Now that you have chosen your theme and set your party date (and still have your sanity in tact!) it’s time to consider your party venue. This can be as simple as saying “My living room”, but may also, depending on your theme/occasion, may require a larger venue to hold all your guests!

The theme and style of your party play a pivotal role in venue selection. A formal gala might call for a grand ballroom, while a casual get-together fits perfectly in a cozy backyard.

How To Choose The Perfect Party Venue - Party Hosting Tips

Where to Host?

Your Home

A party in your home is ideal for intimate gatherings, themed dinner parties, casual celebrations or certain sizes of murder mystery parties. Your home offers a personal and comfortable setting that can be easily customized, and when that final guest leaves at 2am, the pesky clean up can be procrastinated until the next day.

A Private Room in a Restaurant

The back, private room of a restaurant is perfect for small to medium-sized gatherings where food is a focal point. This is one of my personal favourite venue options, and it’s often overlooked as an alternative to throwing your party in your home. The cooking and clean up is off your plate (pun intended) and on the restaurant, leaving you free to enjoy your party and your guests in an intimate and private setting.

A Large Event Venue

For big events like weddings or milestone birthday parties, a larger venue offers the space and facilities to accommodate more guests comfortably.

A Backyard or Park

A backyard or outdoor party space offers a versatile setting for a variety of themes, from garden parties to barbecues, providing a personal touch and flexibility in decoration. There’s a serious downside though, over which even the best hosts have no control: the weather.

A few years ago, I threw Murder in Wonderland in a friend’s backyard. The weather forecast was completely clear – a small chance of a slight drizzle, but sunny skies and not a cloud in sight. I was in full-steam-ahead décor creation: giant mushrooms out of golf umbrellas, mosquito netting over our Mad Hatter’s Tea Party table, croquet, flamingoes, mirrors and a tunnel for everyone to crawl through as they arrived to get to my backyard “Wonderland”…

I left to go to a local cheese and chocolate shop to pick up the gold-dusted flamingo chocolates I had ordered, and the charcuterie boards.

While I was gone though, an all-out storm broke out. I have video of us standing in the garage during this completely un-forecasted torrential downpour, watching all my hard work being blown to smithereens by the wanna-be hurricane sweeping through. What was even weirder was that (and I’m not exaggerating here) that storm only hit two streets in the city. What happened next though felt meant to be, so if you want the full details, and the video that came out of it, Click Here!

So, with a backyard party, you are at the mercy of the elements, but we resilient and versatile hosts roll with whatever Mother Nature serves (up) for our parties.

Many party hosts will simply default to using their homes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, just for the sake of this party hosting exploration, let’s toy with the idea of getting a larger venue – here’s why…

A lot of the prep and clean up is done for you. This is huge if you have a big vision of what you want to have happen at your party. For example, I used our Murder at the 1980s Prom to host a fundraiser for our local CrimeStoppers. We ended up using The Legion here in town, which was great for us for a few reasons:

  • It was a fundraiser, so it was vital to have our overhead low so that the maximum amount of ticket sales could go to the cause
  • They already had a bar, and employed someone to work the bar, which meant I didn’t have to find a provincially-approved bartender, buy stock, try to anticipate what everyone would want to drink etc.
  • Ditto for the food. While we brought our own finger foods, they prepared some bigger hors d’oeuvres for us, leaving me and my co-hosts to focus on the other details of the event (like the balloon arch, hanging fabric from the ceiling and a myriad of other things we included to up the Wow-Factor)
  • The set-up and take-down of our decorations, balloon arch etc was our responsibility – the rest was taken care of by the venue. So, I didn’t have to worry about stocking things like toilet paper, sweeping, mopping and all the other party prep things we tend to forget to factor in when caught up in the excitement of planning parties.
  • Even at the Legion, we were given an event coordinator, which took care of a lot of tiny things that were so helpful, like moving partitions, tables and more – and because she was awesome, she even helped us blow up balloons when our helium tank died suddenly.

Presumably, at this point you have followed the steps in the previous articles and are clear on your party theme. If not, go back and do this step – it’s going to have a huge part in everything you do going forward.

Budget Considerations

Your budget is one of the most critical factors in venue selection. Each option comes with different costs:

Your Home and Backyard: While seemingly cost-effective, remember to account for rentals, décor, food and/or catering. Please, host, also consider the cost of the extra work on you, because, as we always say, a relaxed host is a great host.

