5 Key Steps of Planning a Party that Everyone Raves About

*phone rings*

(it’s 2pm on a Tuesday, why is my Dad calling me…)?

“hey dad, what’s up?”

“Did you make it home safe from the party this weekend?”

“yeah, we got in this morning. flight was delayed because of the snow, but we’re here now. what’s up?”

Dad: “I just wanted to thank you so much for the birthday this weekend. I know that I was a little hesitant about having it, but I had so much fun and honestly so many of my friends have texted and called me about the party and how incredible it was. They said it was one of the best parties they’ve been to in a while.”

Me: “AH! I had so much fun! Your friends were so great! I’d say let’s do it again, buttttt…you only turn 70 once!”

***brb while I hide this blog post from my dad because I wasn’t supposed to share that he turned 70 and here I am doing a whole blog post about it. oops!

(or…the conversation went something like this, since I was walking our puppy in the snow when he called!)

celebrate the damn thing

As a wedding content creator, one of my biggest takeaways about life in the past few years is that celebrations are vital. Making a big deal out of any and every thing is so important because time with others really lifts people up. Yes, even you introverts! I work in weddings, which is (we hope) a once in a lifetime celebration. You spend years planning and prepping for that big day. You always hear people talk about it being ‘the best day of your life!’ which – duh, obviously – you’re getting to marry someone you love. But it’s as much a great day because you took time to intentionally celebrate a big milestone.

⬆️ that part, right there: ‘intentionally celebrating a big milestone in your life’ is important whether it’s a wedding, a new addition to your family – hello new baby or furry friend! – a promotion you’ve been working hard at, a birthday, or just living your life and surviving! All of the above, and more, are worth celebrating. As individuals, we crave quality time with our people. Being present around your loved ones is a great exchange for those fleeting phone calls, text messages, or randomly-exchanged memes in DMs. Being intentional about it will always, always be worth the party planning. Because of that, I try to plan parties a lot.

Listen, does part of me find party planning so fun? Yes!

And do I love a good photo and video moment? Also yes!

But it’s more about creating a place and a space to help create memories for myself and my loved ones to look back on fondly, years later! I’ve acquired a certain reputation among family and friends for pulling out all the stops!

So, lots of my friends and family ask me to plan parties for them. Also if you’re new around here, I’m very Type A in most areas of life. This means I love to think through and plan for all the little details and moments.

The devil, as they say, lies in the details.

If you’ve never heard that quote before it basically means you should really pay attention to all you do and it’s a good thing to remember when trying to celebrate something fun.

When it comes to party planning, there are 5 key steps that I use for every single party, no matter if it is a large celebration for a milestone birthday, (fyi we’re going to Mexico this year for John Michael’s milestone birthday so stay tuned for more details!), if it’s a 70th birthday in my parents neighborhood gathering space, or even if I’m hosting a dinner party at my place. It will always be these same 5 steps regardless of the money spent or you’re completely DIY-ing the entire thing. I just gave my Dad his topic of coffee conversation with his friends for the next 6 months, so let’s get into how I did it!

Picking a personality

What is really important here is to understand who is celebrating vs who is being celebrated.

When you are planning anything, there are always going to be a lot of emotions tied into it. You might be spending a lot of time planning, a decent amount of money, and a lot of energy on this party. So remembering this + the hosting dynamic isn’t something you want to forget.

For my Dad’s birthday, I was the one in charge of all the details, the people that were coming to celebrate him were his closest friends and family so I really wanted it to be a good experience for them, and obviously my Dad was the one being celebrated, so I wanted him to just show up on the day of without a worry in the world. 

If you’re throwing yourself a party or inviting people into your space, it’s easy to be like, “This is my day!” or “This is all about me!” but you have to recognize that while you may be the one being celebrated, it’s just as much about the people that are taking the time out of their day and schedules to be with you. They might even be spending some good money on making it there, or could be somewhere else celebrating someone else, so make it memorable!

Okay so one of the biggest pet peeves I see with weddings is when some things are left up in the air and people have questions. Thinking about these dynamics at play before you deal with texts flying about what is going down that day.

Some things to think through: Who is hosting? Is it in someone’s space? At your house? Do you need to rent a venue? Are people bringing gifts to this party? If that answer is yes, do you want the person to open them in front of people or no? If you’re doing dinner, do you need a reservation? Do you want people to pay for their meal themselves or are you taking care of it? Is there a dress code? Do people need to have somewhere to stay or a way to get back to their place?

Lots of things to think through so it leaves nothing unanswered. People are more likely to show up if they know what to expect and don’t anticipate feeling awkward when the bill comes at dinner and they don’t know if they should speak up to pay their part or not. Be respectful of what you are asking people to do, bring with them, or be a part of.

For my Dad’s birthday, we were the ones hosting it which means my phone was blowing up with:

“What time is the food being delivered?”

“Where is the big table going?”

“Do you have a cord to plug this in?”

“Where are the cake plates?”

