Throwing a party in March and looking for ideas, suggestion, or themes?  In this two-part series, I thought I’d share some tips for hosting a fantastic bash.  Part One will consist of handy advice and suggestions that I’ve picked up from others or from experience.  Part Two will be specific theme parties for March, with ideas for decorations, food, and more.

I absolutely adore hosting events, especially theme parties.  Some of my past celebrations still live in infamy.  There was the 1920’s Great Gatsby-themed garden party in 2005 which is still raved about today.  Or the Halloween event of 2006 which still has people referring to other attendees by their costumes, even almost two years later.  Or the summer luau of 2007, where we hung a 6 foot inflatable monkey outside of our window which is now frozen in time on Google maps . . .

The tips below can help with any event at any time of year, with any number of guests.  It is mostly aimed for parties you would have at your home.  Let me know if you want to read tips for parties at public areas or other houses (like a shower or surprise birthday party), and I’ll be glad to create a Part Three.

March-ing and Spring-ing Into Party Planning, Part I
Golden Rules to Remember:

  • Create a theme!  A theme is a great incentive for people to attend.  Plus, if you suggest guests come dressed in easy-to-find costumes or accessories, then it will increase the interest level. 
  • The Half-Guest Rule.  For all of the guests you invite, half will attend.  This rule is harder to follow for parties under 10, but is pretty much true for parties at 15 and above.  If you want 40 people to arrive, invite 80.
  • Cleaning.  This is key, but if time is an issue, then only clean the main rooms people use – the kitchen, bathroom, and living room.  Make sure to focus on the areas most popularly used at parties, such as the kitchen counters, the kitchen and bathroom sinks, the toilet, and the fridge.  Throwing a party is a great incentive to clean out your fridge; you want to make sure you have plenty of room for guests to put the beverages & perishable snacks they bring.
  • Keep the kitchen the cleanest.  For some unknown reason, regardless of the size of your place, everyone gathers in the kitchen at parties.  Make sure this room is in tip-top shape – you don’t want to scare off guests with your pasta crumbs from last week’s dinner!
  • Prepare all elements.  Pretend you are a guest.  Or think of the best and worst parties you’ve been to.  Start from arrival to departure – what did you need as a guest?  Or what was in place for you that worked?
    • Details count to make guests comfortable.  Especially if you are blending groups that don’t know each other well.  You want them to be at ease as soon as they walk in the door.  Consider the weather, too.  Make sure there is a place for coats, boots, and purses or overnight bags.  Lay out plenty of garbage cans and a place for empty bottles.  Stock up on toilet paper and water bottles.  Set out multiple bottle and wine openers.  Ask your guests to take their coats and offer them a drink as soon as they walk in the door.
    • Be easy to find!  Give out details about finding your place, nearby parking, and significant landmarks (basically, anything they won’t get from Mapquest).
    • Set out ice breaker games.  Invest in basic, fun games like Taboo, Apples to Apples, UNO, or even regular playing cards.  It’s a great way to have guests who don’t know many people at the party interact.
  • Music is crucial.  If going with a theme, then make half of the playlist related to the theme (Irish jigs, Dropkick Murphys and the Pogues for a St. Patrick’s Day party, etc.).  It’s a good idea to make the other half of the playlist well known, mid-tempo Top 40 songs.  Your best shot?  Use songs popular the year that your guests graduated high school and/or college.  (Wikipedia offers some great lists if you need song ideas.)
  • Get yourself together.  If the party start time comes faster expected, make sure to get yourself ready first.  Then finish setting out food and cleaning.  Especially if you have a theme, you’d hate to be half dressed when guests start arriving.  If you’re ready but still slicing veggies, you can always recruit them to help.  It will make them feel more comfortable as the first arrivals, too.
  • Go cheap and creative!  Colored plastic tablecloths help with easy cleanup and add a quick splash of color.  Don’t be afraid to use them on side tables or to cover air conditioners.  Other suggestions:
    • For a luau theme, turn a kids’ inflatable pool into a cooler.  Use a hollowed out watermelon to hold candy & treats.
    • For a SuperBowl or other sports themed party, do a Google image search and print out colored images of the team logo.  Cut out the logo and plaster your walls with the images.
  • Keep an eye out.  Monitor food and drinks.  As the night wears on, refill food dishes and chip bowls, and toss out empty bottles and containers. 
  • Go for the unusual.  For maximum guest attendance, choose a less popular holiday, such as Presidents’ Day, an awards show, or a random summer weekend for a luau or fiesta.  Try to avoid major holidays and their corresponding weekends where you would run into serious competition, such as Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s.
  • Avoid duplicates.  For every guest that asks what they should bring, tell each one a different item.  This will help avoid having 10 bags of the same flavor of Doritos (though they are always a guaranteed party hit, they can get tiresome!). 

Stay tuned for Part Two . . .