Be a good party host from prep to parting gifts

Whether you're throwing a raging party or a small gathering, you want your guests to have a good time. By making basic preparations and inviting a dynamic group of people, you can ensure your event will succeed. Hosting a good party is all about preparation, so if you get everything ready ahead of time, you can be assured that you and your guests will have a good time all night.

2

Make your guest list.

  1. Include a manageable amount of guests on your guest list. Consider the type of party you want to have. If you want close conversation, limit your invite list to 8-12 people. If you want a large, raging party, go bigger.
    • You don’t have to invite everyone you know to every party. Consider what type of party it is (e.g., salsa dancing vs. a conversational dinner) and which guests would enjoy that event.
    • Try to include at least one person on your guest list who can be the “life of the party” and fill any awkward silences.
    • Assume everyone will say yes instead of inviting tons of people and hoping only a set amount can make it—you can always add more people later!
3

Send out invitations that match your party’s vibe.

4

Make a to-do list before the party.

  1. This list will help you on the day of the party so as few things as possible get forgotten. Give yourself 1-2 hours more than you think you need to complete everything on the list, so that you don’t seem harried or stressed when guests arrive.[3]
    • Let others help you complete the party preparations on your list.
    • Hosting a party is a lot of work, so let others help you. If guests offer to bring side dishes, help prep before the party, or clean up afterward, let them!
5

Set up a fun party space.

  1. Offer enough seating options for everyone on your guest list. If you're throwing a big party, remove anything delicate or breakable in advance to avoid costly and embarrassing mishaps.[4] Decorate with a few simple items—small touches go a long way with guests![5] Try understated decor like:
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7

Prepare a tasty menu.

  1. Have enough food for the entire party, and make sure you have options for children and different dietary restrictions (if needed). Don't put out all of your food at once—fill up a few bowls, then refill them as the party needs.[8]
    • Focus on doing one thing well, and then forgetting the rest.
    • For example, if you spend your cooking time baking a delicious layer cake, don’t worry about also making the entree from scratch. Order take-out or buy something you can warm up in the oven!
    • Put the food options wherever you want people to be: living room, kitchen, or wherever you want guests to flock to!
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10

Check in with all your guests during the party.

  1. Help others mingle by making meaningful introductions between people who haven’t met before, prompting their conversation by sharing something they have in common with each other.[11]
    • A good way to mix up groups is to ask someone for help with something. You can then steer them to a new group when you're done or make space for someone else to move in.
    • Enlist very shy friends as assistants. Ask them to help keep the food filled with you or prepare a dish for dinner. They'll appreciate the attention.[12]
11

Provide fun and interesting activities for guests.

  1. Choose an activity that best matches your party and your group of guests. Try a drinking game like King’s Cup, a classic board game like Monopoly, or a raunchier card game like Cards Against Humanity.
    • Put a sports game on TV or play a slideshow of photos, giving people something to talk about if the conversation lulls or if they aren’t as involved in the game.
    • Use a pool table or dart board if you have one.
    • Host tasting tests or contests with the appetizers.
    • Set up a karaoke machine with a computer playing sing-along videos.
    • Play Truth or Dare, Never Have I Ever, Desert Island, or similar conversational games.
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12

Capture memories of the night.

  1. Take lots of photos and get at least one snap of each guest. You can also put the photography into guests' hands by handing out a few disposable cameras or setting up an at-home photo booth kit. Try to take a mix of posed and candid photos to really capture the spirit of the party.
13

Let the party flow naturally.

  1. Everyone may have been hitting the dance floor in the first half of the evening, but now they’re all sitting down and engaging in intimate conversations. Maybe you had an activity planned, like a movie marathon, but people seem much more interested in chatting than watching the film.
    • Let guests lead the way. Avoid constantly trying to make people dance, asking, "Are you having fun," or pushing games on people who just want to talk.
    • Remember that people really just like to be together, so relax and enjoy it!
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14

Have a clear end to your event.

  1. Take note of when guests start to look tired or glance toward the clock. Wrap up the conversation by mentioning some highlights from the evening: “I’ll never forget the story Aimee shared about her family parakeet” or “I know Flynn’s party trick will go down in Hanukkah party history.” Then, thank everyone and walk each guest to the door.[13]
    • Give each guest a small keepsake as you say your goodbye at the door, like a fancy chocolate bar or a Polaroid picture from the evening.
    • Bonus points if your party favor somehow relates to your theme!
15

Make your house comfy for people staying overnight.

  1. Set out small touches for guests staying past the party hours. If certain folks traveled from out of town, ask them about their preferred breakfast and morning beverage. Leave clean towels in their bedroom so they don’t have to ask. Leave a charger next to their bed, as well as a slip of paper with the WiFi password written on it.[14]
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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What are easy ways to be more budget-friendly when planning birthday parties?
    Rachel Weinshanker
    Rachel Weinshanker
    Certified Event & Wedding Planner
    Rachel Weinshanker is a Certified Event and Wedding Planner and the Owner of San Diego Life Events, an award-winning wedding and event planning business based in San Diego, California. Rachel has over eight years of event planning experience, and her work has been featured in many notable publications. San Diego Life Events has been awarded the Wedding Wire Couple's Choice Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Rachel is a graduate from San Diego State University.
    Rachel Weinshanker
    Certified Event & Wedding Planner
    Expert Answer
  • Question
    I want to throw an end-of-school summer party, but I don't want too few or too many people there. What should l do?
    Tom De Backer
    Tom De Backer
    Top Answerer
    First, determine the exact max number of people you want. This depends on many factors: budget, capacity of the location, how many people you can keep in line, etc. Next, make a new list of all the people you would hope to see there, ignoring your max for a moment. Next, compare the two numbers. If you have fewer than the max, you're fine. If you have more, you'll have to cut some people. Send out personal invitations, by name, so they know they can't just bring more people. If you feel bad for cutting some people, consider a pre-party, or an after-party at a bar where everyone is welcome and pays their own way.
  • Question
    I want to throw a party for the people at my school, but I'm not sure what to do, since I want a lot of people there. What do I put in the invitation to make sure they come?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    If you want your party to be attended by a lot of people, make the invitation on Facebook or your social media accounts. You don't have to put anything special into the invitation, except for the date, time, theme (optional) etc.
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Warnings

  • Ensure your guests are drinking responsibly. Stop serving if anyone’s behavior is becoming erratic, and make sure no one who seems inebriated is driving themselves home.
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About This Article

Rachel Weinshanker
Co-authored by:
Certified Event & Wedding Planner
This article was co-authored by Rachel Weinshanker and by wikiHow staff writer, Sophie Burkholder, BA. Rachel Weinshanker is a Certified Event and Wedding Planner and the Owner of San Diego Life Events, an award-winning wedding and event planning business based in San Diego, California. Rachel has over eight years of event planning experience, and her work has been featured in many notable publications. San Diego Life Events has been awarded the Wedding Wire Couple's Choice Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Rachel is a graduate from San Diego State University. This article has been viewed 292,151 times.
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Co-authors: 49
Updated: January 25, 2024
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Article SummaryX

To host a good party, send out invites ahead of time with a request for an RSVP so you can plan how much food and drink to buy. On the day, greet everyone warmly when they arrive and offer to take their coats so they feel welcome. Additionally, have upbeat music playing in the background to create a positive atmosphere. Once the party gets going, try to spend time with each guest to check that they're engaged and having fun. If you feel the conversation is dying down, mix up groups of people or introduce a shy guest to new friends. For tips on how long you'll need to prepare and how to tidy up after the party, read on!

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