1. A damn good shindig should always be immersive. You want your guests to feel that your front door is a portal for the night, leaving the ordinary world behind.
Think of your party space as a blank canvas. For the night, paint it (figuratively… unless you are extreme-committing to this, in which case, you win #2) to become something different from your everyday space. Your party HQ can be as large as a huge rambling backyard, or as small as a studio apartment, but addressing each individual space that guests will have access to with something that ties into the theme is a great way to set the tone. Give each area an activity and/or cool decoration, and guests will love wandering from space to space to explore the world of the theme. Music is huge. There is nothing that sets the mood more than a good playlist (just like you learned with your high school lover). 2016 is such a great age for parties – we have Spotify! And Bluetooth! You can create playlists or radio stations and fine tune them as much as you want beforehand. Moody lighting can also achieve wonders. (For our Game of Thrones party, we lit the entire thing with candles, and candles alone. Sexy.)
2. Your party theme can be very general (dinosaurs), or very specific (1920’s T-Rex), as long as you commit to your theme 97.2%*
Go big or go home, sure. But also get small. It’s the details that make a theme really come to life, no matter how broad the idea. If you’re the parent of a 5 year old throwing a birthday party for other 5 year-olds, you can get some balloons in your color palette and call it a day — however, you’re now an enlightened grown up with guests who actually notice details, and for the same price you can go to the dollar store and get some 1 ft. squares of fake turf and create miniature dino scenes. Giant leaves from Ikea. Weird green lights from a thrift store. And once you’ve created your environment? Palm tree drink stirs. Neon colored drinks. Funny hats for your guests to wear. All of it ties back in, and all of it makes the night that much more immersive.
3. Hosts should always provide some food and drink in the spirit of the evening
We have no shame in asking our guests to bring something, but let’s be real – college dorm parties taught us that the best reason to go to a party is for the free alcohol. We’ve definitely stepped up our party game since those hazy days, but there’s no escaping the fact that guests enjoy themselves more when they have the opportunity to indulge. Also, themed food and drinks are just FUN. Thanks to the internet, we have thousands of recipes at our fingertips for just about everything, and really no excuse for going all the way on decorations but slacking on the consumable department. Also: We have lots of friends who don’t drink alcohol or can’t eat certain things (Ellie herself is vegan!), so we also always try to consider our friends with restrictions as well.
4. A dress code is essential to get guests in the zone. They will arrive already committed to the theme!
In our fast-paced society, there just aren’t enough excuses to dress up anymore! Asking your guests to take the time to consider a cool outfit for a theme party can seem like a big to-do, but it always pays off. For one thing, your guests become living decorations, adding even more flavor to the theme, but more importantly, your guests have arrived having done some precursory research into your theme and are therefore already all up in it!
5. Activities and games are a great way of breaking the ice & letting your guests interact with the theme. Better with alcohol. (Remember? We’re adults!)
A big thing that has been lost with adult parties is the sheer fun of the party game. Sure, you can always break out the Bigger Blacker Box, but here at Damn Good Shindig we like to aim a little higher (tasteful sideboob). Games and activities have so many perks: it’s another way of immersing your guests into the theme, they act as an icebreaker for shyer guests, and they can give your evening a structure (look for our Coming Soon post about our Feast of Thrones game!). Bonus: Adults don’t even need prizes!
6. Use, exploit, but don’t rely on a Facebook invitation. Make sure to let people know if you want them there!
The internet has destroyed the art of a good invitation, which is now a realm sadly left to Sweet 16’s and weddings. Facebook events are instant, easy, great for sending updates and location information… and impersonal, at best. A quick text “Hey, I’m having this party on the 30th, you MUST be there!” goes a long way. In person? Even better. A true, old fashioned, tangible invitation? The best. But the great thing? You can combine all of these things! Send a real invite, or tell your friends individually about the party, and then immediately follow up with a Facebook invite.
7. The other 2.8%*? Room to just go with it. If an element of planning is becoming too stressful, or a guest forgets to show up in costume, let it go! No one likes a shindigzilla.
Bonus: Don’t forget the Bathroom.