Get the party stuff you need
To throw a terrific party, you're going to need a lot of party stuff. In the planning stages, your best friend will be an ongoing list of everything you've taken care of, and everything you still have to buy, rent, pick up, order or make. That way, as the big day approaches, you'll just have to look at your list to know that things are under control, and when the day before the party finally arrives, you'll be prepared and cool and able to decorate at your leisure.
Essential Party Decorations
Don't underestimate the importance of decorations -- they are one of the very first things that put guests in the right festive mood at a party. If the party's taking place in a house, tie some streamers and balloons to your mailbox or a tree at the end of your driveway, and attach some more to the front door. Not only will these decorations inspire the party spirit, but they'll also serve the practical purpose of making it easy for guests to find the address.
If you're feeling really ambitious, you could even tie some decorations to lampposts or fire hydrants at the last few turns before the destination, with arrow-shaped signs that say "Party This Way."
Guests should also be greeted by decorations upon entering your home. A big store-bought or homemade banner announcing the reason for the celebration is always a good idea, and if you're having the party for a particular someone else, try to have a banner or other decoration with their name on it -- the personalization will make them feel extra-special.
Discount Party Supplies
The cost of party stuff can add up pretty quickly, which is bad news if you're on a strict event budget. Discount stores often have an impressive selection of party decorations, and some carry other party supplies, too, such as plates and cups, party hats and bags for favors.
If you want a big decoration that you're not really excited about buying, such as a giant inflatable four-leaf clover or life-sized Uncle Sam mannequin, another option is to check out a party rentals store and see what their decoration availability and rates are.