Party Planning

So, you want to throw a party. That's great, but have you ever done it before? Do you know exactly what planning the perfect party entails?

For some, hosting a party doesn't mean much more than throwing together a few appetizers and letting the guests bring their own libations. For others, it can be a whole catered shindig that has been planned to the last minute details, like the color of the tablecloths and which crystal is used for which drink.

Before you start to make yourself crazy trying to hash out all the details, sit down, figure out what kind of party you want to have, and write down everything you'll need.

Here are some scenarios that might fit the type of party you plan to host:

  • Want to have the guys over to watch the game or play a few hands of poker. You won't need to do much more than order a few pizzas, open some bags of chips, and crack open a party ball.


  • If you want a more intimate night with the girls, dishing on your love lives and swapping the latest gossip, then a few easy appetizers, bottles of everyone's favorite wine, and some sweets are perfect for the night.


  • A BBQ with 20 or so of your closest friends and family is as easy as grilling up enough burgers and dogs to feed the crowd, putting out bowls and chips and dip, hitting up your local bakery for cookies and brownies, and offering up several ice chests filled with beer, wine coolers, and maybe some Mike's Hard Lemonade.


  • But, what if what you plan to host is a huge party, with say, 50, 75, 100, or even more people? Then, you have a lot of planning to do. A lot! Because, really, if you want your party to be a success, you need to make sure your guests are well-fed, always have a full glass, and leave thinking you are the party-throwing king or queen!


The first thing you need to do is decide who you want to invite to your party and then send out the invitations. Make it easy on yourself and send them via the computer if you can. Put a date on the invite that is at least one week before your party so that you give yourself plenty of time for the last minute planning. There, one annoyance is out of the way. Now you have to wait for the RSVPs.

Once all your RSVPs have come in, you can start planning for food and drinks. Just make sure to plan for at least 10 more people than the final RSVP count to take into consideration anyone who didn't respond and shows up anyway or finds that they can make it after all.

Now that you have a number to work with you can figure out how much alcohol you'll need to keep everyone's thirst in check. You definitely want to make sure that you have more than enough, because the last thing you want to do is run out of alcohol. Running out of food can easily be remedied by having take-out delivered. But, sending out people who have already been drinking to stock up on more beer is a no-no.

Keep in mind that you'll need a good variety of alcohol to ensure that everyone has a choice of something they like. It's a good idea to have a selection of beers, wine, and hard alcohols (such as vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, scotch, etc.) and the ingredients they correspond with to make favorite recipes.

Oh, and don't forget about those who might be underage or non-drinkers. Pick up a few cases of water and soda for them. To figure out just how much you need, here are some calculations that may help:

  • Beer: One bottle/can is one serving. A keg holds the equivalent of 140 cans or 151 bottles.


  • Wine: A 750ml bottle contains 5 drinks. A 1000ml bottle contains 7. A 1500ml bottle contains 10. A 4000ml bottle contains 28. And, a 3L cask can easily serve 20 people.


  • Spirits: A 750ml bottle can serve 41 nips or 17-1.5 ounce glasses. A 1140ml bottle can serve 26-1.5 ounce drinks. And a 1750ml bottle can serve 41-1.5 ounce drinks.


In order to figure out a ballpark number of how much you should purchase, figure out how many guests you will have and multiply the number by how many drinks you want to allot for each person

For example, if you'l have 100 guests, and want each guest to be able to have 4 servings of beer, then you'll need at least 400 bottles or 3 kegs. Or, if you will have 50 guests and want to provide each with 2 glasses of wine, then you'll need a minimum of 20-750ml bottles of wine.

Not sure which hard liquors to choose or which drinks people might want? Keep it simple and serve easy drinks like Jack and Coke, Vodka and Cranberry, or Whiskey Sours that can be created with a pre-made mixer. Or, mix up a crowd pleasing batch of something large, like jungle juice. Many people like it and it can definitely serve a crowd.

If you have done your calculations but still aren't sure, err on the side of caution and buy more than you really need. Remember, it's better to have too much than not enough.

The drinks themselves aren't the only things that are important. You'll need something to serve them in, as well as other accessories. Don't bother trying to buy enough wine glasses for 100 people. Plastic throw-away versions are just as good and easy to dispose of when everyone leaves. The same is true with shot glasses and cups for beer. Plastic, disposable versions are best. You'll also want to pick up extra corkscrews, bottle openers, straws, swizzle sticks, and coasters to ensure that everyone is happy. And don't forget the ice. Get as many bags as your freezer can hold. And, if need be, fill a few empty coolers with ice so you have plenty to go around.

You have the drinks figured out, but what about food? If you have the money, have it all catered. Or, save a few bucks and buy pre-made hors d'oeuvres that can easily be heated and served. Not a fancy party? Chips, dips, pizza, sandwiches, and easy desserts will do just fine.

And remember, if you are serving alcohol, you are responsible for making sure that your guests get home safely. Let everyone have a good time, but don't let anyone's drinking get out of hand.

Have fun!