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You’re ready to go all out.

Maybe you’re throwing the family reunion that will finally unite four generations from across the country. Maybe you’re organizing your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Maybe you’re in charge of planning the big corporate holiday bash for your business.

Whatever the reason, you’ve got a big party on your hands, and this isn’t your typical house-party potluck. This is a big event, and it’s on you to make it rock. If you’ve never overseen something like this, you could be panicking. But fear not! Master the tasks on the below checklist, and your party will be in great shape.

A party is only as rockin’ as the people who attend, so make sure you stock yours full of people who will make it memorable (in the best possible way). Try to invite more people than you’d like to attend as a percentage will always RSVP “no” or fail to show on the day itself.

Mixing together different groups of friends (like work friends and personal acquaintances) can be a great way to get conversations started. Potentially bad combinations—like a confrontation between your conservative Aunt Jean and gungho liberal Uncle Artie—can be avoided by having a seating chart. And if you’ve got a disparate group of guests, like at a family reunion, plan different activities for all age groups so everyone has something to do.

Get the Word Out

You know your group better than anyone else, so use the method of communication that will be the most effective.

Guests for your parents’ 50th anniversary will probably be on the older side, so traditional mailed invitations and phone calls are your best bet. Your son’s friends, on the other hand, will be most likely to respond to grad party invites if they’re sent via Facebook, Evite.com or even text.

Whatever method you choose, make sure to follow up with people who fail to respond to the initial invite and to remind those who RSVP’d “yes” about a week prior to the event.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Don’t leave any of the big stuff to chance. When planning food, make sure you’re choosing items that will work well with the venue and style of party. Finger foods are best for a high-mingling party, while a sit-down dinner encourages more one-on-one conversation and intimacy. Whatever you do, prepare the food ahead of time and/or make it help-yourself so you don’t spend the whole party in the kitchen.

Hire a DJ who can spin great music and who can feel the vibe of the crowd. Or hire a small band that will play conversation-encouraging background music like classic jazz. If you want a more partying party atmosphere, ask the DJ or the music band for upbeat, danceable songs that are sure to get the party started — and ask them to play at a volume level that still lets people talk without having to shout at each other. Blue Sky Atlanta Music & Entertainment can help you book a band or DJ that’s perfect for your situation.

Give yourself ample time in the days leading up to the party to clean, set up decorations and to double-check everything so that when the day arrives, you can relax and enjoy your time with your guests.

Keep ’Em Mingling

Some parties need a little encouragement to pick up momentum, or to keep momentum going if there’s a lull. If people start to get too clique-y, introduce people to other guests they may not know and include an interesting tidbit to get the conversation started. (“Joan just came back from Spain. Dave, didn’t you do some traveling recently?”)

If you notice someone’s hanging back, give them a quick job to do that will get them interacting with people—manning the bar while you step away for a minute, collecting coats from new arrivals, etc.

End on a High Note

Don’t be afraid to say when it’s time to call it quits. It’s better to end while everyone’s still having a great time than find yourself left with a handful of stragglers and a cleanup that will take you till 2 a.m.

You don’t need to be the buzzkill who calls out “OK, party’s over”—all you need to do is start subtly (or not so subtly) cleaning up and people will begin to get the hint and take their leave.

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