Industry professionals explain how to make any get-together successful


So, you’ve graduated. You’ve got a new job, new friends and a new sense of freedom. You’re a pro at throwing an all-night kegger, but what you’re lacking is the finesse and sophistication to throw a grown-up party that will impress your new colleagues in your grown-up world.

Siobhan Marshall, coordinator and event design specialist for Visual Concepts Events, and Jade Piraux of Every Last Detail Event Management, give their top tips to make your shindig a success.

Location and date

Be aware of how many guests you will have and how much space you will need, Marshall says. Work with the furniture that you have and add seating as needed. Add cocktail tables or stools and drape them with fabric to make them a part of your party’s décor.

Piraux says you should avoid picking a date on holidays and long weekends to ensure good attendance.

Pick a theme

“When you’re throwing a house party and don’t have a lot of experience, a theme is always a good way to tie everything in together,” Piraux says.dinnerpartyAn easy theme idea would be to base your party around a specific colour scheme.

Photo Courtesy of Elin B via Flickr

“Make your theme apparent from the get-go,” Marshall adds. “You can include this on the invitations themselves or through their delivery method — if you’re throwing a Hollywood party, deliver the invitations as Hollywood stars with your guests’ names on them.”

The budget


5 Signature Drinks Under 150 Calories


1 oz. white rum (58 calories)

Muddle rum with 6 mint leaves, 3 wedges of lime and a small handful of fresh cucumber. Add a splash of soda water and shake with ice. Pour into new glass and top with fresh soda water. Garnish with mint and a lime wedge.

Blueberry lemonade

1 oz. blueberry vodka (69 calories)

3 oz. lemonade concentrate (37 calories)

3 oz. water

Muddle small handful of fresh blueberries with vodka. Add lemonade concentrate and water and shake well with ice. Strain into new glass with fresh ice. Garnish with fresh blueberries on top.

Strawberry daiquiri

1 oz. white rum (58 calories)

¾ cup frozen strawberries (57 calories)

1 oz citrus concentrate (35 calories)

½ cup ice

Combine all ingredients and blend to desired consistency. Pour into tall glass and garnish with fresh strawberries.

 Soho white cranberry cocktail

½ oz. lychee liquor (51 calories)

½ oz. vodka (32 calories)

4 oz white cranberry juice (55 calories)

 Shake all over ice, garnish with fresh cranberries and enjoy.

 Vanilla apple cocktail

1 oz. vanilla vodka (69 calories)

5 oz. soda water

Powdered green apple martini mix

Pour powdered mix into vodka and soda water and mix well until dissolved. Pour into new tall glass over ice and enjoy!

Piraux says a party that provides alcohol, appetizers, finger foods and desserts for around
25 people can be easily done for $200 to $300 — if you do it yourself with smart shopping, prepping and planning.


“Match the menu to your theme,” Marshall says.

Be aware of your guests possible food concerns and allergies. Do a taste test before the night to make sure your treats will be as tasty as you intended. One simple menu Piraux suggests is wine and cheese. “You can ask guests to bring their favourite bottle of wine and put together your own platters of cheese, crackers and meats.”


Don’t panic when thinking how much drinks could cost, Piraux says. “It’s quite common etiquette to not show up at a party empty handed.”

Have the basics on hand, she suggests — a couple bottles of wine, spirits and beer. Marshall suggests that if you have the time and creativity, come up with a signature drink.

Keep it simple

Piraux says one of the biggest mistakes people make is going over the top with details.

“Everything looks messy and cluttered and that’s when you may overlook something,” she says.

But Marshall says to still keep it sophisticated, “That means no plastic allowed. Match your glasses to the beverages — wine glasses for wine, cocktail glasses for cocktails.”


Soft lighting, dimmers and candlelight can help create a sophisticated atmosphere, Marshall says. Fresh flowers are another way to liven up the room on a minimal budget, Piraux adds. She says that the combination of candles, tablecloths and bouquets makes the room look warm and inviting.


If you can’t be at the door the whole time, have someone available to greet your guests,
Marshall suggests. Have a place for jackets, boots, etc. and take them at the door. Introduce everyone to each other, so that they feel comfortable while you’re making your rounds, she adds.

Working the room

“This can be one of the more challenging aspects of the party. You do need to make sure that there isn’t one person who’s left sitting in the corner by themselves, but at the same time you want to interact with all of the guests that you’ve invited as well,” Piraux says.

One way to establish conversation early on is with simple icebreaker games.


Marshall says to always say goodbye and thank your guests for attending.

Piraux mentions that you should keep in mind that you don’t want to over-serve a guest who may be driving. Have taxi numbers available to ensure everybody’s safe arrival home.

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