You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to throw a beautiful, memorable party. With these very simple and super quick tips, you can create a party mood—and with no stress, no fuss, and no expensive decorations! The secret is in the planning. Experienced party planners and veteran party hosts share their tips.
Choose a theme
When people hear the word ‘theme’ they immediately assume it takes a lot of work and creativity. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, think of themes as a way to simplify your options and to pull together the look of the room and the menu, so even if you buy all the food from a store and barely have time to decorate, your party still looks ‘polished.’ Some simple themes are ‘Black and White’ (which can help you decide what kind of plates to use, what your guests can wear, and what flowers to buy) or ‘Summer at the Beach’ (have guests come in summer dresses, choose a tropical menu, and serve drinks with umbrellas—how easy is that?)
And don’t feel you have to go all-out with the theme. For example, a Fourth of July party can be as complicated as making tiny flags and decorating the entire room in All-American colors, or as simple as telling people to come in either red or blue or white, serving classic American food like burgers and milkshakes.
Choose the best time
Your theme not only helps guide your menu and décor, it can also determine the time of the party. Generally people expect brunches and mid-afternoon parties to be laid back and relaxed. So, if you’re pressed for time, consider holding the party during the day time, and set up a buffet of easy-to-eat, no-fuss foods like frittatas, finger sandwiches, and crackers with dip.
Choose your guest list
Mix friends who you think will get along and you won’t have to worry about entertaining them yourself the whole time. (Read our tips on how to keep party guests happy.)
Make a playlist
Music is a powerful mood-maker. Instead of spending a fortune on décor, put together an appropriate playlist. For example, play jukebox music at your Fourth of July party. It will evoke more nostalgia for old Americana than, say, decking your home to look like a classic diner.
Read our party planning tips for an elegant New Year’s Dinner and Halloween party.