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7 Things You Need for A Party

Last updated: March 27, 2024

Hey! Your party is coming up, or you’re planning for one soon. What are the top things that you need to make your party a success?

There are a few key items you need. That includes cups, music, simple welcome signs, and more. But what you need also depends on three things: the occasion, the number of guests, and your own personal preferences.

I’ll give you an outline of the seven most important things you need for a party.

Why you should listen to me: I’ve hosted hundreds of parties including cocktail parties, happy hours, dinner parties, and more. New York Magazine once called me a “host of culturally significant parties.” I’ve been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for my last company, Museum Hack. I even wrote a whole book called The 2-Hour Cocktail Party.

Essential Party Supplies

These are a few items that every party needs:

  1. Cups for drinks
  2. Drinks: both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options
  3. Small plates for snacks (optional)
  4. Simple snack foods, like nuts and chips
  5. Name tags: read about why these are important
  6. Handwritten welcome and information signs (see below)
  7. Black marker for name tags and cups

Party Invitations

Whether it’s formal or informal, invitations will help guests know what to expect and when to show up. The invitation should include the date, time, and location of your party.

I know this one is obvious, and it isn’t necessarily considered in most “party supplies” lists. But it is so important because you set the expectations of what will happen at your party.

Please note: You should also collect RSVPs as part of your party invitations. One key thing that I’ve learned is that collecting RSVPs will boost the attendance rate of your party, sometimes by over 35%. Use any of the free party RSVP platforms that I recommend here.

Venue or Location

Choose a place to host your party that is suitable for the type of event you want to throw. Make sure it can accommodate the number of guests you plan to invite.

But you don’t need enough seats for everyone! In fact, I believe that sitting down is kryptonite to a successful event. Instead, encourage your guests to stand and mix and mingle so that it is easier to create new conversations.

You can check the different locations I have listed here and see if it’ll match the party you want to host.

Overall, I believe that the best party location for your party is your own home. Why? Because people will feel welcome to be invited into it. It makes your party more generous. And it snaps people out of the “networking mindset” when you host at a restaurant or bar.

Food and Drinks

This will depend on the type of party you’re throwing. But in all of my experience, after hosting hundreds of parties, I’ve found that people eat and drink much less than you might imagine!

Most people buy too much food and too many drinks for their first party.

You will need to buy some basic snacks and a small assortment of drinks for your guests. If you’re hosting a cocktail party for your friends and neighbors, here’s a list of snacks and drinks you can easily manage:

  • Fruits and vegetables: grapes, baby carrots, hummus.
  • Chips: potato chips, salted tortilla chips. Add guacamole for bonus points!
  • Nuts: cashews, mixed nuts, or salted peanuts.
  • Cheese plate: you can serve this pre-sliced or cubed. You might want to add salami, too.
  • Alcoholic drinks: red and white wine, or rose, plus a bottle of hard alcohol like vodka or tequila. Hard seltzer is also very popular!
  • Non-alcoholic drinks: sodas, diet sodas, plenty of seltzers, and juice.

Here is a detailed list of party supplies that I assembled.

More Party Supplies

If you’re bringing a different circle of friends together, then name tags are a must. It’s embarrassing to talk to someone if you can’t remember their name. Name tags also make introverted people and shy people a bit more comfortable.

Here are my favorite name tags that I always use at my parties:

Next up, markers! You’ll use these to write the names of your guests. I suggest buying a thick, black marker. It will make the names easier to read from a distance.

There are other party supplies you might need, like I mentioned previously, including: plates and cups, napkins, and snacks and drinks. But notice that I have NOT included decorations. I don’t often recommend them due to the added stress in setting them up.

Party Signs

Adding handwritten party signs helps in making your house party feel more welcoming. It also shows how well-structured your and well-organized your party is.

Here are the signs you should make to reduce the number of interruptions and ensure your guests will know where the bathrooms are:

  • Welcome sign
  • Bathroom location
  • Trash can and Recycling
  • Other helpful party signs: Shoes off or coat rack near the front door

See example signs that readers of my party-hosting handbook have made here.

Cleaning Supplies

A party ending means a mess to clean up. The most important cleaning supply that you need to have is extra trash bags. I hate whenever I host a party and I forget to empty the trash midway though!

Also have paper towels on hand in case of any spills. Plus air freshener or a scented candle in the bathroom to keep your home smelling fresh and clean.


First-time hosts might think planning and preparing for a gathering is hard. But these tips and tricks will make you look like you’ve been hosting events your whole life.

Remember to prepare these seven things to make sure your party will be successful:

  • Party Invitations
  • Venue
  • Foods and drinks
  • Party supplies
  • Party signs
  • Cleaning supplies

My name is Nick Gray and I am the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. This book teaches you how to host a successful party for any occasion. I have personally helped more than 170 people host a party. Literally all of them made new friends and deepened their relationships with existing friends.

When is your party? Send me an email and I will give you some bonus tips, including a pre-party checklist that you can print out. Plus I’ll answer any question you have, free of charge. I love talking about parties and I’m on a mission to help 500 people host their first party.

Leave a comment on this article here.

About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

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