even the backyard can benefit from a makeover so add some string lights to illuminate your porch. If you have an outdoor pool, fill it will floaties, balls, and perhaps an inflatable basketball hoop.
Lastly, make sure the entire house is tidy. Deep clean the bathrooms, and make sure the bedrooms are free of clutter in case you need to give new friends a quick tour of the house.
Assembling a Menu
If you’re feeling unsure about the party planning process, put the most effort into the food — it’s usually what your guests will remember the most anyway.
Appetizers are meant to tease the palette. However, they also keep your guests somewhat full before the main course comes out, so don’t skimp on these. Hangry guests are unhappy guests.
With appetizers, keep in mind that presentation is key. You can serve simple foods as appetizers, such as crackers or a veggie platter. But put effort into the design. Add various spreads and dips to appease your guests. Place the foods on colorful plates and make sure there are plenty of napkins in case accidental spills happen.
Your Main Course
Serve a substantial meal if you want to be remembered as a great host! Your meal can be in line with your theme. But also consider who your guests are.
If you’re hosting a child’s birthday, they may be pickier and unwilling to try foods outside of their comfort zone.
However, if there are more adults in attendance, serve more refined foods than burgers and fries.
Wrap your main course up with some mouthwatering desserts. No one is ever too old for chocolate! Bring out a cake, serve sundaes, or pass out candy bars, depending on the vibe of your party.
Other Tips for Planning Your Menu
Avoid planning your menu on the day of your event. You need a few days beforehand to shop for fresh ingredients, cook, and assemble your dishes.
Additionally, if you want to be the best host possible, ask all of your guests if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions. They may be gluten-free, lactose intolerant, or vegan. You don’t want to have any guests at your party starving, as they won’t be able to enjoy themselves and likely won’t return to your next shindig.
Therefore, add an extra box to all of your invitations and ask each guest if they have any qualms with certain foods.
Another touch you can add is to create laminated menus. This can elevate your event, and help it stand out from other dinner parties your guests have attended.
Finding the Proper Drinks for the Occasion
If you’re throwing an adult-only affair, stock up on alcoholic beverages a few days before the event. The type of liquor you choose is directly tied to the theme.
The type of guests you’re having over can also determine what you need to buy. If you’re throwing a fun and casual outdoor party, whip up some frozen cocktails or add beer and wine spritzers to your drink menu.
If you’re putting together a classy event in the dead of winter, opt for warm drinks such as bourbon hot cocoa, spiced cider with rum, or the ever classic caramel apple hot toddy.
Finding the Right Music
With streaming services like Spotify, assembling a playlist has never been easier. When selecting your music for the event, make sure to consider these factors.
If your guests are younger, opt for a Top 40s mix with a little bit of hip-hop and pop.
However, if you’re having older guests over, play the classics.
Music adds ambiance, but this doesn’t mean it should serve as your only mode of entertainment. Implement some of these ideas, and your guests will never be bored.
Allow your guests to provide the musical entertainment themselves. Renting a karaoke machine is more cost-effective than booking an artist, DJ, or band, and it’s also way more fun!
Board games and tabletop games are great for parties and events where not everyone in attendance is familiar with each other. Board games also utilize teamwork skills and creativity.
Charades will get your guests off their feet and moving. Select this game if you’re planning to invite multiple couples to your party, as this allows you to play in pre-divided teams easily.
Virtual reality is more immersive than your traditional video game, meaning that your guests will love it regardless if they’re regular gamers or not. Set up a station in the corner of the room and allow your guests to pick any game that sounds interesting.
Wine or Whiskey Tasting
This event is best for adult only parties, but it will undoubtedly be one to remember. Select your wine or spirit of choice, and ask the attendant at your local liquor store for their top sellers and recommendations. Buy a few bottles of their best brew and serve your guests. Make sure to chill your drinks the night before for the best taste.
The only thing your guests will love more than food is the option to customize it themselves. Below, you’ll find some ways you can infuse food and entertainment.
Mini Movie Theatre
Watching a film is one of the best ways to pass the time. This is also an excellent way to provide entertainment if your guests have small children with them. In a separate room, install a projector and tape a piece of white fabric to the wall. Screen a classic or a blockbuster — whatever fits your theme.
Arts and Crafts
You’re never too old for arts and crafts. Pick a fun project, like pottery or painting, serve your guests some chilled wine, and get creative!
This activity will also give your guests something to take home with them. If you wish to do some craft-based activity, ensure you have enough raw materials for everyone by asking an employee at the craft store for advice.
Kid Friendly or Kid Free?
Decide whether it will be child-free or not. There are pros and cons to both. So consider these factors when trying to decide if you want to go tot-free or not.
Should You Allow Children?
If you allow children, this ensures more of your friends can make it to your event, as they won’t have to look for a sitter. However, this significantly decreases the number of things you can do at your party. You may also have to child-proof your home if toddlers are in attendance.
If you can hire someone to watch the children while you and your friends enjoy the evening, by all means, have kids over. Your friends and family members will be so grateful for the free child-care.
However, if you’re worried about the kids getting hurt, bored, or rowdy, then it’s best to leave them with a sitter at their own home.
Your Party Should Have a Flow to it
The best parties have a beginning, middle, and end — just like your favorite stories. If you want to upgrade your party, consider adding some structure to it. For example, begin with a toast, and end your party with a miniature display of fireworks.
