From kids’ birthdays to wild nights out, parties are a huge part of our culture, bringing people together in celebration. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, it may not be possible to host a party in person right now, but there are still ways to lift people’s spirits and different types of parties you can host. After all, if 2020’s foray into virtual events taught us anything, it’s that we don’t always need to meet in person to create an epic vibe. And soon, we may be able to throw a good old-fashioned party again – just with a few extra health and safety measures. In any case, here are our top tips for how to throw a party in 2021.
Choose a theme – and stick to it
Having a theme for your event – be it retro gaming, cheesy pop, or masquerade – can bring a unique energy to your party. It can also draw attention from the press, who often look out for more interesting events to cover in their “What’s On?” pages. Ask your audience to dress according to the theme and make sure your venue and entertainment matches it, too. For example, at a nostalgic gaming night, opt for an ’80s soundtrack and a neon colour scheme. The more unique the theme, the better, so we’ve put together 72 event themes to give you some party ideas.
Offer a unique experience
When planning to throw a party, the ultimate goal is to keep your guests talking for years to come. You also want them to tell their friends, and for everyone to be excited about your next soiree. If you can, start by finding a one-of-a-kind venue – old art deco cinemas, penthouses, even a super yacht if you have the right contact. With online events, consider using a virtual venue – in which attendees are turned into avatars – rather than a video conferencing platform so that guests can really immerse themselves in the experience.
Remember to give your event a hook – the thing that makes people decide it’s unmissable. This could be karaoke with a live band, a silent disco, or a live murder mystery taking place throughout.
Make sure it’s accessible
Parties are best when everyone can enjoy themselves, so for in-person events, it’s important to consider accessibility when choosing your venue. That doesn’t just mean making sure people with wheelchairs can navigate the building easily. It can also mean having gender-neutral toilets, breakout spaces for people with anxiety, and good public transport links for people who don’t drive.
Accessibility isn’t just an in-person concern, either. Even when you organise a party online, you need to consider how to make it a virtual safe space. Set up closed captions (subtitles) if possible, allow people to keep their webcam and microphone off if they’d rather, and choose easy-to-use software that everyone can access for free.
Appeal to your crowd
Your event doesn’t need to cater to everyone’s tastes. You should have a target audience in mind and understand what’s in it for them. So if you’re throwing a James Bond-style casino night, people will have the chance to dress up and flash some cash at the roulette table. When you’re writing the event description for your party, think about why people should come and what they’ll do during the evening. Tap into these ideas when you’re considering how and where to advertise, be it on social media, in the press, or through physical flyers.
Get the party started by making it interactive
The first hour of any party can be a little awkward as everyone settles in and gets warmed up, so try introducing ice-breaker games or quickfire check-in rounds. Don’t force people to participate – this can push them back into their shells. Let the extroverts dive in, and soon the atmosphere will build itself. It’s also a good idea to source some song requests when guests sign up for the event. That way, you can kick things off by playing popular tracks guaranteed to get people on the dance floor.
Source great entertainment
Whether it’s a live band, dancers, or a magic show, your entertainment is the thing people are most likely to remember once the party’s over. There are lots of entertainment ideas to choose from, but it’s best to go for something that fits your theme, be it cabaret singers or carnival performers. And when you’re running through your party planning checklist, have a think about how the event will flow. For example, have a DJ on hand to play music between sets, so that there’s no dead air during the night.
Consider the energy of each act, too – know when you want the night to peak. People are likely to be excited at this point and won’t have the attention span to dedicate to non-music acts. This is when they want to hit the dance floor (even if, for virtual events, it’s just in their living room). Remember to have an hour or so of winding down before the party ends, slowly moving from upbeat classics to more relaxed numbers.
Hire a strong team
Even if you’re a one-person operation, you can’t expect to do everything by yourself. Hiring staff will help to keep things orderly. If you want to organise a party online, it’s a good idea to have a moderator to handle comments and tech issues while you concentrate on hosting.
For in-person events, you’ll need someone on the door to welcome your guests, someone behind the bar to keep drinks topped up, and someone on hand to help with any questions or first aid. Sometimes the staff will be supplied by the venue, but, on other occasions, you might need to hire an agency. Make sure everyone’s dressed the same so that partygoers can immediately find them. Most importantly, hire a big enough team to suit your audience size. The last thing you want is 25-minute waits for drinks because not enough bar staff were brought on board.
Extend the experience
A top tip for throwing an epic party? Make the experience last far longer than the big night. Start by building up the audience anticipation gradually on your social media channels. Create lots of fun shareable links, and host competitions to reach an even wider audience and build attendance.
On the night itself, have a professional photographer or videographer on site – these images will make for great marketing tools in the future. Guests can share the pictures on their own social media profiles, and you can use the content in future video promotion. At virtual events, ask for permission from guests to use a screen recorder. If anyone’s uncomfortable with having their photo taken or appearing on video, give them a heads-up to turn off their webcam before you start.
Throw the best party with a party planning checklist
It may counteract the anarchic spirit of parties, but the most important of our party hosting tips and tricks is to ensure that you plan properly and stay organised. Download our event planning template to stay on track and bring the best party vibes.