How to Host an Adult Birthday Party at Home

Recently, I hosted my 21st birthday party for my daughter, and the challenge was to create an event that appealed to everyone from our Great-Grandparents to our pre-teen cousins. While also ensuring that it felt like a young adult party.

How to plan an adult birthday party at home?

One practical tip for hosting a multi-generational event is considering a small venue or Hosting at home. This allows for a more intimate setting and easier management of the diverse age groups.

The party would take place over Memorial Day weekend in the Midwest, so after months of being cooped up inside, we opted for an outdoor event to take advantage of the warmer temps.

My daughter loves afternoon tea, so we decided on a Garden Party theme in the backyard. Ironically, we had started a flower bed the summer before and planned to plant it out entirely this year, so it was perfect timing to host the family and share all the new editions.

What time should an adult birthday party start?

When sending out the invites, I chose to start the party at 3pm. This was a little early for a dinner party, but I wanted to consider our grandparents and any guests who would prefer to be home in the evening. This meant the sun would be directly over the table. As our small yard would not accommodate a professional tent, I opted for oversized umbrellas. These provided shade and protection from the sun, while also adding a festive touch to the outdoor setting.

We rented four 8ft. long tables and thirty-two garden chairs for the setup. I prefer these as they tend not to sink in the grass like the plastic chairs. We placed a 10-in outdoor umbrella on a stand between each table; the bonus was that these umbrellas had integrated solar-powered lights, which glowed beautifully through the evening.

How do you decorate for a tea party?

I wanted to elevate the feel of the birthday party to ensure it felt like a young adult party, so I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. She loved the look of vintage lace and crystal.

After receiving quotes for rental dinnerware that were outside of the budget, we decided to mix high and low party decor. This allowed us to create a unique and eclectic look for the event, while also staying within our budget. My daughter and I love vintage shopping, so we opted for vintage crystal stemware that we thrifted from Goodwill. We spent several weeks scouring thrift stores and online marketplaces for the perfect vintage lace tablecloths and crystal stemware. This process was not only fun but also allowed us to find unique pieces that added a personal touch to the event, and because most pieces were under $2, it was significantly less than renting while collecting pieces we could reuse for future events.  

And although it was quite easy to find the stemware, vintage lace tablecloths were challenging and pricey. Instead, we found a budget option on Amazon that still offered the look we wanted. Since the lace would cover the majority of the tabletop, we used plastic tablecloths as a base. This saved money versus renting and added the perfect pop of color. Note I used two plastic tablecloths per table to allow us to adjust the length on the sides.

Hosting tips for a good outdoor party

I used citronella pillar candles in the hurricane lanterns, which I also found for $.99 Goodwill, to keep my guests comfortable from pests. Speaking of pests, after an entertaining fall last year, I knew we needed something to keep flies out of the house. I found this heavy-duty self closing screen for the sliding door, that worked perfectly with the kids and pets too!

A last minute purchase that really helped with keeping my family comfortable during the party were two outdoor/indoor fans. I was so impressed with the Shark FlexBreeze Fan flexibility, we were able to use them cordless & corded and transform from pedestal to tabletop. Also, they are incredibly quiet, and you can feel the breeze from over 70 feet.

What should be included in an afternoon tea party?

How could we have a garden party without fresh flowers? The floral arrangements were a key element of our Garden Party theme, adding a touch of elegance and color to the event. I’m no florist, but over the years of making my own floral arrangements, I’ve picked up a few tricks. A few days prior to the party, I took a trip to Trader Joe’s for some specialty flowers for the party centerpieces. I selected peonies as my wow factor because they are in season, and add so much texture to a bouquet. Then, I picked up some pastel-dyed babies’ breath and eucalyptus for filler.

diy foral arrangement

Next, I went to Costco for the remaining flowers, like roses, hydrangeas, mums, and carnations.

I ordered a pack of four of the viral acrylic flower vases for under $10 each and mixed those with some crystal vases we already had for the centerpieces. The trick to arranging the buds in the holes was to create three or four mini clusters and then fill in the open hole with Baby’s-breath.

What food to serve at an adult birthday party?

I wanted to create zones that would encourage our guests to move around the space, so I chose to set up a drink station outside adjacent to the tables. We passed some appetizers during the first hour, which allowed us to mingle with everyone, but we kept the entrees indoors. The menu was carefully planned to cater to all tastes and dietary restrictions, with a mix of meat and vegetarian options.

The starters included shrimp cocktails, BBQ meatballs, deviled eggs, and a pasta salad.

It was important to me that we didn’t overexert ourselves cooking for 30+ people, so I ordered dinner through Olive Garden’s Catering Menu. This was the best decision!

For a party of 32, I ordered:

Four Lasagna Classico (Serves up to 12)

Two Chicken Parmesan

Two Chicken Scampi

Two Jumbo House Salads

The chicken parmesan and scampi came with pans of pasta and sauce on the side. Also, the salads included a dozen breadsticks, but I added a few extra. The night before the party, we made Alfredo sauce at home because it’s effortless and tastes better. My daughter also made a red sauce, which we used to stretch the sauce provided by Olive Garden and add a homemade touch.

Overall, catering the event was a resounding success. We had more than enough food and could have even ordered two pans of Lasagna Classico, and one salad less. The leftovers came in handy the day after for entertaining more family.

Simple cocktail for a garden party for adults

I made a batch of IKEA’s Summer cocktail, a crowd favorite, with five simple ingredients. We made fresh lemonade served in a vintage punch bowl we found for under $20, including the cups. And we kept a variety of sodas and water cool in the Classic Outdoor Rolling Patio Cooler. Surprisingly, this was a crowd favorite over the entire weekend, as we were all impressed with how long the cooler kept drinks chilled days later.

What do you put on a dessert party table?

My daughter’s only request was a chocolate cake from Portillo’s. For the non-chocolate people, I served vanilla cupcakes, mini-cheesecakes, and cake pops from Sam’s Club. Of course, we offer tea and coffee service as well. We sent guests home with custom tea party cookies from Tasty Treats Bakery, which were equally beautiful and delicious!

How do you keep guests entertained at a birthday party?

One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening was the games we played with the guests. Upon arrival, we passed out a game called’ 21 Questions,’ in which guests answered twenty-one questions about the birthday girl. The questions were a mix of multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank. This activity was a hit, and it was heartwarming to see our friends and family having such a great time.

Lastly, after dessert, we played a few rounds of family-friendly Bingo. This game was a hit with all ages, including the little ones. I ordered reusable bingo boards, which are perfect for the outdoors and keep the fun going without markers or chips. We ended the evening with a classic Midwest bonfire.

What makes a good party for adults?

Overall, it was a perfect day! If I could have done anything differently, I would have placed the wine on the tables before serving dinner, as many guests felt uncomfortable opening bottles displayed in the drink station. I hope you found this helpful, if so please share this post with a friend.

Leave a Comment