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How to Plan and Throw a Great House Party (Timeline & Checklist)

Collage photo of house party ideas.

Recently my wife and I hosted a successful house party. It was a ton of fun. There were no mishaps. Fun was had by all.

We host a good number of dinner parties and barbecues throughout the year, but these are smaller affairs.

This year we decided to throw a large house party. After 2 months of planning, we pulled off a successful house party event. At its height, we had over 75 people in our house and the backyard.

We are in our forties, have two young boys and live in a regular suburban house with a regular suburban backyard. Most of our friends who attended live in the local area with young kids as well. In fact, many people walked to our place. I say this so you know that this party was not a frat party but instead a fun rockin’ party geared for adults.

Here are the steps and the timeline we took to pull off what turned out to be an outstanding party.

Party overview

  • Guests: 75+ (adults only – this is an approximate number… likely more)
  • When: 7 pm to 4 am. The party was in full swing by 8:30. The bulk of the party left between 1 and 2 am. We were impressed by how late many people stayed given most people had to hire babysitters.
  • Cost: $10,000. The lion’s share of the cost was for alcohol and catered food. You could significantly reduce this cost making it BYOB and preparing your own food. Moreover, we spent a bit too much on alcohol – my biggest fear was running out. I’d rather have too much than too little.
  • Food: catered taco table with all the fixings. We also had one indoor snack table and one outdoor snack table with the usual fair – chips, nuts, fruit, veggie trays, olives, etc.
  • Beverages: Open bar – beer (2 kegs), wine and liquor. We offered a house cocktail and house shooter.
  • Planning duration: 2 months.
  • Music: 5.5-hour party playlist on Spotify. Several guests brought guitars and played in the backyard around the firepit.

House Party Planning Timeline

Early planning – 2 months out

Established a budget

Before you start ordering, renting and reserving, you need to come up with a realistic budget. This will dictate much of what you offer, where you have your party, what you buy, etc.

Chose a date

At some point, you have to pick a date and stick with it. We avoided long weekends and chose Saturday for obvious reasons. We did ask our closest friends if they were available. While you can’t accommodate every person you intend to invite, it’s nice to ensure your closest friends are available so they can attend.

Event Liability Insurance

If you can, buy event liability insurance. Inquire as soon as you decide to have the party so that if you must take certain precautions you have time to do so. We left insurance too late and couldn’t get it.

You never know what could go wrong especially if serving alcohol. I attempted to buy this from several insurers but in our jurisdiction, the person serving drinks must have a “Serving it Right” certificate (basic alcohol service certificate), which I didn’t have and didn’t have time to obtain. I suppose we could have hired a bartender, but by the time the insurance aspect occurred to me it was too late.

If ever we do this again, I will get the “Serving it Right” certificate so that we qualify for event liability insurance.

Put together the invite list

Planning the invite list is the main job at this point. We sat down several times adding names to our list. My wife then spent hours getting all the contact info (email addresses) together. This was a huge job.

Sketched out beverage and food requirements

At this stage, we started sketching out what we wanted to provide food and drink wise. We decided right away to offer an open bar. At first, we were going to restrict food offerings to light eats (snacks) but expanded that in short order to pretty much a full catered meal.

Planned the party area

Since we chose the end of May for the party, as long as we had decent weather, we wanted the bulk of the party outside. This meant we needed to plan the yard for a party. However, we couldn’t count on good weather so we also planned the house for an indoor party.

Division of labor / Leadership

If you’re planning a party with a partner (spouse or otherwise), it’s a good idea to set out who will do what. This helps ensure what needs to be done gets done. Otherwise, you may assume the other person is handling it when they assume you are.

My wife did by far the lion’s share of the planning and work for the party. My only real responsibility was the bar and alcohol. Other than that, she took control of everything and delegated tasks to me over the weeks leading up to the party.

It’s a good idea that one person takes control and be the leader. My wife took that one for which I was grateful. It’s a lot more work when you’re in charge and responsible for the many thousands of little tasks that need to be done. While we discussed much of the decisions together over the weeks leading up to the party, she established the vision that we followed.

