How to Plan the Perfect Party: 10 Tips, Trends and Etiquette Rules To Remember

Are you planning a get-together this summer? Patio parties, bachelorette parties, bridal shower, baby shower, or a party for a guest of honor? We LOVE getting people together even for no reason at all. Today, we’re sharing our 10 things to remember when planning the perfect party, whether outdoors, an intimate holiday dinner party, or a business event for more than 200 people.

1. The invitation sets the mood. Be creative with your invitation! Hitch can help design a custom one if you’d like. The invitation you send sets the stage for your entire event — how fancy, where it will be held, brunch or dinner, casual or formal, how to dress. Take a look at some of these…they are clearl indicators of what to expect without even reading a word!

Setting up a Facebook event is a great option for posting changing details or family updates — and even a group text is a nice way to remind people the day before the event. But to rely on electronic methods alone loses some charm of the amazing event you’re planning.






2. Choosing a theme helps. Like with any of the invitations above, choosing a theme helps you narrow down decor, fun food ideas, memorable favors, and even create a signature drink. For a “Love is Brewing” bridal shower, you could serve gourmet coffees with flavorings at a coffee bar, have ladies decorate coffee mugs as a gift for the new bride, and give away bags of coffee grounds. Or what about having little bags of chocolate covered coffee beans with names as your seating name cards? At the nautical themed bridal shower, the ladies were asked to wear swimming suits and sun gear as they boarded a boat on the lake. Hitch sells adorable little glass “Message in a Bottle” sets, so each of the girls could write the new bride some well wishes and drop the note into their “Message in a Bottle”! The bride-to-be had keepsakes from every girl. The theme helps with cute ideas like these! One of my best friends, Megan, was having her second baby boy, so we planned her a baby shower with the theme “Babies with Balls”.  🙂  We had way too much fun — and maybe only my hilarious friends have a sense of humor to match this baby shower. Everything we did was ball-themed. We had a cream cheese ball, melon balls, gumballs, cheeseballs, giant (and we mean GIANT) 36″ balloons decorating my house for the ball theme, and more. Of course, we had yard games with balls as well. I love my friends. Who else allows a “ball-themed” shower?  🙂

On a more serious note, having a Christmas party has a built-in theme, but what if you departed from the normal red and green and decorated with all white poinsettias and had a black and gold dramatic holiday theme? The invitations, the decor, the napkins — everything with a black, white and gold flare. Or, at this holiday party for the Madison National Guard, we decorated in “Vintage, Woodsy Americana” theme — with coke bottles, wood accents, red white & blue, and Christmas — all rolled into one.

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3. Have a budget in mind. All of these favors, food choices, the open bar, and little details can add up. Have a budget and stick to it. If you’re a business planning an employee appreciation event or holiday party, contact Hitch. We can help you with all the little details and can help you set a clear budget. Fishback Financial hired Hitch to decorate as part of their corporate event planning budget — and to help the HR relax and enjoy the night of the event. (Notice the favors in the “No Peeking” bags? Uh-huh. They had everything.)

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4. Don’t be afraid to hire help or ask if you need it. You’re supposed to have fun and enjoy yourself at this party! It’s meant to be a time of celebration and joy for the guest of honor in your home — or at the venue you’ve chosen. Contact Hitch for pricing if you need help coordinating any piece of your event — at home or a large business party.

5. Appeal to all the senses when people arrive. That means having fresh baked bread in the oven — or scented candles lit, a crackling fire, a playlist of perfect music, and warm lighting in the room (I like to light the room from candles and lamps rather than overhead lighting. It’s more flattering.)  #5 Bonus Tip! The Golden Rule: People will not enjoy themselves as much if they are hot, cold, hungry or bored. Be sure to appeal to all the senses during the party! I even encourage people to set out baskets of bug spray, sunscreen, Benadryl, flip flops and blanks for outdoor parties so everyone is assured to be comfortable!


6. Always stand to greet guests when they arrive — and consider having a “Hospitality Team”.  If you are unavailable at times (you’ll be in and out of the kitchen, talking with other guests, etc.) have a “Hospitality Team” ready to take coats, gifts, etc. as people arrive. Just make sure party goers are greeted warmly and feel right at home even if they arrive early. Your “Hospitality Team” can be close friends, family, or even Hitch’s staff. We’re very welcoming.  🙂


7. Pay attention to the little details that make your guests go “Oooohhh”, “Wooooow”, and “Cuuuuute”.  You, know– the stuff like personalized tags on each wine glass, or vegetarian-friendly foods, having a great signature drink, displaying the food really well, or decorations that make a statement. For this neighborhood bridal shower, the hostess planned a movie theme in a backyard tent. She thought of EVERYTHING. She had a candy table full of movie theatre food, a s’mores station, a popcorn machine, food for a grill out with tons of beverage options. She even made a signature cocktail and had Hitch decorate the tables under the tent! At dusk, she pulled out the movie screen and showed “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Father of the Bride” for all 50 guests to watch outdoors under the stars! They have an in-ground trampoline in their back yard, so all the kids in the group grabbed blankets and pillows and cozied up on the trampoline! All the adults enjoyed the fire pit and lawn chairs around the movie screen. It was perfect. Hitch even designed movie ticket invitations with “Admit One” passes where guests could leave advice for the bride and groom when they arrived at the party.

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8. If it’s a dinner party, set your table correctly. It may be a lost art (along with sewing, canning, and cursive handwriting), but it’s still important to know the etiquette for setting a table. It wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your table manners/dinner etiquette as well (like how to pass the salt & pepper, how to butter your dinner roll, where to put your silverware when you’re finished, and how to lay your napkin if you need to excuse yourself to the restroom during dinner.) If you’re hosting a business mixer, consider finger foods that aren’t messy or greasy (probably not chicken wings or nachos). People shake hands at a mixer — don’t make them carry around a fork or slimy hands.

There are some hosts who recommend seating guests at particular seats during dinner — and then switching the seating plan after every course, so people mix and mingle. One particular host actually serves eight courses during his meal (and the seating chart at each switch) to keep the conversations active!

HowToSetATable9. The entertainment. Have plenty of yard games, card games, “two truths and a lie” get-to-know-you games, to keep your party moving! Remember, guests should never be required to participate if they don’t want to, so have some alternatives ready. You don’t THINK kids are coming…but just in case, have some play dough, crayons and bubbles handy. That’s the key to entertaining — be prepared for anything before your guests have to wonder or ask for it.

10. Send them with a favor. Guests LOVE favors! It’s a great way to remember the evening. Remember, people are going go remember and talk about the EXPERIENCE they had — not the napkin folds or appetizers per se. Favors are also excellent exit cues without being rude. The best parting gift we’ve given so far were long-stemmed red roses. As part of the Bowes Construction 40th Anniversary event held on Valentine’s Day, we brought in a photo booth to serve as one favor! The couples got to take snap shots in the photo bus and keep one photo strip for themselves as a great token of the event. The men also got to take home Bowes embroidered caps and the women each got a rose right out of the centerpieces. We got to use the roses twice — once for centerpiece decor and once as a parting gift. It was a really special Valentine’s day gift for them. Another bride gave little packs of apple cider at her fall wedding. Whatever favor you give, think of a great way to tie it back to the theme!




We hope these 10 tips have helped and inspired you to host the best party ever.

Contact Hitch or purchase the Wedding Day Designer if you need any help planning your next party or event!

605-592-9072 or info (@) hitch

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