You’ve decided you want to throw a party. Awesome! But before you make an online invite or send out paper announcements, you should think about these five things to ensure you host the perfect event.


1. Guest List

Think about who you want to invite, not just in terms of who you like hanging out with but in terms of who would add something to the event. Concerns about how guests will get along with each other are less pressing if you’re hosting a large party, but if you’re inviting a dozen people or less, you should probably think about whether everyone on the list will get along and enjoy each other’s company.


2. Venue

The venue you choose may need to be relevant to the reason you’re throwing the party in the first place. For example, if you want to celebrate the fact that you just moved into a new house, you should probably host the party in your new place rather than at a pub on the other side of town. If you’re planning a wedding or another major event, venue selection can be vital for setting the tone (and a budget) for your event. Don’t send out invitations until you have a venue locked down, even if that venue is your house. This is information you must include on your invite.


3. Date and Time

Other vital information? The date and time you’re throwing the party. Don’t just select a random point on the calendar that works for you. Think about your guests. If you want to schedule a party during a busy holiday season, do guests the courtesy of notifying them at least six weeks in advance. Don’t schedule a party for the day before Christmas and send out invites a week before. You can do this, of course, but don’t be surprised if only a few people show up.


4. Snacks and Drinks

No party is complete without some sort of refreshments. You don’t need a full plated dinner and open bar—some light appetizers and a selection of different kinds of drinks, including water, will do just fine. If you plan to serve alcohol, make sure you offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverage options as well.


5. Gifts for You 

If you’re throwing a party for any specific reason, whether it’s a birthday, housewarming or anniversary celebration, chances are that the people you invite are going to want to bring you a gift. This is nice, but sometimes we don’t really want our loved ones to spend their money on us, especially if they’re traveling. You can handle this by putting a note on the invitation asking for charitable donations instead of gifts or simply stating that your guests’ company is the only thing you want. Some guests may bring you gifts anyway, and if they do, they still deserve a gracious thank-you note.


After you’ve got all these details sorted out, don’t forget to get some gifts for your guests as well! Party favors are a great way of remembering an event and giving everyone who attended a sense of unity. From custom-printed tote bags to small packs of snacks, it’s easy to thank your guests for their attendance.