How to Throw a Successful Party

Having worked in Hollywood for nearly 30 years, I've been to all kinds of parties... not just birthdays, weddings & anniversaries; but also to tons of "Wrap Parties" ~ a special party thrown at the end of Filming a Movie to celebrate the completion of all that hard work.  Inevitably the Stars, Director and Producers are all there... but these are really for the Film Crews that have worked such long and hard hours (14 hour days for weeks & months are the norm) to create the film.

In my profession as an Art Director & Location Scout I've attended dozens of these parties over the years and have worked with and met some big names in the business (Brad Pitt; Clint Eastwood; Jim Carey; Robert Redford; etc.).

With that kind of perspective on "Professionally-staged Parties," I can tell you some secrets to throwing a party that will be such a success, that it will be "the talk" of all your friends... and as the "buzz" spreads, their friends will undoubtedly be begging them to be invited to any party that you might throw in the future.

So, what makes a good party great?  First off, it's gotta' be FUN!  We're not talking about a "standing around in your living room with cocktails” business meeting.  If THAT's the type of party you're looking for information on, move on... as there's nothing here for such a run-of-the-mill (and ultra-dry) event like that embedded in this Factoidz information.

Having participated in the planning of some really HUGE parties (if you think 5,000 guests is huge)... and having seen some highly-paid Professional Party Planners at work & in action, here's a tip that'll work even if your planned event is for less than a dozen people and you’re on a very limited budget.

Pick a theme.  Believe me, this doesn't mean you have to empty your bank account or clean out the nearest ATM to throw a great party.  By "theme" I'm only suggesting that you do something other than call up and invite a bunch of your friends over for drinks or dinner.

First of, send them an “Invitation” to your theme party. You don’t have to go out on an expensive invitation… Just send out a simple Xerox covered with “clip-art” or images that you’ve “pulled off the web” to reinforce the theme of your party.

If you’re inviting friends who’ve never been to your home, include a map & “map-quest” directions… it’s a professional touch and will be greatly appreciated.

So here are a couple “Party Themes” that I’ve seen work… themes that really create a fun and festive party atmosphere:

A Hawaiian Theme “Luau” ~ Insist in your “Tropical Invitation” that your male guests wear Hawaiian style shirts and that the women wear Kimonos, Sarongs or “Muumuu” style dresses.

To help set the mood for your arriving guests, rent some oil burning “Tiki- Torches” to illuminate your walk-way up to the front door (check on-line or your yellow pages for a local “party rental” company). These are pretty standard & inexpensive rental items for a “party rental” vendor and they often will arrange to deliver and pick them up for you. (Be sure to buy the oil for the lamps!)

As your guests arrive, give each one a “Hawaiian Flower Lei” to wear. Any “Party Supply” store will have a variety of colorful “Hawaiian Leis” (in this case, made of silk flowers)… and they make a fun (& inexpensive) souvenir for your guests to remember the evening.

Go on-line to get recipes for Tropical Drinks (Mai-Thais; Blue Hawaiians; Pina Coladas; etc.). If you don’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen, go to a Chinese or Asian “take-out” restaurant (like Panda Express) to get all your food. Unless you Love to “slave away” in the kitchen, this will make your party a lot more fun for you and a lot less stress-free.

If you do prefer to cook your own meals, Costco has a wide selection of Asian & Thai food that is easy to prep by tossing into the micro-wave.

Set up a table to serve your food on as a buffet. Include “chop sticks” and pick up some “festive-looking” paper plates & napkins at your Party Supply vendor.

To help set a soothing “Tropical Party Mood” replace some of your Living Room light bulbs with Blue, Turquoise or Green light bulbs. And as an added touch, have Hawaiian music playing on your stereo.

Have a DVD of “South Pacific” playing on your TV for a fun & subtle effect; and burn a “Jasmine” scented incense or “plug-in” room freshener to add to the over-all tropical atmosphere.

Depending on your budget, you can take it from there and if you really want to go all out, talk with your local Florist about tropical floral arrangements and decorations. Ask your Florist if they have access to “Silk” tropical arrangements that can be “rented” (for far less money that having “living” floral arrangements). This theme makes for a great “summer time” party, especially if you have a pool.

Another fun idea is to throw a “Western-theme” BBQ Party. Have your "invites" insist that everyone wears their best “Western Duds” (cowboy boots & shirts are mandatory!). Add Country Western music & a John Wayne DVD on the TV.

Weather permitting, staging this outdoors “Buffet-style” (with quality paper plates and a red & white checkerboard plastic table cloth) is the way to go as it’s the easiest way to clean up after it’s all over.  Again, check with your local Party Supply vendor to see what other decorations or party favors they have available to fit within your budget.  "Bales of Hay" make for great outdoor seating.

Depending on your budget and the amount of time & effort you (and your guests) are willing to put in to this will determine the final payoff and success of your party.

Any type of “costume party” (especially when it’s not Halloween) makes for a fun party. Having prizes for the best costume; best couples; funniest; etc. is an open invite for your guests to show off their creativity.

In nearly any city you’ll find at least one, if not a few, “costume rental houses” that will be delighted to rent fantastic costumes out of season, especially as the only time of the year that they’re busy is during Halloween.

The whole point here is for you to inspire your guests to have fun and a good time. By inviting couples, and playing appropriate music, dancing should be encouraged. And as this is a time to relax and have fun, any one of a number of “group games” (such as “charades”) will always make it a fun event every one of your guests will enjoy and remember.

And as your party will undoubtedly be a success, make it an “Annual Event” and watch how the word-of-mouth quickly spreads about the great “bash” at your place.


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