Planning a party consists of paying attention to details, staying organized, and most of all, have fun. Here are a few tips that will help you throw a great bash, and have fun too!
A great party does not happen on its own. Decide what kind of party you will have, how many guests you wish to invite, what recipes you will prepare, and what you will need to purchase in the way of food, liquor, napkins, plates, etc.
For beverages, the amount of punch or number of cocktails or beers a guest will drink varies. Allow for the length of the party, the strength of the beverage, the day of the week, and adjust your figure accordingly. The basic party planning rules-of-thumb are:
Be very conscientious about guests not driving home when intoxicated. This is first and foremost, be sure there is a designated driver, a place for guests to sleep over if necessary, or call a cab.
Figure 10 people to the gallon when serving punch. That's a fairly conservative estimate, assuming your guests will drink about three 4-ounce servings during the party. This could be an adult punch with alcohol, or a fruity alcohol free type punch.
Cocktails: Figure that your guests may consume 2 drinks per person per hour for the first 2 hours and 1 drink per person per hour after that.
One 12-ounce beer is considered one serving. Consider having several different brands so guests have a choice between a light beer and dark beer.
Be sure to also offer non alcoholic beverages for those who choose not to drink alcohol.
When stocking your bar for a small party, purchase at least one 750-mil bottle each of scotch, rum, bourbon, tequila, vodka and gin. Each bottle contains about 16 1 1/2-ounce shots.
Stock mixers such as club soda, lime juice and other fruit juices, tonic water, and non-alcoholic beer in small bottles. That way unopened bottles can be saved for future use.
Stock 1 pound of ice per person if the drinks need to be iced. Twice that much will be needed for an outdoor, summer time party, or if the party lasts a long time.
Figure about 4 cocktail napkins (or 2 linen napkins) per person per hour.
Stock enough glasses that your guests can trade a dirty one for a clean one at least once.
Serving food at your party can consist of snacks, an array of desserts, buffet style meal, full on sit down dinner, and every and anything in between.
Be sure to keep cold foods cold, by nestling the serving dish in a bed of ice. Be aware that foods that contain dairy, meat or eggs cannot stay on the table for hours at a time. That is just asking for bacteria to form.
Go for a range of flavors, tastes and textures. By giving your guests a variety of choices will allow for everyone to enjoy themselves.
Prepare what foods you can ahead of time. This will allow you to enjoy yourself as well, without driving yourself crazy.
For a great party planning checklist, check out Real Simple's article at http://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/entertaining/party-planning-checklist.