Alternatively, you can place your karaoke bar at the entrance, and allow your guests to work their way to the kitchen, where you’ll have a delicious chocolate fountain waiting for them. End the night with a game of charades.
Utilize Your Indoor and Outdoor Space
Speaking of flow, one of the best ways you can create more surface area in a smaller home is also to utilize your backyard space. Keep your backdoor open to allow your guests to move freely throughout those regions. Also, have respective indoor, and outdoor designated activities.
Put Your Pets Away
As a pet-owner, it’s natural to assume that everyone will fall in love with your precious pup or cuddly kitten. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If any one of your guests has severe allergies or is terrified of animals, do the courteous thing and place your pet in another room throughout the course of your party.
If you worry about your animal being locked up, drop them off with a relative for a few hours. Leave their favorite toy and bag of treats behind with them too.
Only let your four-legged friend loose if everyone is in agreement — because if all your guests don’t mind being around animals, your pet can become the life of the entire party!
Tips for Throwing a Cost-Efficient Party
Hosting an incredible party shouldn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. If you wish to throw a high-quality party on a lower budget, try these ideas out.
Get Creative with Your Decor
One way you can create authentic decor is to skip the plastic decorations from the craft store altogether. Buy some props at your local thrift store instead.
Turn it into a Potluck
If you want to save some money on the food bill and catering, consider throwing a potluck instead. Have everyone bring a dish and save hundreds of dollars. You’ll also save a good amount of time, as you won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
If You Choose to Cook, Use High Volume and Low Cost Foods
What are high volume low cost foods? These foods include cheap staples like dried pasta, beans, rice, lentils, and potatoes. You can buy pounds of this stuff for next to nothing. Make hearty meals like spaghetti marinara, or black bean tacos with Spanish rice.
If you’ve thrown parties in the past, there’s no shame in saving those decorations for the next party you get a chance to host. Take them down with care to preserve your decorations, and store them in a box.
Bake Your Own Pastries and Cakes
Getting a custom cake baked is quite pricy, so find an easy recipe you can do at home instead.
Ask Guests to Document the Event
While this isn’t a real substitute for a professional photographer, it’s certainly a fun way to get your guests involved. Create a hashtag for your event. Then, make a poster at the door and ask your guests to share their photos using this hashtag. This allows you to see all of the pictures in one easy place on social media sites.
Use iPhone Games for Cost-Effective Entertainment
Games like Heads-Up are fun and only cost 99 cents. However, it’s also effective at keeping an entire crowd entertained for hours.
Lastly, Relax and Enjoy Your Event
Planning and throwing a spectacular party is no easy feat. When all is said and done, make sure to enjoy your own event. It can be easy to worry about all the details on the day of your planned party, but what’s the fun in that?
Pour yourself a drink, and prepare yourself for the abundance of positive feedback on your skills and attention to detail.
Ending Your Party Gracefully
As previously stated, your event should have a beginning, middle, and end. However, once you’ve reached the last hour of the party, what’s the best way to tell your guests that it’s time for them to skedaddle? You don’t want to be rude, but every great event must come to an end eventually. You need to sleep, so if you’re unsure how to handle this slightly awkward encounter, try to implement some of these tips.
The Clean Up
As the host, you are responsible for cleaning up the mess left behind. It’s one of the not-so-glamorous parts of throwing a party, but it comes with the territory. You can either hire a service to clean up afterward or entrust a close friend or family member to stay behind to help you. Begin with the dishes. This is often the hardest part, and the portion you’ll be tempted to save for last. But with the dishes out of the way, you’ll have the motivation to keep that momentum going!
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hosting
Of course, becoming the ultimate host is a learning process. But here are a few faux pas you want to avoid at all costs.
Waiting Until the Last Second to Plan
Depending on how grand your party is, you want to have a couple of weeks to plan everything. This early planning strategy can also eliminate the stress that most hosts will feel.
Don’t Over Serve Your Guests Alcohol
Not only is it pricy to purchase this much alcohol, but having someone go on a drunken tangent can ruin your entire evening. Stick to a two or three drink maximum to stay on the safe side.
Running Out of Food
Hungry dinner guests never leave a party satisfied. Always make more food than you think you need. Guests can take any leftovers home with them if you're concerned about the excess.
Don’t Blow Through Your Budget
Create a contingency plan, and whatever you do, do not spend money that you don’t have. For example, if you have a credit card, don’t max it out buying specialty food and exotic wines.
Allow Guests to Bring a Plus One
If there is room in the budget, allow your friends to bring a plus one. This will make your party more interesting, as you’ll meet many new people who are outside your current circle of friends.
Hosting is no joke — you’re in charge of everything and it can get so stressful! While this much responsibly can feel empowering, it can also be a lot for one person to deal with. Therefore, if anyone offers to help, don’t be too proud to take it. Let them in on the fun too, whether they want to bring a casserole or help you wash the dishes afterward.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself if You Don’t Succeed
If your DJ didn’t show up, or your food came out a bit burnt, try not to be so hard on yourself! Parties and events are meant to be fun and special occasions. Learn from your mistakes and try to throw an even better party the next time you get the opportunity.
Some Final Words on Hosting
Hosting is incredibly rewarding. Especially when your party is over and your guests keep reiterating what a marvelous time they had.
Now, thanks to this guide, you should know how to be a better host! There’s nothing stopping you from throwing the most incredible get-togethers, dinners, and parties for all of your family and friends. Implement these tips the next time you get a chance to entertain, and your guests will leave feeling lucky to be a part of your life.