6 weeks out

We sent the Evite out 6 weeks before the party.

We wanted to give people as much notice as possible so they could set the date aside.

We sent more invites over the weeks following the initial bust as we obtained more contact emails, but the main batch went out 6 weeks in advance.

1 month out

Arranged catering

Initially, we were going to provide snacks, but we both agreed to offer something more substantial would be a nice touch. We also knew it would be Herculean to make the food ourselves (and it’s still expensive to make it yourself), so we researched and arranged catering. We didn’t want a sit-down dinner. Instead, we wanted food that could be eaten while standing and mingling. We contacted a number of catering services but settled on one that offered a taco service. It turned out to be a perfect choice. The food was plentiful, easy to eat and tasted very good.

TIP:  I think we got lucky landing catering this close to the party. I recommend starting a catering search as soon as possible especially if having a party during the Summer months.

Major purchases

We took stock of what we had and what we needed infrastructure-wise. It turned out we needed a beverage fridge, patio heater, patio mat, garbage receptacles and tent canopies. We bought all this well in advance so it would be ready to assemble/put up well before the big date. We had other important items on hand such as a propane firepit, patio chairs and large beverage dispenser.

The point here is at the 1 month before the party mark, order big ticket items so that you’ll have them in time. Moreover, some stuff requires assembly which you don’t want to do in the morning of your party.

Powerwashed patio

I powerwash the patio each year so this wasn’t out of the ordinary, but it needed to be done before the party.

Decluttered the house

With young kids we accumulated stuff that we didn’t need anymore. The party was a good impetus to declutter. We sold some stuff, dumped some stuff and put some things into storage (i.e. our crawl space) in an effort to dramatically declutter our home’s main living spaces.

Landscaping/Spring clean up

We hired some landscapers to come and prune a bunch of bushes and trees on our property. They spent an entire day sprucing up our yard which improved it considerably.

2 weeks out

Assembled the patio heaters

The patio heaters we bought (which we would have bought whether we had the party or not) required assembly. It was a huge job. Fortunately, we had a generous friend do it for us which was a huge help.

Bought propane

You can never have too many propane tanks on hand. We needed both the large tanks and small bottles for our various outdoor appliances. We had a fire pit, large patio heater and smaller patio heater, all of which required propane. FYI, buy extra because these appliances chug propane. We had to swap in new tanks for both patio heaters at 11 pm. Had we not had more propane, that would have compromised the party big time.

Ordered flowers

We thought it would be a nice touch to have some small bouquets around the house. It’s obviously optional, but a nice touch.

Planted flowers / garden clean-up

This was a big job. My mother-in-law took this on and did a spectacular job. She planted flowers all over the place – in the front and the rear. It definitely made the place look way better.

Informed/invited neighbors

House parties are loud and can disrupt the neighborhood. I went door-to-door to all the neighbors across, beside and behind us letting them know about the party and of course inviting them to come (several of whom did come which was great). While our party did not get out of hand, it was loud but nobody complained despite it continuing well after midnight.

Ordered additional garbage receptacles

We normally have one trash receptacle in the kitchen. This would not be adequate so we bought 3 more garbage receptacles to place around the house and one on the patio.

Ordered kegs of beer

We have a local brewery which is where I ordered 2 kegs. They were fantastic and it was very reasonably priced. I arranged to pick it up at 5:30 pm on the day of the party. The kept it refrigerated so it would be cold when I picked it up. When I did pick it up, they were nice enough to show me how to tap it properly and explained it would stay cold for 6 hours.

Ordered bar implements and tools (if open bar)

If you’re offering an open bar and aren’t hiring a bartender, it’s well worth the money to buy the standard bar implements. Here’s a short list of what I found very helpful:

  • Ice bucket:  I had an ice bucket on the bar top which was super helpful.
  • Stainless steel ice scoop (do not scoop ice with any breakable material)
  • Liquor bottle pour spouts:  These are super helpful for making drinks fast and accurately with minimal mess.
  • Jiggers:  .5, 1 and 2 oz. In fact, order several of each so you can pour light liquor in the same and dark in the other. I didn’t have a sink in my bar area so I couldn’t rinse tools and implements regularly.
  • Ice tub:  I placed a large tub of ice below the bar top where I could store mixers.
  • Stir spoon:  I had a stainless steel stir for mixing the shooter concoctions.
  • Rags:  It’s super helpful to have a stack of white cloths or rags for keeping your bar area clean.

