Planning and hosting a party for your friends can take a lot of effort! From finding a venue to providing the perfect food, organizing the entertainment and decorating your location, there are dozens of steps you must take to plan the perfect party. But never fear, these simple steps will help you through the process of planning a party from start to finish. Write down things that are important to remember so you won’t forget them.

Decide What Kind of Party You Want

Is this a birthday party for a friend (or yourself)? Is it a celebration of something in a friend’s (or your own) life, such as a new job or a promotion? Or are you just planning a gathering of friends for fun, food, and drink? The answers to these questions will help you decide what theme, if any, you’d like to present at the party. Once you decide on a theme, determine what you’ll need from your guests (is it a costume party? Are you planning an outdoor BBQ? Will there be alcohol involved?).

Find an Appropriate Venue

The next step is finding the right location to host your party. Is it going to be in your own home, or must you find a location such as a restaurant or gathering venue? If it must be held at another location, what will the cost be? Can you save money by booking the venue early? Does the venue come with any perks, like food, a bar, and waitstaff? If not, can you afford these extra services? Will you have to provide security or valet parking? Ask these questions when booking your venue so you won’t face any surprise charges. Does it include entertainment?

Create Your Invitations!

Whether you decide to go the traditional route of paper or the more modern electronic invitations, make sure your invitations provide all the information your guests will need. This includes your name (who), the theme of your party (what), the location of your party (where), the date and time of your party (when) and the reason for the party if you wish (why). This covers all your basics. You can also add information if you’d like guests to bring along something.

You can also use social media like Facebook or email to send out invitations. Word processing software often provides informal templates for things like invitations that you can customize to your needs and theme.

Settle on the Food

If you’re buying snacks and other refreshments, make sure you have enough on hand for everyone you invited. If the food is going to be prepared at the venue, give them your total invitation count, not the number of people who RSVP’ed yes. This will ensure you have enough food for everyone, including those who show up without responding to your invitation (because this can and does happen).

Figure out the Entertainment

If you’re hiring a DJ, touch base with them to make sure they’re aware of the date, time, and location of your party. Pay the deposit, if required, and verify the DJ’s total cost beforehand. If possible, pay up front, so that you won’t have to interrupt your enjoyment of the party to pay the DJ.

In case you handle the entertainment yourself, there is more to learn here about an excellent Bluetooth speaker that’s perfect for indoor parties. This will let you easily project music from your phone or tablet, even streaming if that’s your choice.

You can also organize other entertainment, like games. If your guests are all of drinking age, you can create drinking games (though, make certain all your guests will get home safely if they’ve been consuming alcohol). Games will depend on your group of friends. You can offer prizes if you want, just remember this will add to the overall cost of your party.

Decorate, Decorate, Decorate!

When your party has a specific theme, you can get creative with your party favors and decorations. If your venue allows, decorate the location to match your theme. Party supplies are often inexpensive at dollar stores, so you can get a range of products to add to your décor.

Most Important, Have Fun

When planning a party for your friends, the most important thing is to have fun. And that means you should have fun, too. If the party is large and you have difficulty with the planning, ask a friend to help. This will take some of the burden off your shoulders and allow you to enjoy the party, too.

Planning a party for your friends requires a lot of work. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult if you systematically work your way down a checklist of things to remember. After you select a location, you can decide on decorations, food, and entertainment for your guests. And one thing’s for certain: you’re going to have a lot of fun!