party planning ideas

10 Tips for Throwing an Epic Party at Home!

    A punch bowl is the center of a great party!     


A punch bowl is the center of a great party! 


I love to cook which also means I love to entertain! I grew up with lots of parties and my grandma would love to celebrate just about every holiday with a family get-together. I am lucky to have been around so many parties. Through the years of observing those parties and throwing lots of my own, I have 10 essential tips for throwing an epic party at home that I want to share with you! 


Tip #1: Serve a Meal

I have found that if you want people to stay and really enjoy and savor your party, it is best to serve a meal. The meal need not be fancy, complicated or expensive, but if you serve a meal, people will love your party! It can be as simple as a main dish, side dish & one platter such as veggies and fruit. Choose breakfast, lunch or dinner and you are set! If you want to be creative, focus on one special item to make, such as a cake, or the guest of honor's favorite main dish. I have learned through the years that it is best not to make more than one complicated dish for a party. That way, you can enjoy the party too! 

    A simple and beautiful berry bowl for a buffet party! 


A simple and beautiful berry bowl for a buffet party! 


Tip #2: Let Everyone Know when Food will be Served: 

It is important to note either on the invitation or when people arrive when the food will be served. If you already have your food ready, buffet style to be served when people arrive, you may let them know to help themselves to the food right away. If you are planning on having appetizers, please let everyone know when the main course is to be served. This helps people plan before coming to a party. 

Tip #3: Make Sure to Have Plenty of Drinks: 

Guests really appreciate having a selection of drinks to choose from and it makes them feel very welcome. Make sure to have a variety of sodas, (regular & diet) juice or punch for the kids, water and any other drinks you think guests might enjoy. 

Tip #4: Use Real Plates/Silverware: 

In an effort to save money on paper goods and also to reduce, reuse and recycle- it is a great idea to use real plates, silverware and cloth napkins as much as possible. At my son's last birthday party we did use paper plates, but we used real silverware and cloth napkins. This way, we didn't throw away a lot of plastic ware and we saved money on those goods so that we could provide more food and drinks. 

Tip #5: Set up A Busing/Recycling Station: 

Make sure that you have designated areas for guests to put their plates, cups and silverware when they are done with them. Also, make sure to set up bags/boxes for guests to deposit their empty cans and bottles for recycling. If you use paper products make sure there is also a trash can near the recycling/busing station. 

Tip #6: Have a Place for Guests to Store Coats/Purses: 

Plan ahead which room, closet or area you would like guests to store their coats, purses or bags. This will make it easier for you when guests ask where to put their things upon arrival. 

    Cupcakes are easy to make plenty of! 


Cupcakes are easy to make plenty of! 


Tip #7: Provide Snacks/Food for Adults & Kids: 

If you are having a party that is primarily for children, if adults are expected to stay with their child, make sure that they have food/snacks/drinks/a piece of cake or cupcake too. Parents are special guests too and they love it when they feel included. Make sure that your guest count includes both adults and kids for your food budget. 

Tip #8: Make Sure there is Plenty of Seating: 

Make sure there are plenty of chairs for people to sit in. When it is an indoor/outdoor party it works well to bring out your dining chairs as well as any folding chairs you may have. People feel most welcome when there are plenty of places to sit. 

    An example of the main elements of a party buffet: a main dish, a veggie platter, fruit platter and chips. 


An example of the main elements of a party buffet: a main dish, a veggie platter, fruit platter and chips. 

Tip #9: BBQ Tips:

If you are hosting a barbecue, please let guests know how long snack/appetizer hour will be. Make sure to let guests know when to expect the main barbecued foods to be ready. This is so very helpful so that guests know when to arrive and what to expect. 

Tip #10: Top 5 Items to Plan for: 

The following are the most important things to consider when planning a party:

1. Number of guests.

2. Time and Date

3. Theme/Occasion/Guest of Honor

4. Budget. 

5. Menu

If you plan for all of these ahead of time, you will know what to expect and so will your guests. When you begin planning your party, be sure to fill in the information for these 5 items and you will be well on your way to throwing an epic party!

Bonus Tip #11: Menu Planning: 

Here are some quick ideas for planning a party menu so that there will be plenty of choices for both adults and kids at your party. 

1. Main Dish: Pick a main dish that can be made ahead or purchased. 

2. Vegetable/Dip Platter: This is often a hit with kids and adults alike. Dress it up with different types of hummus. 

3. Fruit Bowl/Salad/Platter: Lots of people love fruit and it makes a great centerpiece. 

4. Chips/Crackers: These are often great to have to round out a meal and a great snack if you are waiting for barbecued meats to finish cooking on the grill. 

If you have those 4 elements at your party you will have plenty of variety and will be sure to have foods that guests will love. 

