Looking for some great ideas for that wonderful party you are planning? Fantastic! I got some ideas for you to consider.

First of all, whatever type of party it is, you want it go with a swing and for your guests to go home saying what a wonderful time they had.

Unfortunately, these things don’t just happen; organising a party is a lot of hard work and, if you choose to do it yourself, there will undoubtedly be times along the way when you wish you hadn’t! There’s a lot to think about and very often the big day arrives and you suddenly realise you have forgotten something.

So, to help you out, make sure you don’t forget anything, give you some ideas and enable you to organise a party to remember we’ve put together this Guide to help you. The aim is to provide you with some guidelines on the key areas to consider, together with useful links, so you can use your own inspiration to plan a party that everyone will remember.

It’s putting all the ingredients together and making them into a coherent whole that is the ultimate test for you as a party host. If you think about your guests and do everything with them in mind, you will have a very special party – one that people will talk about (for the right reasons) for a long time.

What Type of Party?

Almost everyone enjoys a good party – but what sort are you going to provide? The list of possibilities when organising a party is (almost) endless, but you need to decide at the outset what sort of party you are going to have. Here are some ideas for you, but you will be able to think of some more of your own, so get your imagination working!

 Birthday party

Marriage anniversary party

Bring a bottle party

Engagement party

Themed – The Great Gatsby or James Bond, for example. If it's for someone (a retirement party, for example) have a theme that reflects one of their hobbies or interests. The Black Panther was recently released, I haven’t watched it yet but the I am certain a Black Panther Themed party will excite a lot of Nigerian and African fans.

Garden party

Boat ride party

Progressive party – sometimes called a Safari party, in which you move from house to house

Bring a cocktail

This is your life party

Fancy dress party

Treasure Hunt party

Fun Casino Party

80s party – bring a photograph of how you looked in the 80s

Pool party

Party in your favourite restaurant

Theatre or cinema followed by a meal

Trip to a sporting event followed by a meal

Surprise party

And the list goes on….

Something in that list should appeal to you – or at least set your mind working so that you can come up with your own, even better, idea!

The type of party might well determine (or be determined by) the time of day you have it. Lunch time or afternoon parties can be great – but remember that it might be difficult persuading people to leave if you don’t want them there in the evening, too!

Your options are limited only by your own imagination. Get it out, polish it up and give them a party they’ll remember. Whatever you choose, make sure that both you and your guests have a great time.

And make sure your party invitation reflects the great time you want them to have.


Until you know how much you are prepared to spend on the party, there are very few concrete decisions you can make. It may determine whether you have it at home or elsewhere and will probably be the dominant factor in deciding the overall nature of the party, as well as how many nice little extras you can throw in. It may even determine whether you are going to ask people to bring a bottle or a plate.

So think carefully about how much you are going to spend and then, as you go through the rest of the planning, make sure you cost each element.


Once you have fixed your budget, you can then decide on the venue. If you’re going to do the work yourself (rather than go somewhere such as the theatre followed by a meal, say) it’s undoubtedly easier to organise your party at home, so that everything is at hand and you can’t forget to take anything to the venue.

However, before you decide to organise a party at home you must make sure that home is suitable. The first question is: Is it big enough for all the guests?


Your guest list is, of course, all-important. In a sense, everything else is dependent on how many people you are going to invite. So, decide whom you are going to invite in conjunction with the other elements of organising the party, always bearing in mind who and how many you are going to invite. Of course, if you have a particular type of party in mind right from the start, then the guest list will have to be appropriate to that. If it means that you can’t invite all your friends, consider how you can avoid upsetting those who miss out!


You might like to have a reserve list in case some people can’t come, but this will depend on how many friends you have and whether you want to invite them all right from the start. However, once you have decided on your primary guest list, don’t alter the numbers too much because it could affect all your other plans.


Don't forget to spend some time on the party invitation. It's the first thing your guests will see connected with the party and it can help to create the right mood and anticipation even before they arrive. Most people love receiving invitations so it's worth doing.

Imagine you’re inviting people to a ‘James Bond’ themed party. Get into the swing of it straight away and wet their appetites!

Tell them in the invitation that they have been selected for an interview for MI6. Their first assignment is to attend a party dressed as one of the characters in a James Bond film. Then have an envelope inside the outer one marked ‘Top Secret’ with all the details in.


So you can have some fun with invitations if you wish – dust off your imagination again! Put any information on them that you feel necessary, whilst making them fun. They’re the start of the party! For example, you will obviously include:




A request to RSVP

You might wish to include:


Eating and drinking details, e.g. if you want them to bring a bottle or a plate

If presents are not required

Details of local B&Bs and hotels if you think people might want to stay the night

Think how you want your invitations to look. You can obviously buy them in all sorts of different designs or you can produce them yourself on the computer. Do you want them to be formal or funny and informal? The feel of the invitation will give people an idea of the style of the party you’re going to host. Invitations are your chance to really ’sell’ the party and make everyone look forward to it. If they come thinking they will enjoy it, they will!