I obviously wanted it this way so my Dad could just show up and not worry about anything other than enjoying himself. For this party, we were in our DIY era with a bunch of projects like flowers and signs to tie it all together. More on that later.


Again, really make sure you are thinking about what the personality is before you come up with activities for your guests to do. They don’t need to be anything extravagant or fancy, but games are a good ice breaker.

Unless you have a really solid friend group that gets together regularly, you’re likely going to have a lot of people there that don’t know each other with only one common denominator – the person being celebrated. That person obviously can’t be right next to the guests all night long, so if you come up with an activity that they can focus on, it just helps to dial down the awkwardness of it all.

More passive activities are good for those introverted guests. A personal favorite of mine will always be a photo booth. It can be used as the ‘center’ of attention + it gives people something to take home as a favor – always a win win!

For my Dad’s birthday, we did ‘Tony’s Birthday Stumper” which was a crossword puzzle with clues about him. The fun thing about an activity like this is that the clues can be all over the place. Some of the answers only his friends would know, some his kids, or some his siblings – so it sort of forces people to chat and loosen up a bit. I recommend a crossword puzzle to a lot of my wedding clients too! At one point, I remember walking round the party and hearing his neighbor, one of my Dad’s sisters, and my brother trying to solve the crossword together

We also had some active type activities here too – but I’m touching on that more in the next tip!

Personal Touches

I might do things a little differently here than other people planning a party, but this tip goes back to really making sure you know the person you are celebrating and how you can add small details to make it even more fun. We’re talking favorite foods, hobbies, foods they love – and figuring out a way to make all of those things tie together to add to their day.

My Dad hates alligators – as most people do. But he’s an avid golfer. So there’s a big, running joke that he’s always texting me or his friends about seeing an alligator on the course. A normal golfer fear, right? But obviously that means I got him an alligator cake, because why wouldn’t I?

We added Chippo, a golf game, outside with a game of corn hole next to it so people could play either of those. My Dad’s favorite drink is a medicine ball, so we turned this little personal touch into a take home favor (ALWAYS a great, solid idea!) We included ingredients, a recipe card, and little extras that he always adds to his own medicine ball.

Just spend some time thinking here about the things your person loves. Is it a sport or place? Maybe it’s a certain food or a celebrity? My Dad loves Bruce Lee, so we had a cutout there that people could take pictures with. It doesn’t have to be anything super crazy!


When it comes to a theme, it’s totally not something you HAVE to do. It’s common for people to start with this, and go from there. But I find that pretty restrictive when it comes down to adding all of the personalizations to it. If you’re dead set on a theme, go with it! But thinking through the person you are celebrating is much more beneficial.

Maybe it’s just a simple 70th birthday theme. Themes are great, and are super fun to feel like you’re tying your party up with a little bow. But you can do that without a theme too! For this party, we really leaned into the blacks and whites with gold accents. We ended up with a fun drink menu that we got to keep on ‘theme’ using those colors, plus the other personalizations around the rest of the day.

Invites are a fun way to communicate this theme with guests. Plus they are so fun. Arguably a favorite part of wedding planning for me! An invite is like the equivalent of meeting someone for the first time, you want that first impression to be an epic one that people are going to drill into their brain. We’ve done them all – printed and mailed, text invites, or Partiful where you can create your own event page.

An invite is also such a good place to communicate the dress code of your party too. If you want people to be comfy, share that so you don’t have someone show up in black tie attire and vice versa.


I KNOW, I GET IT, I’m a wedding content creator so OBVIOUSLY I think capturing the event is important. BUT that doesn’t mean that it has to be captured by a professional photographer or anything. It can be as simple as making sure you snap some iphone shots beforehand and some moments throughout the party.

By this point, you probably know I love a good guest book and I’m forever going to share fun ways to preserve your party memories this way! Maybe you have a polaroid camera out and have everyone add their pictures to a jar – makes for a cute thing to leave out on your coffee table as a conversation piece.

For this party we had everyone add a photo from the photo booth to a book with a bunch of fun stickers they could add to jazz up their page. They included some of my Dad’s favorite activities like martial arts, soccer, the beach, etc. Dad was really making it his whole personality to remind everyone throughout the party to make sure they added a page, he was super into it!

Earlier this year we planned a friends birthday dinner and had everyone write a card to them. At dinner, we presented them with the handwritten cards from everyone. A guest book is another area where you don’t have to go overboard! It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant, it’s just a fun way to look back on such an awesome memory and have a way to document the day.

Think back to a time when you have heard someone rave about an event. Often times it’s not really about the food (unless you’re a major foodie like John Michael!), the decor, or the smells. It’s usually about how the whole day made them feel. Did you hit on some big emotions? Was there lots of laughing and joyful moments? One of the biggest keys to success in party planning is always to think about you can not only celebrate the person, but also celebrate the people who are attending. Your guest list will always be full if people had a great time and want to join another party you are throwing.

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