Make it easy on yourself and do what I did. I bought a full bartender kit that came with all of the above plus more. Here’s what I bought.

Cocktail Shaker Bartender Mixology Kit 13-Piece Stainless Steel Margarita Boston Shaker Set Weighted Cocktail Tin Shaker with Cocktail Strainer Set Home Bar Drink Shaker Set

I bought 2 additional liquor bottle pour spouts so I could have them on all bottles.

1 week out

The week before a party starts getting busy. It’s crunch time.

Backyard set up

Setting up the backyard was a lot of work. Here’s what we did:

  • Powerwashed the patio
  • Planted many flowers
  • Pruned several surrounding bushes
  • Set up two large (10′ x 10′) tent canopies. My father-in-law was kind enough to further elevate the canopies by attaching extensions to the legs.
  • Strung lights from the canopies
  • Assembled and set up patio heaters
  • Set up propane firepit
  • Set up many chairs under both tent canopies
  • Set up additional lights throughout the yard
  • Was it worth all the work and expense?

You bet it was. The weather cooperated and much of the party was in the yard all night.

Bought alcohol

When providing alcohol, you can’t run out. That was my biggest fear. Therefore, the initial budget ballooned. I didn’t mind since having beer, wine and liquor on hand comes in handy for future events.

Therefore, I bought far more than what was needed. I bought as if it were a frat party. The reality is people in their forties with kids and responsibilities do not chug down 12+ drinks. While many people imbibed and enjoyed themselves, nobody got out of hand.

The other issue is I didn’t know if people would drink mostly beer, wine or liquor. I didn’t want to run out of any one type of alcoholic beverage so we overbought all three.

Bought snacks

We made a few trips to the store loading up on chips, nuts, olives, cheese, crackers, veggie trays, fruit trays, etc. There’s no magic formula for snacks – whatever you think people will enjoy. The nice thing about snacks is they’re pretty low cost compared to much of the other requirements for a house party.

Final house cleaning (floors and bathrooms)

We cleaned all the floors and bathrooms.

Final decluttering

The day before we removed the TV, some furniture and cleaned up all the toys. We also rearranged the remaining furniture to maximize open space.

Get white wine and drinks in the fridge

We offered white and sparkling wine which meant we needed to get them in the fridge the day before. We also had veggie and fruit trays that needed to be refrigerated.

We definitely could have used another full-sized fridge, but there are limits. In a perfect world, the mixers would have been chilled in a fridge as well but we didn’t have enough refrigerator space. We had to settle on ice to cool the drinks.


We put up a “keep your shoes on” sign in the entryway. Since it was an outdoor/indoor party, we wanted people to keep their shoes on. Besides 75 pairs of shoes in the entryway would be ridiculous. Our home’s main floor is all hardwood and linoleum in the kitchen so dirt is no problem to clean up.

We have friends who also host big parties. They have carpet so they tape down plastic over it which is a good idea (but a lot of work).

Day of party: final preparation

The day-of of any event is a lot of work. It was no exception for a party of this size. A lot comes together during the last 3 hours. Here’s how the day-of unfolded.

  • Cleaned and cleared kitchen for catering:  It helps to have a clean kitchen so this was cleaned in the morning so it was ready for the catering delivery.
  • Set up snack tables: This was done in the afternoon. We set out all snacks fairly early so it was done. We kept dips in the fridge until the last minute.
  • Final cleaning of bathrooms:  This was done in the late morning – candles, lighting, fresh towels, etc.
  • Distributed flower bouquets:  Our flowers arrived at 2 pm. We distributed them in several vases around the house.
  • Picked up ice and kegs:  This was the last minute tasks since I wanted the ice to be frozen and beer cold at the start of the party.
  • Bar set up:  I spent the early afternoon setting up the bar tables and bottles.
  • Music set-up:  We ensure our music system was set up properly and had speakers arranged.
  • Turned on all the lights:  2 hours before go-time, we turned on all the party lights inside and out.

