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Making it Go with a Swing!

Making it Go with a Swing!

Parties should ‘go with a swing’. This means that there’s a buzz about the place and everyone is engaged in the party and enjoying it. That doesn’t mean organising a party out of existence! You might want your party to be completely freewheeling and unstructured. For many occasions this will be fine and probably what your guests want. However, for some special occasions it may be that you want to include various elements into the function. These may include:

Organising that Special Party Links

Guide to Organising that Special Party

Venue Guests and Invitations

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Something Completely Different


- An icebreaker, for people to get to know each other. A good one is to give everyone a famous name pinned on their back and guests have to find their partner – Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire or Noddy and Big Ears, for example.

- Games. You need to think carefully whether your guests are the kind of people who like games and, if so, what sort. For some ideas, go to  and You need to be sure that people will prefer having games organised for them rather than doing their own thing before you start organising them. They can be a lot of fun but be careful.

- Speeches. You may well have a very good reason for wanting one or two speeches. You may want to formally thank your guests for coming, for example. If it’s an anniversary, you may want to say something about your partner as you may if it’s your partner’s birthday. Speeches are ideally made just after people have finished eating, but make sure that everyone has something with which to drink a toast. If you want some ideas visit the following websites: or you can buy one at will even generate a speech for you.

- Presents. You may be organising your party for someone else – it could even be a surprise party. If that’s the case, it may well be that you wish to ask them to bring a present for the person/people for whom you are organising it. On the other hand, you may want to make a point of telling people not to bring a present. This may be particularly appropriate if you are organising a party for your own Anniversary, say, and you don’t want people to feel they have to bring a gift for you. You may have seen this before, but saying, ‘No presents, please, just your presence’, is a nice  way to put it.
If you want some present ideas from Personalised Champagne to Experience Days visit our Laterlife Anniversary Gifts page.

If you want any or all of these elements or some form of entertainment, which is covered below, you need to think about when you will have them and for how long they should last. You need a good balance to the party so that no one element dominates.


The basic question is whether to have entertainment at all. Many celebrations are a great success without it and people are quite happy just to chat. However, if you wish to have some entertainment you could consider the following:

  • Disco
  • Karaoke
  • Jazz band
  • Pop band
  • Table magician
  • Barn dance
  • Casino
  • Horse racing party

Any of these can work well but, as with so much concerning the organisation of a celebration, you must consider your guests first. What are they likely to want? Only after you have answered that question can you consider what sort of entertainment to organise.


There are a whole host of extras that might help your celebration go with a swing. You might want to decorate the venue to make it look more festive, you might like party poppers or you might feel that candles will give it more atmosphere.

Have a look at or to get some ideas. You can order your extras from them, too, if you wish.

Fireworks always add that something extra. A short display after people have eaten always goes down well. Visit our Things to do and Venues page to find a company that will do fireworks for you.

The other thing that can really add to the atmosphere, if you have some trees in the garden, are a couple of Halogen spotlights pointing up into the trees. You can get them from as little as £5. Of course you need a reel outdoor extension cable too. There is a great selection of contemporary lighting for gardens to be found these days. This sort of thing interspersed with some insect repellent candles on stakes (available from most good DIY stores these days), creates a really great atmosphere.


If you think that having a theme will enhance things, you can decorate your venue appropriately. It also means fancy dress, of course, so don’t forget to tell your guests the theme on the invitation.

Again, think about your guests before you do this. Not everyone likes fancy dress, so if you think that a number of your guests would be uncomfortable with it, then perhaps you should steer clear of it. On the other hand, it’s great fun! Choose a theme, if you have one, that’s reasonably simple to dress up to. For example, ‘What You Were Wearing When the Ship Went Down’ gives people plenty of scope. People enjoy dressing up as they were in the 60s or how about ‘Kings and Queens’?  The latter gives scope for the obvious but also Elvis (King of Rock and Roll), Freddy Mercury (Queen), Queen Bees, Kingfishers, Lions (King of the jungle) and so on.

If the party is for someone (it might be a special birthday party or a retirement party) you could choose a theme that reflects one of their hobbies or interests. So if they're a football fan, make that the theme and do the decorations in the colours of their favourite team.

You might get some other ideas from one of the web sites that sells fancy dress costumes.  or  are good ones

This Guide to Organising That Special Party is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
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