There’s an old phrase that goes something like this: “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” While it mostly applies to business, we’ll use it as a philosophy for party planning too. If you want to throw an epic party that people will remember and talk about for a long time, it will take some imagination.

There is much to consider. What is the occasion for the party? What, if any, kind of theme will it have? Who will you invite, and what refreshments will you serve? Answering these questions well before the day of the party is paramount to making your party a memorable success.

What is the occasion?

The most important thing to take into consideration when planning a party is what are you celebrating. That may seem elementary, but it’s important to make sure that the party and the occasion are in-sync. The occasion should dictate more than just how you decorate. It should determine the tone and theme of your party, the time of day or night that you celebrate, what you serve, the music you play, and even who you invite.

If you’re throwing a St. Patrick’s day party, get people into the spirit by serving green beer alongside a traditional Irish dish. Think of some kind of fun light-hearted penalty for anyone who shows up not wearing green. Or if you’re throwing a Mardi Gras party, jazz it up. Play some traditional New Orleans jazz and second-line music for your guests to cut a rug to. Let the bourbon flow and the good times roll. The most important thing to remember when planning a party is the occasion.

Be a tone-setter

Setting the tone for your party is nearly as important as being mindful of the occasion. Indeed, the occasion should be the foremost determining factor of your party’s tone. Also, take into account where you live, what kind of neighbors you have, and what time of day or night your party will take place.

If you live in a neighborhood where you have elderly neighbors, then you may want to limit your party to being more of a get-together. If you live in a state where marijuana has not been legalized, then you don’t want your neighbors to smell a strange aroma rising from a heady glass. It is your party, and it is up to you to put concrete limits on how far your guests can go.

Making the guest-list

You want your party to be lively, yet harmonious. For that reason, it is critical that you are mindful of who you invite to the party. As you make your list, consider the tone that you want to set for the party. If you’re looking to throw a more rambunctious party, then you want a good mix of life-of-the-party types to liven it up.

You’ll also want some people there who can act in somewhat of a guardianship role. These are the friends who know how to party without going too hard. They tend to help tamp things down and ensure that everyone gets home safely.

Also, invite your neighbors. Inviting your neighbors is a great way to get to know neighbors who you aren’t acquainted with already. Chances are, most of them won’t actually show, but as you go door-to-door inviting neighbors, hand out your phone number as well. Why? You want your neighbors to be able to call you if the party becomes a disturbance to them. If they feel comfortable calling you about that, then they are less likely to call the authorities.

Don’t let planning the party of the year stress you out. The purpose of a party is to celebrate with friends and family. If you’re not having fun planning it, then you probably won’t enjoy the party. Strike a balance between planning and enjoying your party. After all, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.