Party Planning Checklist

The party

People started trickling in around 7:30 pm. By 8:30 the party was happening. It was fully rockin’ by 9 pm.

My wife is an exceptional hostess. She ensures she speaks to everyone. She floated around the front door during the first couple of hours and warmly welcomed everyone. She gave them a quick rundown of our offerings and explained the party was in the backyard. After most people had arrived, she continued her rounds throughout the party.

My role was bartender and host. I could have hired a bartender, but the role suits me. I bartended in college and loved it. It’s a terrific way to chat with everyone throughout the night.

Parties tend to congregate in one area. In our case, it was the backyard and patio, which is what we wanted. We made the patio and yard as inviting as possible with patio heaters, a fire pit, lots of chairs and we put the kegs out there (people tend to go where the booze is).

That said, the food was in the kitchen and dining room so those areas were also busy. And of course, the bar was set up in the family room just off the patio which was another popular area.

Keep an eye on…

  • Garbage receptacles:  These fill up fast especially with paper plates and plastic cups. It’s important to ensure there’s room in garbage receptacles.
  • Ice:  you need to constantly replenish ice in tubs and ice bucket.
  • Bathroom: we had it well stocked with toilet paper, but it doesn’t hurt to ensure it doesn’t run out.
  • Alcohol consumption: We wanted people to have a good time but also wanted a safe party. As bartender I kept an eye out on consumption and casually asked about how people were getting home. Fortunately we had no problems whatsoever. Most people walked home which was great and those who drove drank very little.

The Invitation: the most important part of party planning

The most important party planning task is the invite list. Without guests, you do not have a party.

My wife and I spent quite a bit of time putting together the invite list and getting email addresses for the Evite. She also spent time following up with people, answering questions, etc.

We, of course, invited our close friends, but we also invited many people who we didn’t know well in the community. We viewed the party as a great way to meet more people in our neck of the woods and for guests to meet one another. Our party definitely achieved this. I got to become better acquainted with many people that I will be seeing again at other local events.

Invite delivery

These days blasting off an invite is very easy. We used Evite which delivers invites to email addresses and mobile phone numbers. It’s a free service. It’s very easy to use and worked well for us. We did have some evites not get delivered. We solved that by following up with separate email messages.

The invite content

Your invite content is your guests’ first exposure to the party. You want to make it sound like an exciting event so people will want to come.

Give your party a name:  We gave our party a catchy name so that it became an event.

Details:  Date, time and location.

Additional Info

This is important. You want to let your guests know what to expect. Here are additional details we included:

  • No kids: it’s important to clarify whether it’s with or without kids so guests can plan accordingly.
  • Open bar:  We opted for providing all drinks, but if you opt for BYOB, you definitely want to specify this.
  • Light eats:  We made it clear to not count on dinner but some food (snacks) would be available. In the end we provided a lot more food than was intended.
  • Big party:  We made it clear in the invite it was going to be a big party so people knew what to expect.

The one thing we missed was to let people know that they did not need to bring anything.

Attire: we chose not to specify attire since it was a casual event. However, if attire is important, do specify it in your invitation.

Open vs. Closed invitation

When you use Evite, you can choose a setting so that everyone can see who is invited or keep the invite list closed. We opted to keep it closed.

Following up

We also sent out a reminder “follow-up” message via Evite. It served as a reminder and we said the response was very good and it was going to be an excellent event. Several people responded positively to this follow-up.


Makeshift bar in family room for house party

A significant portion of our cost was providing alcohol. We thought it would be fun to host a rockin’ party where we would provide all the alcohol. Most of the people attending lived close enough to walk (and they did).

How much alcohol do you need for a house party?

