How to Plan a Big Birthday Party

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As the person in charge of a large birthday party, you have the opportunity to invite lots of people to the affair. A big party is satisfying for the guest of honor and is also an opportunity for a social gathering of friends, colleagues and acquaintances who may see too little of each other under normal conditions. Planning a big birthday party, especially when a budget is involved, requires a lot of advance planning, organization and assistance. The objective is to wake up the next morning with no concern regarding clean-up, returning rented items or taking down a lot of decorations.

Things You'll Need

  • Guest list
  • Invitations
  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Cash bar company
  • Appoint a committee of close friends to assist you with conducting the affair. Plan well in advance and delegate the different tasks to each of the committee members. Each member is responsible for different jobs such as sending out invitations, planning, securing and putting up decorations, and locating the venue. If they need help, they can enlist the assistance of friends or family members.

  • Formulate a guest list of people who have ties of some sort to the celebrant, whether personal or professional.

  • Set a tentative date -- not necessarily the actual birth date -- time and day of the week that allows most people to attend. Telephone the closest friends and most significant professional invitees to verify that they will be available to attend. Determine the date and build the party around it.

  • Develop a theme and a format for the birthday party. The theme should be one that can be supported by affordable decorations. The format should entertain, hold the guest's interest and subtly guide the tempo and direction of a large number of guests by conducting structured events throughout the birthday party.

  • Send out invitations at least two weeks ahead of time that give the necessary details regarding date, time and place, as well as setting the tone of the birthday party. The tone can be set by including an itinerary of events, as well as gently spelling out a dress code such as jacket and tie or evening wear and specifying only approved smoking areas. The invitation should not be stuffy or sound restrictive, but instead written in an informational voice.

  • The itinerary could include an informal master of ceremonies, humorous speakers and live entertainment with dancing, including volunteers pre-selected in advance to get out on the floor to encourage others to follow suit. Other activities should revolve around the birthday celebrant such as a humorous "roast" or games he or she has to play in front of the whole group.

  • Locate a venue for the party that will accommodate the number of guests as well as one that has adequate lighted parking. The venue should also be able to support the theme of the birthday party with a stage, sound equipment or whatever else is needed.

  • Have committee members greet guests, refill food, provide beverage service as necessary and manage the music.

  • Keep food and beverages simple, but have plenty available. Rent chafing dishes for hot foods and set out other selections on a long buffet table. Keep the portion size and plates small and while the guests can have as many helpings as they wish, smaller portions and plates will encourage less waste. If alcohol is served, hire a cash-bar company to serve the guests. A cash-bar company is one that brings everything necessary to serve alcohol. It provides liquor control board certification and proof of insurance. The cash bar company charges guests by the drink and incurs liability for serving underage drinkers and continuing to serve inebriated guests. This will keep alcohol consumption down and will absolve you of potential and devastating liability should a guest have an auto accident on the way home.

  • As soon as the party breaks up, each committee member swings into action and is responsible for taking down decorations, taking excess food to the food bank, gathering up rented equipment and all of the other things that when taken independently are not a big burden on any one person.

Tips & Warnings

  • Discourage guests from bringing their own alcohol.
  • Maintain set hours for the party. Be friendly but firm when the time comes to usher out the guests, especially those who try to make an all-nighter of it.
  • It bears repeating that if a guest has an accident after drinking alcohol provided free at your function you can be sued for everything you own.
  • Enlist volunteers or call the free taxicabs available in most areas to drive inebriated guests home.
  • Stop the liquor service about 45 minutes before the party ends.

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  • Photo Credit birthday wishes image by Photoeyes from Fotolia.com
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