Party Basics

Of course, some parties are innately based on themes: costume parties, decade parties, parties based around specific entertainment ideas, or "girly" parties, such as beauty nights, craft groups, or product parties (Tupperware, anyone?).

Some of the best parties are thrown because the host wants to explore an interesting thematic idea. For example

  • An entertainment-based party, such as a karaoke, film, or Super Bowl party, in which the theme event is central to the party's concept
  • A crafting group, in which guests work on a specific yarn, sewing, or other craft project
  • A game night, dice party, or scavenger hunt, at which guests participate in an activity or game
The difference between theme parties and parties that incorporate themes is the planning involved. Usually, there is an activity or form of entertainment central to the party's purpose. This activity will have rules or requirements, or built-in ideas about the appropriate types of food, drink, décor, and activities (for example, a Super Bowl party).

As you're planning a theme party, you'll need to determine any specific tools you or your guests will need to supply, directions you need to print up, or special equipment you'll need to buy, rent, or borrow.

Theme parties don't have to break the bank. Shop odd locations for theme-based party supplies, such as your city's Chinatown or another culturally rich area, where you can find clever, inexpensive decorations and favors your guests might find exotic and fun. You'll spend far less than you would at a party-supply store, and the unique details will impress your guests.

Choosing Party Décor
When thinking of party décor, many minds rush straight to streamers and helium balloons. These, however, are not the type of décor to which I refer – unless you are throwing a Tacky Party or a birthday bash for your six-year-old niece.

You won't spend a lot of money or time adding these extras, but your guests will wow over the effort you'll appear to have put into making their night special. By just adding a few details, you'll turn everyday into extraordinary. Instead of focusing on traditional elements, try a little creativity:

  • Having a barbecue? Make it a western barbecue by covering your tables with red-and-white checkerboard tablecloths, kitschy condiment squeeze bottles, vintage cowboy-printed fabric squares as napkins, and a centerpiece made of chili peppers and Tabasco sauce.
  • Planning a martini party? Gussy things up with a swing theme: vintage bar glasses, mood lighting in low pinks and yellows, a bowl of cigars, and drink-recipe cocktail napkins.
  • Turn an ordinary luncheon into high tea by investing in a three-tiered serving platter; linen napkins; clean, polished silver and crystal; and a lovely bouquet of tulips.
Remember to keep safety in mind when you're planning your party décor. Although items sold at deep discounts might be good for your budget, they might not be safe for your guests, especially if you are inviting children. Use common sense: Don't place highly flammable decorative items near open flame, don't use plastic bags or anything with accessible string if you're hosting a party with minors in attendance, and don't encourage guests (especially if they have been drinking alcohol) to toast their marshmallows with short, wooden skewers.

Planning for Food and Drink
Although your menu will change from party to party, one fact remains the same: Your guests will want to eat and drink. Before you get into extensive menu planning, consider a few basics.

More on: Pop Culture

Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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