Everyone knows the basics of throwing a great party -- you need great guests, great food and a great reason to celebrate! But we want you to get more out of every bash, so we’ve rounded up some of our expert party-planning tips to help you take your next event from fun to EPIC. From easy apps to cool cocktail hacks to ways to elevate any occasion, this checklist will ensure you go beyond the basics and throw the best bash yet. Cheers to that!
Don’t Forget the Appetizers!
Plan on serving six pieces per guest -- 12 if there’s no main dish
PRO TIP: Opt for a mix of cold stationed food -- think crudites and cheese platters -- that can be prepped and plated ahead of time. This paired with two to three warm or hot apps is a good balance that will keep everyone happy.
CHOOSE 1-3 easy, prep-in-advance apps -- this party-time classics can be served cold or room temperature.
- Crudite/Veggies and dip
- Charcuterie (i.e. meats like prosciutto, salami, soppressata and chorizo
- Cold dips and spreads
- Tortilla pinwheels
- Stuffed cherry tomatoes
- Spinach or spinach and artichoke dip
- Buffalo chicken dip
- Chicken or beef satay or mini kebabs
- Slides -- beef, turkey, chicken or pulled pork/chicken
- Shrimp in endive cups
- Mini quiche
- Pigs in a blanket
- Stuffed mushrooms
- Sweet and spicy mini meatballs
Every party needs a great signature drink -- or two. Don’t feel like playing bartender all night? Opt for big batch cocktails or test drive this fun, party-ready cocktail-in-a-jar hack.
Going BIG BATCH? These drinks are crowd-pleasers and easy to mix up in a spigotted drink server, pitcher or deep punch bowl.
- Spiked iced tea or lemonade
- Strawberry rose punch
- Watermelon mojitos
- Want to serve INDIVIDUAL COCKTAIL JARS? Simply mix up a big batch cocktail, pour into individual mason jars, seal and put on ice. Guests can grab a jar, grab a straw and go.
WOW ‘em with DESSERT
Dessert is the perfect time to get creative.Try these trendy sweet eats that are as fun to make as they are to serve -- and EAT.
Try a doughnut “cake”
The simplest method? Grab a tiered cake stand and fill each level with doughnuts -- homemade or store-bought, it really doesn’t matter, just be sure you mix and match flavors and colors.
On the top tier, opt for a doughnut-inspired bundt cake or a stacked “pyramid” of doughnuts. Let’s face it, everyone loves doughnuts, and this creative dessert is simple and the results are stunning.
Whip up a massive chocolate chip cookie -- in a skillet
Skillet chocolate chip cookies are popping up on menus everywhere -- why not try it at home? Not only does it look as good as it tastes, but guests can self-serve, carving out a slice then topping with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce or other topping you’ve got standing by.
Scoop it up with an ice cream sundae bar
Another classic fave? Ice cream sundaes. If you’re looking for the ultimate hands-on treat, this is for you. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2-3 flavors of ice cream
- 1-2 syrup-based toppings (i.e. chocolate sauce, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup)
- 5-7 toppings -- get creative with out-of-the-box ideas like pretzels, granola or dry cereal, peanut butter and, of course, some fruit, candy and other must-haves
- Whipped cream or cool whip
- Maraschino cherries
To serve, simply set out on a table or bar area that’s conducive to all the scooping and
topping. Then sit back and watch your guests INDULGE.
Bring the OUTDOORS IN
Everyone loves a backyard bash, especially in the warmer months. But what happens when the temperature drops? Bring the outside in.
Frux Fairy Star String Lights are perfect for outside or in. String a set around your dining room, kitchen or party space then dim the lights -- the added twinkle is a great way to set a festive tone.
Need more seating? Why not toss down some picnic blankets and encourage guests to settle in? This is a great way to add seating when there are lots of kids on the guest list -- they’ll love having an indoor “picnic!”
- If the weather’s not TOO cold, don’t be afraid to have one aspect of your party outside. For example, maybe dessert is served al fresco -- guests can grab a bite, get a little fresh air, then pop back inside. If you’ve got a fire pit or an outdoor heater or heat lamp, set up a little seating area so guests can enjoy their sweet treats before coming back in.
The right playlist sets the perfect tone -- so don’t skimp on this critical piece of the party.
Give guests a THEME and ask them to send one to two songs to add to the party playlist. Opt for a theme that speaks to the guests -- i.e. 80s Power Ballads or Summer Hits of the 90s -- or that represents the theme you’re going for, like Spook-tacular Beats or Blues & Brews.
Have guests guess the theme of your playlists. Come up with creative playlists -- either pre-made (see below) or personally organized -- and swap out the beats every hour. Ask guests to submit their best guesses for the theme, with the winners walking off with party time glory -- and maybe a small prize.
- Let technology be the DJ. Pandora, Apple Music and Spotify have pre-made playlists spanning everything from artists and genres to decades and years to quirky themes. Scan the list, find one that suits and hit PLAY. Your DJ will “spin” all night long!
Because a little friendly competition never hurt…
Think party games are just for kids? Think again…
Give every guest a sheet of stickers. Whoever sticks ALL of their stickers on the other guests WITHOUT being noticed wins. It’s tougher than it sounds and, also, fun for every age. Watch your guests get creative -- and watch that unknowing guest’s back fill up with rogue stickers.
Family/Friend History Charades
Sure, anyone can act out the piano scene in BIG. The REAL challenge -- and the fastest way to hilarity? Act out scenes from your mutual friendship or family history. The time you drove cross-country with no AC? When he overslept and missed the calculus final? The big wedding? It’s all fair game.
Two Truths & a Lie
How well do you REALLY know your party guests? With this easy game, you’ll soon see! Each guest lists out two TRUE facts about themselves and ONE lie. The goal of the game is to guess which is the lie. It’s simple but HARD -- everyone has a few random secrets kicking around. Now is the time to bring them out!
Want the list to bring with you? Get the Printable Version Here!