I hope you enjoyed this post and got some good tips! If you loved it pass it on to a friend who loves parties! 


Hosting a Party

    A beautiful fruit platter makes a great centerpiece that is also edible! 


A beautiful fruit platter makes a great centerpiece that is also edible! 

This summer has been one of celebration for me! I love throwing parties, making food for them and helping to host them. I was honored to help host two baby showers this summer within two weeks of each other. They were both wonderful parties and I learned a lot of tips that I want to pass on to you. These tips are great for baby showers as well as all kinds of other types of parties. 

    A pretty baby shower flower arrangement in a mason jar. 


A pretty baby shower flower arrangement in a mason jar. 


Tip #1: Get Help: I was fortunate that for both parties I was a co-hostess and didn't have to go it alone. If at all possible, if you are throwing a baby shower, bridal shower or any other type of party, ask friends and family for help. Lots of people love to pitch in, share dishes and share in tasks that they are especially good at. 

The first baby shower I helped to host was at my home. I had the help of my mom, sister in law, aunt and cousin. My mom and I sat down and came up with a general plan for the food, table arrangements, dishes to be served and what plates, silverware, napkins and other things we would need. 

The five of us divided up the shower duties: hosting, games, invitations, set-up and food. This worked very well because we all worked together to create a fabulous day for the mom-to-be! 

The second baby shower I helped with was for a dear friend. There were three of us working together on the shower. We divided the tasks evenly this way: 

Friend #1: Hosted at her house, helped buy decorations, made salad, made punch, helped set up for the party.

Friend #2: Was in charge of the games, thank you cards with stamps for the mom to be, helped set up for the party and made tea sandwiches and a vegetable/dip tray. 

I made sent the invitations, kept track of the responses, helped buy decorations, made the mini desserts and fruit platter and helped set up. 

In this way, we each had 5-6 tasks to do and it worked out so well! 

An added benefit is it is so much fun to work with friends and family on a party! Everyone can participate and add their special touch to the party. 

    The beautiful buffet spread for the baby shower. 


The beautiful buffet spread for the baby shower. 

Tip #2: Use What You Have:  It is a great idea to use serving pieces, plates and other items that you have on hand and that your friends and family have for a party instead of always buying new paper goods for each party. This is not only earth-friendly but budget friendly. 

Things you can use & borrow: 

  • plates
  • cloth napkins
  • cups
  • a punch bowl
  • coffee cups
  • silverware
  • tables
  • chairs
  • tablecloths

At both showers we were able to brainstorm items that we had or that others had and could bring for the party. It worked out well and made the party very special. 

    Cloth napkins tied with ribbon hold forks for the baby shower. 


Cloth napkins tied with ribbon hold forks for the baby shower. 

Tip #3: Get Creative and Have Fun with Your Party Platters! 

    Rainbow Flower Fruit Platter.


Rainbow Flower Fruit Platter.

Many parties have platters/salads on their menus. Why not get creative with what you serve on a platter. Use lots of colors of fruit, shapes & flavors of cheese and crackers and more. 

Above I created a flower motif out of fruit. Pictured below is my cheese platter with a heart for a baby shower. Have fun with the materials you have to work with and with the shape of your platters as well. 

   Heart Cheese Platter. 


Heart Cheese Platter. 


Tip #4: Make Your Menu Simple: Through the years I have hosted and helped with lots of parties. One important thing that I have learned is that you do not want to have a lot of complicated dishes to make. You may want to spend some time on one special dish, then make the rest of the dishes easy, like fruit platters, veggie platters and such. 

Here are the beautiful, simple menus for both baby showers: 

Baby Shower Menu #1: 

Chicken Salad

Cobb Salad & Dressing

Cheese/Cracker Platter

Fruit Platter

Iced Tea Punch, Lemonade & Coffee


Cream Cheese Brownies

Mint Shortbread Cookies

Fruit Tarts


Baby Shower Menu #2: 

Croissant Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Cucumber Dill Tea Sandwiches

Pea Salad

Fruit Platter

Vegetable/Dip Platter

Lemon Cheesecakes

Mini Smores Tarts

Peanut Butter Brownies

Blue Juice Punch, Water & Coffee

    Iced Tea Punch with an Tea Ice Ring. 


Iced Tea Punch with an Tea Ice Ring. 

Here is a simple template that will help you come up with a a general menu plan: 

1. Main dish/Cheese & Crackers

2. Salad

3. Fruit Platter

4. Vegetable Platter or other Salad

5. 2-3 mini desserts

6. 1-2 drink choices

I hope these tips and ideas help you to plan your next party. I post many party tips and ideas on Instagram. Make sure to follow me: @thecheerychef. I love to share ideas!