Something amazing happens when we invite people into our homes for a celebration. We create community and connection. These are two of the human soul’s favorite experiences.

In a letter to her younger self, Olympia Dukakis encourages herself to “Learn how to celebrate. You’ll understand that purposefully capturing happy moments expands your soul.” I couldn’t agree more.

Applying an easy six-element approach when designing your next party or intimate gathering will help you throw a meaningful or purposeful party people will remember for a lifetime.

Element #1 - Theme, Mood and Color
Every great party starts with a great theme. Themes provide a winning blueprint for many party decisions, making those selections easier. Themes also help to set the mood and determine your color scheme. Once these decisions have been made, carry out your theme in everything you do because it enrolls your guests into the complete party experience.

Element #2 - Invitations
The power of the invitation should never be underestimated. The invitation is one of the most important elements to your gathering because it sets the tone for the entire event and has the power to make your guests feel special and wanted. Since they are the first thing your guests see, be thoughtful on how to make them stand out, capture your guest’s attention and make them want to come. Beyond the practicality of logistics, the invitation is also the perfect place to introduce your theme and create excitement.

Element #3 - Decor and Ambiance
Our surroundings affect us every moment of the day, so be sure to create a party space that is harmonious and balanced. Decor refers to decorations and ambiance to the character and atmosphere of your party space, which is greatly enhanced with lighting and music, for example. Together, décor and ambiance can transform an otherwise blasé and forgettable affair into an enjoyable and memorable one. When decorating, let your theme be your guide and work your way down from the ceiling to the floors.

Element #4 - Food and Beverage
This element does not have to be time consuming nor difficult. Take advantage of your resources and make it easy on yourself. Plan your menu so that it relates to the overall objective and theme of the party. Remember to simply “flow like the river” and never stress about food and drinks. May this be your food and beverage mantra.

Element #5 - Activities
Thinking back to some of the best parties you’ve ever been to, what made them so great? Chances are it all boils down to your experience, what you did, and your level of participation. Even if all you did was play bartender for a while or help out in the kitchen, you were invested, you were engaged. Getting your guests engaged in something is one of the secrets to a great party because it creates experiences and great experiences are memorable.

Element #6 - Special Touches
Special touches are acknowledgements, large or small, that demonstrate how important and special your guests are to you. This is the element that will set your party apart from all others because it comes from your heart! These gifts from the heart can be tangible items such as party favors or keepsakes; verbal acknowledgements such as toasts, tributes or written declarations; or visual gifts such as performance art or audio and visual presentations.

Do take a moment and acknowledge your guests somehow. Regardless of what you choose to bestow upon them, share with them from your heart how important they are to you. This will make all the difference in the world and provide a rich party experience they will remember for a lifetime.

Author's Bio: 

Known to many as the “Queen of Connection,” Shelby Phillips is a Party Designer, author and TV host who loves bringing people together with parties. Her “Enlightened Party Planner” book series, “Guides to Creating Parties from the Heart” is available at Amazon and LuLu. Her easy six-element approach to party planning comes to life on her newest how-to show, “Shelby's Secrets to a Great Party!” airing on