A 20-something’s guide to party planning

Coordinating a nice night for guests is no easy task. When those guests are college students with poor time management who prefer to drink out of red Solo cups, it becomes a-whole-nother beast.

From finalizing the guest list to accommodating those with allergies, putting together an event – whether it be a casual birthday party or sit down dinner – requires organization and careful planning. Luckily, Boca by Design’s Special Event Designer, Mariel Eldridge, is here to give you her input on how to throw a flawless affair.

Plan ahead.

Photo by Emily Creighton
Photo by Emily Creighton

By giving yourself a good month in advance, you can plan at your leisure and have more time to come up with fun and cool ideas.

Set a budget. 

If you can only afford to feed 10 people, don’t invite 30. Divy your funds up by food, drinks, decor and entertainment.

Pick out a date, time and theme.

Just make sure it doesn’t conflict with any other big events. If you choose to host your get-together on the same night as, say, the Super Bowl, consider making a theme surrounding it. Side note: Parties generally last around three hours.

Send out invites immediately.

Evite.com is an easy-to-use and cute way to send out invitations. | Screenshot by Emily Creighton
Evite.com is an easy-to-use and cute way to send out invitations. | Screenshot by Emily Creighton

There’s no need to wait for snail mail only to have it left under a stack of papers on the coffee table. Send out an electronic invite (try Evite or Facebook) for more timely responses.

Plan a menu. 

It can include fun, unique dishes, but be sure to add general items as well to accommodate dietary restrictions. This can include fruit platters and cheese plates. Also, have a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Pick out the decor.

Really bring your event together with some decorations. Just make sure you stay within your budget. For cost-effective items, hit up Homegoods and Tuesday Morning.

Recruit friends to help out.

Either have your guests contribute by bringing a dish or have someone come early to help prep. This’ll help minimize your stress. Just be sure to get them a little thank you gift!

Photo by Netanya Walton
Photo by Netanya Walton

Prep ahead of time.

Doing little things like preparing goodie bags three or four days in advance and setting the table the night before will leave you with less to do day-of.

Have a general timeline of the night.

By having an idea of what will happen when, you’re night will go smoother. For example, start with a self-serving drink and apps (by apps I mean appetizers, nothing on your phone) for the first hour of the night, then move onto dinner and so on.

Entertainment is necessary.

Whether you have elaborate game night or plan to just have background music playing, make sure you spend some time thinking about what will work best for your event. Also, keeping your timeline in mind, know what type of music suits each segment of the evening.