It’s impossible to provide a formula. It really depends on how much your crowd drinks and the size of the crowd. Our crowd enjoyed drinking but nobody got out of hand. I’d say consumption was as good as could be expected – they drank enough to have a good time but nobody passed out in the coats or started a fight. Here’s roughly what we went through with 75 guests:

  • Beer: We went through approximately 40 liters of beer which is about 80 pints. I’m guessing here. Both kegs have beer remaining and I can’t tell exactly. It’s safe to say two 50 liter kegs was more than enough.
  • Red wine: 9 bottles.
  • White wine:  Almost two boxes which was about 8 bottles.
  • Sparkling wine: 3 bottles.
  • Vodka: 100 oz. Vodka was by far the most popular as I expected it to be. It was the main ingredient in our house drink of which we went through quite a bit.
  • Gin: 40 oz.
  • Rum:  26 oz.
  • Scotch:  20 oz.
  • Peach Schnapps: 25 oz. (used in the house cocktail)
  • Triple Sec:  25 oz. (used in the house shooter)

How much do you have to spend on alcohol for a house party?

I can only tell you what we spent (or needed to spend).

There are two numbers here. There’s what we actually spent on booze and what we needed to spend on booze. I’ll give you the “what we needed to spend on booze” based on consumption.

Based on what was consumed in the above list, the cost of alcohol was about $1,000 CAD.

Here’s the breakdown of the alcohol we provided.


We opted for ordering 2 kegs.

A keg is great because it’s economical, doesn’t take up fridge space (unlike cases of beer), minimizes waste and it’s easily self-serve. We placed the two kegs on the patio with stack of cups on an adjacent table.

I ordered the keg about 1 week before the party from a well-known local brewery. I opted for both pale ale and lager. Those are the two most popular beers, yet people definitely have their preferences between the two.



We bought a few cases of red wine. I opted for decent quality. I’m not talking about $100 per bottle, but not the cheapest either. We wanted people to enjoy the wine rather than tolerate it.


We opted for boxed white because cooling them doesn’t take up much fridge space. Yes, boxed wine doesn’t have the best reputation, but we bought the best we could. Due to fridge space limitations, boxed white really was the only opiton. You definitely have to consider fridge space when hosting a party. We only have one fridge and bought on beverage fridge. Therefore, we had to plan accordingly.

To cool the white wine we took the wine bags out of the boxes and put them in the fridge.

We served the white wine in a stylish wine dispenser as follows:

Wine Nook LN-RED Little Nook Box Wine Dispenser, 3 Liters,

Sparkling wine

We thought it would be fun to have a tray of Prosecco sparkling wine. We had plastic champagne glasses which gave the place a bit of a festive flair. These drinks proved popular and went quickly.


We did not intend to provide every liquor imaginable. We had to pick and choose. We opted for vodka, gin, rum and scotch. We also bought Triple Sec and Peach Schnapps for the house drinks. This was more than adequate. In hindsight, a bottle or two of whiskey would have been good, but the few people who asked for whiskey were content with scotch (not the same, but worked nevertheless).

Bottle size

While you can buy 40 oz. bottles, I recommend sticking to the 26 oz. bottles because only they accommodate liquor pour spouts. Having liquor pour spouts made a huge difference – I could make drinks faster, with less mess and they were accurately poured.

House drinks

We wanted to have some fun so we chose a house drink and house shooter.

Both house drinks were popular. We went through two full dispensers of the cocktail and several trays of shots.

Cocktail dispenser (aka “Punch Bowl)

Just before the party start time, I mixed up a large batch of of the house cocktail and put it in a large beverage dispenser with plenty of ice. Our beverage dispenser is similar to the following:

Buddeez Unbreakable 3-1/2-Gallon Beverage Dispenser with Removable Ice-Cone

Shooter trays

I used a small water pitcher to mix up the shooters. I had to multiply the ingredients for a single shot many times in proportion. Using the water pitcher was smart because it made pouring them into shot glasses easy and fast.

Starting around 9 pm I started serving the shots. I made up a full tray and set them on the side of the bar. People could grab them as they pleased. For about 2 hours I kept the tray full of shots until nobody was drinking them.