Restaurant Back Room: Costs may include a minimum spend or rental fee, but you’ll save on catering and possibly décor, not to mention not having to do the set up, clean up, or have to deal with food prep and stocking your bar.

Larger Venue: These typically have higher rental fees but may offer packages that include essentials like chairs, tables, catering, décor, a DJ, a bartender and more.

Size and Capacity

The size of your guest list will directly influence your venue choice (More on crafting your guest list next week, but you should, at this point, know whether you are talking around 10 people or 100). Ensure the space accommodates your guests comfortably, with room for activities or entertainment you plan to include.

And here’s something to keep in mind: a larger venue and a smaller guest list is a recipe for disaster! Wait – what?

So as humans we have this strange thing we do where we want to feel like we are in a place where there are other people. I talk about this a lot when discussing how to control the flow of a mystery party, and a phenomenon I have coined “Bunching”. People will go where the other people are instinctually. Also, most people tend to feel uncomfortable in a big space that’s not filled with people. It’s hilarious but true. Like when you walk into a restaurant and there’s no one there, and no music playing – we feel extremely awkward! We feel on display, which for many guests, is a very uncomfortable feeling.

So, let’s say you have 50 people in a venue meant for more like 200. What will happen is that you’ll end up with all 50 in the back corner, and no one will be on your dance floor, because there’s not enough people around to take the attention off them. Chances are everyone will “Bunch” around the food table or the bar. This is definitely not what we want as hosts!

The easy solution, if you can’t use a smaller venue, is to use partitions and visual barriers. Most venues will have those rolling walls that you can use to block off half the room and decorate so it fits with your décor and theme.

Accessibility and Location

Consider how easy it is for your guests to get to the venue. A convenient location, ample parking, or proximity to public transportation can greatly enhance attendance and enjoyment.

Availability and Booking

Popular venues book up fast, especially during peak seasons like Christmas/The Holidays, so start your search for a venue as soon as you know your party date.

Amenities and Logistics

Look into what the venue provides versus what you’ll need to source yourself. Some key considerations include:

  • Catering: Does the venue offer in-house catering, or will you need to hire outside services/bring your own?
  • A/V Equipment: For entertainment or presentations, check the availability of audio-visual equipment. This can be as simple as “can I hook into your audio system to play my Spotify Party Mix?”
  • Décor and Setup: Clarify what decorations you can bring and any restrictions the venue may have (ie: no tape on the walls – that’s a common one I hear)

Negotiation and Contracts

Don’t shy away from negotiating with venue managers, especially on price, package inclusions, and flexibility. Carefully review contracts for deposit requirements, cancellation policies, and what’s included in the venue package.

Tips and Hacks for Securing Your Venue

Book Off-Peak: Consider less popular dates or days of the week for better rates. A venue I used to deal with said they always had the best turn-outs on Thursday nights, and considering the weekend rates for some places, this could save you some cash.

Leverage Connections: Use personal or professional connections for recommendations or discounts. That Legion I mentioned? The bartender was a friend of mine, so not only did she get us a good rate, she was also kind enough to donate all her tips for the night to the cause.

Sometimes the venue will be an easy part of your party planning, and sometimes it will take a bit more creativity, but, dear host, only you know which one is right for your party hosting style. Having said that, trying a new venue is a fantastic way to up your party hosting skills, so get creative!

While not all parties are “theme parties,” all parties have a theme. Whether it’s a simple color scheme or an elaborate murder mystery, the theme you choose sets the tone for the entire event. Remember, the best theme is one that resonates with you and your guests, creating unforgettable memories.

We have so many Pinterest boards to inspire your party planning – join us!

Or, hang here and browse some more of our Party Planning How-Tos to make your party one no one will ever forget!

Murder mystery party tip!

Get the package that fits your CONFIRMED guests, not the “maybes” and “on-the-fencers”. We live this hosting life, and know that not everyone can firm up an RSVP (and let’s face it, some are just flaky… yup, we are just dropping truth today…). The packages are designed to have everyone, even if they aren’t a suspect themselves, be fully involved with the mystery, so don’t worry about anyone feeling like they aren’t involved. Trust us – most times the Sleuths have more fun than the Suspects.

Try this Hosting Hack when planning your next party, and let us know how it goes!

How To Choose The Perfect Party Venue - Party Hosting Tips