I've been to a lot of parties and thrown a fair few in my time. They take a lot of planning - and in the midst of figuring out where you're going to throw it, who you're going to invite and how you're going to decorate, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.
What I've learned in my time is not to worry - your friends and family love you and will simply appreciate the time spent with you in a fun environment. As long as you've got some food and drink, music and enough space to swing a cat or two, you've got everything you need for a great party.
Having said that, the parties I've been to that stand out in my memory as greater than great, are parties that encouraged the guests to do more than talk, or dance.
There were activities and designated areas for those activities.
Whenever you got bored of doing one thing, you'd turn around and there was something else to take your attention.
I know this sounds like a lot of work to execute, but it's actually the tiniest of details that can do this for a party.
A little bit of extra thought goes a long way for games and activities
I can't tell you how many times I've entered a party full of people I didn't know, feeling super awkward and shy, and left feeling like I'd made 50 new best friends after a few rounds of games.
However, these weren't just any games. They were more like group activities and challenges that encouraged everyone to mingle while having a good laugh at the same time. My favourite example was a birthday party for a good friend of mine. As we arrived, she gave each person a dare-type challenge that they had to complete by the end of the night.
They were silly, but fun challenges like taking a selfie with a bouncer or getting a hug from a stranger. It was so funny watching everyone complete their dares, and it really did bring everyone together because we all ended up helping each other to complete our challenges. But the best part of the game was that it had the host's personality written all over it!
If your party is made up of people that know each other well, why not plan a special group activity that you can all do together? My friend threw another unforgettable party where she surprised us all with Chinese lanterns to release at midnight.
Everyone had to get into pairs to do it, and we all made wishes before we let ours go. It was such a nice touch and a lovely way to bring everyone together. There was also some comedy involved as well as one of the guest's lanterns caught fire!
It's officially the selfie-era and no party is complete without some great photos to commemorate the occasion. The last few parties I've been to have had hired photo booths complete with wigs and props. These kept everyone entertained for hours!
Of course, hiring a photo booth is not a possibility for everyone, but something I've found to work just as well is a designated, Instagram-friendly spot where guests can gather to get some great photos. You don't have to go too crazy with this - as long as there's a white background, it will be used and loved!
Another thing you can put a personal spin on is decorations. I like to make decorations a talking point when I throw a party! There will always be the usual balloons and banners but I'll also always include something that represents me, like a funny blown up photo of me or whoever I'm throwing the party for. Novelty balloons can be pretty awesome as well. Don't be afraid to get creative with your decorations - it's fun for you and for your guests!
Food, glorious food
A good party always has food - but a great party makes food the main attraction! Any fans of the 90s sitcom, Friends, will remember when Phoebe was put in charge of cups and ice at a house party and got her revenge by making snow cones out of them. She had the right idea - an edible centrepiece will always set your party miles apart from the rest.
The last party I went to had a chocolate fountain - it looked absolutely delicious and everyone loved it. You can get inexpensive, mini chocolate fountains on Amazon if you'd like to add a touch of decadence to your next party, but getting creative with food doesn't have to cost a penny.
I attended another party where the host had chopped up a bunch of different fruit for cocktails and presented it all beautifully. There were more people taking pictures of the fruit than drinking the cocktails!
As they say - the devil is in the details. You don't need hundreds in the bank to throw a great party - all you need is a little creativity and a personal touch!