Our house cocktail was a good choice because it required orange juice and cranberry juice which are popular mixers in their own right. Here’s the list of mixers we had on hand:

  • Orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Soda water
  • Tonic
  • Red Bull
  • Coca Cola

I definitely overbought mixers. Interestingly, soda water was a lot more popular than I expected (fortunately I didn’t run out).


We opted for plastic cups. We bought a variety including:

  • Plastic beer cups which were also used for wine (not the greatest wine cups, but people were super cool about it).
  • Sparkling wine plastic cups
  • 2 oz. plastic shot glasses
  • 1 oz. plastic shot glasses (we didn’t use any of these so they weren’t necessary).

Non-alcoholic beverages

The only additional beverage we bought were boxes of Perrier. We also had a pitcher of ice water out. Otherwise, people could drink the various mixers without alcohol.

The Food

Close up photo of catered food in chafing dishes

At first, we weren’t too concerned about food (figuring light eats and snacks would do it), but as time went on, we decided that offering a nice spread would make for a much better party.

We researched a few local catering outfits and found one that offered a taco table. The catering service would deliver it, set it up, provide all the food we needed and the utensils. However, they did not stay and serve.

The total catering cost was $2,000 CAD. We had more than enough food for all the guests (there were some leftovers). In hindsight, it was a very good decision to pony up for a food spread.

In addition to the catered taco table, we had plenty of snack foods throughout the party including:

  • Chips (several options),
  • Crackers,
  • Veggie and fruit trays,
  • Caramel popcorn,
  • Pepperoni sticks,
  • Mixed nuts (my personal favorite), and
  • Olives.

We also provided two baskets of rolls.

At the end of the day, we pretty much served a full dinner, but it was cool because it could be eaten while standing and mingling.

Party Décor

We wanted to create a fantastic party environment which we did via lighting, decor and art. We also cleared out a lot of clutter so that our house was wide open to accommodate a lot of people.

While we decided décor was important, we wanted to keep it simple.

The following were the main décor features:


We decked the place out with lights – both inside and outside. Here’s what we used:

  • Outdoor string lights:  We suspended outdoor string lights in the tent canopies.
  • Outdoor white Christmas lights:  I hung lights all around the front door and on our front hedge. In the back, I also placed them on a large hedge next to the patio.
  • Indoor white Christmas lights:  The main indoor lighting were indoor white Christmas lights strung up along the ceiling in every room. The effect was outstanding.
  • Party light:  We bought a fun party light for the bar area.
  • Flameless candles: We lined up 10 flameless candles along the large front bay window that could be viewed from the outside.

If you do only one thing to create a great party environment, focus on lights. It makes a huge difference.


We have friend who contracts with galleries and private art collectors to hang artwork. He is very skilled at hanging all kinds of art and also had access to all kinds of prints and canvasses. He brought over some pieces. We also printed out some large prints. He spent quite a bit of time hanging all of it throughout our house.

Wall vines

Cleared out living room for house party with wall vines and lights

This was a nice touch to the overall decor. My wife came up with this. She bought plenty of plastic vines that she hung on the walls and one tent canopy wall outside. This created a fun party environment.


Alcohol: You never know how much people will drink and what their preferences are. In an abundance of caution, we over-bought beer, wine and liquor. We preferred to have leftover alcohol than running out. Running out would be the death of the party given we advertised it as an open bar.

Evite delivery failures:  Evite is easy-to-use and most people are familiar with it in our neck of the woods, but there were some delivery problems as in invites not being delivered. This required personal email follow-ups which is a very time-consuming process.

Babysitting:  We definitely wanted an adults-only party but a big challenge with this is that all guests with young kids (of which there were many) had to line up babysitters.

Estimating the number of people who will attend:  While Evite is a great tool for getting RSVPs, you never know how many people will actually show up. More people showed up than RSVP’d which was a good result for us. Some people brought friends which we appreciated. Also, some “maybes” showed up.

Final house organization with young kids: We wanted the house cleared out which is hard to do with young kids because they want their toys, the TV, etc. We delayed final clearance until the last two days to minimize any inconvenience to our kids. That said, our oldest helped cleaning up the toys which was a big help.

