This year I will be doing a series about how to plan a party when you have no idea where to start. I’m super excited to share with all of you some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way on my party planning adventure. We started last month with how to choose a party theme. Once you choose your party theme you have an overall idea of what the party will be. The next step is to choose a party venue. In many cases, there is an obvious choice (your house), but there are definitely other options to consider if that won’t work out.
Option 1: Your House
This is the most obvious option because you have the most control over it. You know the space, you have access to your own kitchen and refrigerator, and you don’t need to pack anything up ahead of time. Of course, if you’re worried that your place isn’t big enough, don’t have enough room for parking, or have a bunch of moving boxes sitting around, there are many other options at your disposal.
Option 2: A Friend’s House
If you have a friend or family member that has better accommodations than you that is either willing to co-host the party or let you take over their house for an evening, this is another option for the party location. The logistics of bringing in all of the things you need could get a little tricky, but it’s nothing that a last minute grocery store run can’t fix. Just make sure to sit down with the person whose house it is to ask to find out how they like to maintain their space to make sure that it stays clean and comfortable for the folks living there.
I did this once in high school, mostly because there was no way my parents were going to let me have a party with a band, so I hosted a party with everyone I knew at my friend Kristine’s house. Her parents were up for the adventure so I figured why not. Granted, the party ended with a rainstorm, drying band equipment with hair dryers, and a car crash at the end of the night (totally sober and completely by accident). So that was kind of a hot mess, other than how it ended it was a really great party. Just check the weather first and you’ll be fine.
Option 3: An Outside Venue
You also always have the option of choosing an outside venue for your party. This can either be renting a hall, choosing an activity that comes with a venue, or finding a free location for people to meet up. It all depends on budget, level of effort you want to put in, and how much space you think you’ll need.
Rent a Hall
Renting a venue is definitely the most complicated option, only because you need to bring all of the things in yourself. That said, it definitely saves you some money, especially if you can find a venue where you can bring in all the food and drink yourself. You can rent a fireman’s hall, a warehouse, a barn, art gallery, or a church basement. You should be able to search on the venue websites to find more details, and if you can’t find anything you can always call.
Think about places you already inhabit on a regular basis, places where you are a regular are more likely to let you in to use the venue (possibly even for free). I tried this recently with my hair salon and had great success. (Yes, you can even choose a hair salon as a venue, any space that has the vibe you’re going for.)
Choose an Activity that comes with a Venue
This is the easiest, but most expensive option since you won’t need to bring anything with you, and may need to be considered as you are choosing your theme. There are so many venues that you can rent out that may come with pre-made party packages. Here’s a list of possible options sorted by type of activity:
- Enjoy Some Food and Drink: The obvious choice for this category is to choose a restaurant to all meet up at (remember, some restaurants are more interactive than others – like the melting pot or a hibachi restaurant), you can keep it a little cheaper by choosing a coffee house, but you can also consider a cooking class (iron chef style, how to make pasta, sushi, etc), or do a private tasting (breweries, wineries, chocolate shops, and any specialty store).
- Get Creative: There are so many businesses these days that offer creative classes, you can work with the owner to coordinate your own class that could consist of: hand-lettering, jewellery-making, pottery making, glass blowing, greeting card design, or more.
- Get Active: If you’re sick of sitting around the house, choosing a venue that helps get you up and moving might be fun. You could find a dance studio (salsa, swing, pole, etc), rock climbing gym, laser tag studio, bowling alley, or mini golf course to invite your friends to.
Or you could even visit an arcade (which didn’t fit in any of the above categories). The options for choosing an outside venue are really endless. Think about where you like to hang out and what activities you do that you might like to invite a friend along to, and that will help you narrow down your list.
Find a Free Location
If your budget is tight, there’s always the option of finding a free location for your party as well. While you may need to think a little more creatively, it’s definitely possible to make it happen. You could meet up at a local park, the town library, or even a mall. For my 19th birthday my friends and I went to a mall, divided into 3 teams, and each got $15. We then had one hour to buy something that began with every letter of the alphabet. Not going to lie, it was a pretty fun challenge. And the venue was free, which was great.
Things to Consider
There are a number of questions you will want to consider when choosing an outside party venue. Here are just a few to get the ball rolling:
- Can you bring in your own food? Do you need to use a specific caterer?
- Can you bring your own alcohol? Will you need to hire a bartender?
- How early can you get in to setup?
- Is there a deposit or cleaning fee?
- What is included in the cost per person? What if someone doesn’t show up?
- What if there’s a snowstorm that day?
- Where will people park? Is it easy to get to via public transit?
The key is to think about your guests and anticipate things they might need ahead of time. Actually, that’s pretty much the definition of party hosting right there: making your guests feel comfortable while they’re at your event. Hopefully this thought makes hosting a little more manageable!
What’s been your favorite place that you’ve hosted a party? Do you have a go-to location outside of your house? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.