Throw the Perfect Party: 6 Tips to a Successful Private Event
There’s nothing better than bringing a group together over food and drink, no matter the occasion. However, for many of us, hosting a private party can feel like a lot of pressure, even if it’s just a small gathering. It’s clear why people choose to hire event planners for these things—once you dive into the details of what all goes in to even a modest event, it seems like only a pro could handle so many moving parts. But the truth is anyone can successfully organize a fabulous event, especially at a venue with dedicated space for private parties. And, when it’s hosted somewhere other than your home, you too will most likely enjoy the event more. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Start with a budget
A spending limit will determine several things, from the number of guests to the venue, down to what drinks you’ll serve and how to handle entertainment. Start with a modest budget but be open to spending a little more if needed. Once you know what you’re willing to spend, divide it by the number of guests you want to invite. For example, if your budget is $1000 and you want to invite 12 people, just divide $1000 by 12—in this case, you’d be working with about $83 per person. The cost per person is a good starting point for picking food and drink menus and any possible gifts you want to hand out. Don’t forget: if you plan to bring in entertainment or decorations, you’ll have to subtract that cost from the overall budget before dividing.
Pick a theme
This is usually the easiest part! When picking a theme, consider why you’re hosting an event in the first place. Is this a professional event or are you celebrating a personal milestone? Is it just a casual get-together, or will people come dressed to impress? Be sure to take into account how many people will attend—some ideas are better suited to larger groups, while others just work well in an intimate setting. As it all comes together, think about how décor will fit into your budget—will you need banners, individual place settings, special invitations, centerpieces? Will you fully embrace the theme or keep it subtle? There’s plenty to think about, though it shouldn’t feel overwhelming. With this one, have fun with it and trust your instincts.
Decide on a timeframe
When do you want to throw the event? How much time will you have to plan it? Most importantly, how long will the party last? If you’re hoping to bring your loved ones together to celebrate all night long, you’ll need to do more than hors d’oeuvres and a couple drink tickets. For reference, a seated dinner can take about three to four hours, depending on the courses and any reception before and after. On the other hand, a cocktail party with passed appetizers may last a couple of hours.
Ask about allergies
Or, at the very least, include it as a footnote when you start inviting everyone. Have you ever been to a beautiful party, but had nothing to eat? Whether someone really can’t eat certain foods, or they just have a preference, it’s information you’ll want to include when you start setting a menu. Most restaurants will ask this right off the bat, so make sure to come prepared.
Make it convenient
Location is an important part of this. When choosing your venue, don’t dwell as much on how hip or trendy the spot is—while this is a nice bonus, it won’t affect the experience as much as you may think. Step into your guests’ heads for a second. They’ll definitely have questions about getting there, so avoid making this a barrier. Is there enough parking? Is the restaurant local? These things can make or break your get together—no one wants to get lost on the way there or have their car towed halfway through dinner.
Set the mood
Bring it all together by picking exactly the right space and setting it up just perfectly. Take your party size and theme into account and consider how much space you’ll need. If you’re hosting an intimate event, you won’t want a warehouse-sized room. On the other hand, if you’ve invited a lot of guests and you want plenty of room to move around, make sure the space can accommodate this. Don’t be afraid to work with the restaurant to get all your decorations in place—they’re the experts!