Party Insurance: I attempted getting our event insured but was unable to do so for failing to have a person in attendance with a Serving it Right certification. The Serving It Right certification is a drink service certificate bartenders and most servers need in our jurisdiction. I probably should have obtained it but didn’t realize it until it was too late. Alternatively, we could have hired a bartender with the certificate.

Fortunately, we had no problems. I suspect insurance requirements vary by jurisdiction, so learn from my mistake and that is to learn early on what you need to obtain party/event insurance.

Key party resources

Evite: As set out in the invitation portion of this ultimate house party guide, Evite proved to be a good way to get the invitations out digitally to a large number of people. It’s a free service.

Patio heater: We went with the patio heater shown below which was an excellent decision. Heat emanates from the side and it really does heat up a large space. It’s like a tall fireplace and proved to be an excellent choice for the party on the patio.

Viemoi Glass Tube Replacement 28.3" Tall ø5.9 Patio Heaters Quartz Glass Tube Replacement for Residential Heater

Beverage fridge: Unless you have two fridges, it’s well worth investing in a beverage fridge to help keep white wine and mixers cold before and during the party.

Propane firepit: We’ve had this propane firepit for years and love it. We placed it under a tall tent canopy in the yard with camp chairs around it. It too was a popular area.

Patio Mat: We have a flagstone patio which looks awesome but it’s not great for high heels. In order to make it safer, we bought a huge mat so that heels wouldn’t get caught in the grout cracks.

Tent Canopies: We bought two 10′ x 10′ tent canopies for two reasons. First, in the event of rain, people could still go outside. Second, it made for a great place to hang lights. We raised them as high as they could go but put on an addition to the legs so they were higher up yet. The problem with most tent canopies is they aren’t that high up and if you suspend lights from them, people can bump their heads. My father-in-law came up with a very clever way to add legs to both to increase the height.


Party patio with tent canopy, string lights and patio heater

  • Outdoor suspended lights
  • Indoor white Christmas lights
  • Party light
  • Flameless candles

Bose Bluetooth speaker: Because we used Spotify which is on our mobile phones, we needed a Bluetooth speaker to run the music through. This Bose Bluetooth speaker pumped the sound out throughout the party quite nicely.

Spotify: We’re huge Spotify fans which is a great music streaming service for everyday music listening as well as parties. My wife and I had a blast putting together a 5.5 hour party play list a couple weeks before the party.

House cocktail jug (self-serve): Because we offered a house cocktail, it was super convenient for everyone to have it available in a large self-serve beverage dispenser. It was like a punch bowl but with a pour spout.

White wine pour box: Instead of putting a box of wine on the wine service table, we bought white wine dispenser which looked much better.

Folding tables with adjustable height: We own 2 adjustable height tables which served as an excellent bar table and self-serve wine table. We adjusted them to full height so I could stand while pouring drinks. We placed white tablecloths on them so that they looked nice.

Tubs for ice: While I bought too much ice, it was close. I bought 22 bags of ice and expected it to be way too much. We only had a few left. The point is you will go through a lot of ice especially if serving cocktails. People love their ice.

Plastic garbage tubs for the kegs: When I ordered the beer kegs I didn’t realize the beer would stay cool for hours. Therefore, we bought 2 large garbage tubs to put the kegs in with ice. This worked, but I don’t think it was necessary. It wasn’t terribly hot and I picked the kegs up 1 hour before the party. When I picked them up they were the breweries large fridge.

What we would do differently

Make it clear in the invite to not bring anything: Many people brought us gifts (wine, chocolates, gift cards, etc.). This is always a very nice gesture, but we truly wanted to provide everything and did not expect gifts.

Obtain a Serving It Right certificate:  In our jurisdiction, bartenders and servers must have a “Serving It Right” certificate for serving alcohol. It turns out this is required by insurance companies in order to obtain event insurance where alcohol is served. If I were to do it over, I would have obtained the certificate well in advance of the party so we would have been approved for insurance. This was a major oversight on my part.