When you are organising a party, food is arguably the most important element. If you ask people how they enjoyed a party the first response is nearly always, ‘Lovely, the food was excellent.’ (Or not, as the case may be!) But should it be hot, cold, sit down, stand around or any combination of those? The possibilities are endless and providing food can be a minefield.

You need to think carefully about feeding people vis a vis the numbers (what will be relatively easy to provide for that number of people, if you are doing it yourself), the weather and the cost!

A barbeque almost always goes down well and there is never any shortage of (male) volunteers to cook it for you. There are a number of barbeque recipe books that you can use so that you can make your barbeque a bit different form the norm. 


How many courses are you going to have? If you want more courses, cheese and biscuits are a good option in that they are easy to do and always popular. Some people prefer a starter and others are dessert people, so think carefully about first courses and sweets if you want a number of courses. And, whatever you do, don’t forget the vegetarian option!

If you are buying food for a number of people, see if any of your friends has a card for a cash and carry, such as Macro or Costco. Buying party food from that sort of outlet can be cheaper and also easier in that they will do ready-made sweets and so on that you might find more than acceptable.

Talking of friends, it can be a good idea to get children or grandchildren of friends (or your own, come to that!) to act as waiters and waitresses. You will almost certainly get enthusiasm from your waiting staff and it’s a way of including them if it’s the type of party to which they are invited.

Having Caterers

The easier, but more expensive, way of providing food is to have someone do it for you. It takes a lot of the hassle out of organising a party. Professional caterers will discuss your menu with you, agree what to provide and give you a price. Have a look at our Things to do and Venues page to get the websites for some professionals.


When you’re organising a party, drink is as important as food! Think about your guests (that same message again) and then decide on what drinks to provide. For example, you may have a friend who drinks nothing but ginger beer at a party, so try to think about people’s preferences. You don’t want anyone to feel forgotten because you haven’t catered for his or her requirements.

A cocktail theme is something a bit different. People rarely drink cocktails these days and so it can make a nice change to provide them for your guests. Of course, most cocktails are quite expensive to produce, with their spirit base, so remember your budget.

Remember that some of your guests will be driving, so get in soft drinks and water (or provide water from the tap, of course!).

Making it Go with a Swing!

Parties should ‘go with a swing’. This means that there’s a buzz about the place and everyone is engaged in the party. That doesn’t mean organising a party out of existence! You might want to organise a party that is completely freewheeling and unstructured. For many occasions this will be fine and probably what your guests want. However, for some special occasions it may be that you want to include various elements into the function. These may include:


An icebreaker, for people to get to know each other. A good one is to give everyone a famous name pinned on their back and guests have to find their partner – Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, for example.

Games. You need to think carefully whether your guests are the kind of people who like games and, if so, what sort. You need to be sure that people will prefer having games organised for them rather than doing their own thing before you start organising them. They can be a lot of fun but be careful.

Speeches. You may well have a very good reason for wanting one or two speeches. You may want to formally thank your guests for coming, for example. If it’s an anniversary, you may want to say something about your partner as you may if it’s your partner’s birthday. Speeches are ideally made just after people have finished eating, but make sure that everyone has something with which to drink a toast.

Presents. You may be organising your party for someone else – it could even be a surprise party. If that’s the case, it may well be that you wish to ask them to bring a present for the person/people for whom you are organising it. On the other hand, you may want to make a point of telling people not to bring a present. This may be particularly appropriate if you are organising a party for your own Anniversary, say, and you don’t want people to feel they have to bring a gift for you. You may have seen this before, but saying, ‘No presents, please, just your presence’, is a nice way to put it.

If you want any or all of these elements or some form of entertainment, which is covered below, you need to think about when you will have them and for how long they should last. You need a good balance to the party so that no one element dominates.



The basic question is whether to have entertainment at all. Many celebrations are a great success without it and people are quite happy just to chat. However, if you wish to have some entertainment you could consider the following:



Jazz band

'Pop' band



There are a whole host of extras that might help your celebration go with a swing. You might want to decorate the venue to make it look more festive, you might like party poppers or you might feel that candles will give it more atmosphere.

Fireworks always add that something extra. A short display after people have eaten always goes down well.


If you think that having a theme will enhance things, you can decorate your venue appropriately. It also means fancy dress, of course, so don’t forget to tell your guests the theme on the invitation.

Again, think about your guests before you do this. Not everyone likes fancy dress, so if you think that a number of your guests would be uncomfortable with it, then perhaps you should steer clear of it. On the other hand, it’s great fun! Choose a theme, if you have one, that’s reasonably simple to dress up to.

You may want to organise a party that is completely different. If you don’t want a ‘conventional’ party at home or some alternative venue, there are a number of alternatives. So, just be creative!