Five Steps to Throwing An Unforgettable Party

posted: 09/14/17
by: Katie Morton
Friends having dinner party at home. Celebrating birthday party for their friend. Thay are happy and well dressed. Home is decorated with festive string lights and candles. Evening or night.

Throwing a party is all about creating an experience that's special and memorable. And the key to creating that unforgettable and impressive experience is to focus on the details--beyond what you'll be eating and drinking!

New York City-based designer, party planning guru and creator of the blog Hey Mister Stewart, Reilly Carpenter shares with us his five step checklist to throwing an unforgettable party.

Step One: Sight

It only takes a few visual cues to transform a space. First, pay attention to the lighting. You want the space to be well lit, but not too bright--especially if your get-together is in the evening. "Ideally, dim the lights using a dimmer. But, if you don't have that option, you can also create that dim effect by turning off bright overhead lighting and opting for a mix of lighting from lamps and candles around the space. Candle lighting is great for setting the mood because it's soft, warm and makes everyone look their best," explains Reilly.

A cheap, simple and elegant option is a tea light candle in a simple glass votive, which you can buy in bulk to have handy for any event. Or, you can create a more dramatic look with these hanging glass bulbs.

Step Two: Smell

Smell is probably the most forgotten sense when having people over. Because we live in our homes, we don't notice the smell as consciously as someone visiting does. And smell is one of the first things a person will notice about your home (possibly even before you open the door to greet them!).

So, before a party, make those candles do double duty! Reilly recommends avoiding scents that are too potent, sweet or floral, and opting for something earthier and subtle. "I love tobacco candles for this reason, and have lately been obsessed with this teakwood and tobacco candle from P. F. Candle Co."

Home fragrances are another great option. They're pretty much just like perfume for your house and you can spray it about 30 minutes before guests arrive for a noticeable, but not overwhelming, scent.

Step Three: Sound

Nothing sets the mood and tone for a party like music. Think about who your guests are and what type of mood you want to create.

Outsource the music curation to a service like Google Play Music or Spotify. Just make sure you splurge for a premium account with ad-free listening, because there's nothing worse than a good time being interrupted by an ad for Discount Tire.

Step Four: Touch

It can be tempting to opt for disposable napkins, plates and silverware for a party because nothing makes clean-up easier. However, think twice about whether or not to opt for disposable, because how those feel in your hand says a lot about what type of party it is.

Reilly's opinion: "I always try to go for the real deal over disposable, especially for a dinner party or a gathering with a smaller group of people. Linen napkins add that extra special touch, and you can get great ones, like these timeless bistro napkins, fairly inexpensively. Plus, you can throw them in the wash and reuse them over and over again--feeling good about saving a few trees."

Step Five: Taste

Of course, you're probably not going to forget to have something to eat. But, of particular importance is what you'll be serving to drink. A signature cocktail lets people know you've gone above and beyond. Plus, it's something that can be made ahead of time and served in bulk--taking the pressure off making individual drinks while impressing everyone. Check out The Kitchn's recipes for batch cocktails.

Pulling together a great party is no simple task. And it's easy to only focus on the food and what you'll be serving. But, there are lots of other little details that can make or break the experience. Next party, make it a memorable one. Follow these five steps to throw a party your guests will be talking about for years to come.