Everyone (well, almost) loves a good party, but at some point in the process, planning and putting it together can become drudgery. There are so many different elements to keep track of, depending on the event: a menu, for example. A guest list. Beverages. Music. Party favours.
No matter what kind of party you're having, at some point things can start to spin out of control. But that's where your trusty iOS device can step in. Certainly you can use some of the built-in apps such as Calendar and Notes to help keep things straight, but those tools are going to run out of steam.
Thank goodness there are hordes of developers who offer great applications to make it easier to ensure your next party is a raging success. Whether it's a pocket bartender that'll help you make the best cocktails or a DJ mixing board to make sure everyone's having a rockin' good time, iOS can help.
If logistics are more your thing, we've got that covered in spades too, with everything from meal guides to wedding planners to complete party planning software. Parties vary in all shapes and sizes, depending on your mood and the occasion. You're going to use a very different set of skills to make a cowboy party for your six-year-old compared to a fancy dress soirée with a five-course meal.
So come check out our list of the 10 best apps for throwing a kick-ass party, make sure you let the neighbours know and put on your dancing shoes, because these gems could well help kick your next bash up a notch or two, and keep things going until the break of dawn.
1. Pro Party Planner
An all-in-one planning tool to help you make your next bash a huge success
It's no wonder party planning is a full-time profession for some - from planning a guest list to making a menu and buying decorations, party favour bags and planning activities… it can be an exhausting morass of details that can all too easily get the better of even the most organised of hosts.
If you don't have the budget for a personal party planner you could always hire (or rather, download) Pro Party Planner from Zysco. Pro Party Planner is essentially a dedicated database for the anal-retentive party host who wants to keep their eye on every element of their next big happening.
This impressive tool does practically everything: input guest's names, email and phone numbers, and you can check them off as they RSVP. Plan a menu, drinks, entertainment, decorations and party favours, and then assign individual tasks to the people helping you put your party together.
You can even keep track of your budget, see a timeline to make sure you're all on schedule, and connect to Pinterest to get ideas and inspiration for how to make your next bash a success. You can connect with your Contacts database and back up and export data to Google.
If you want to share your Pro Party Planner information with another user - if, say, two of you are organising the party together, you'll need to activate a subscription as an In-App Purchase that runs for 12 months for another £1.99.
A karaoke machine to get everyone at the party singing their hearts out
Price: Free Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
Once the drinks start flowing and inhibitions become a bit lowered, karaoke can be a hilarious way to get the party moving. Buying or renting a full-blown karaoke machine isn't necessary these days thanks to JoltSoft's Karaoke Anywhere, available in a regular version for iPhone and iPod touch and an 'HD' version for iPad (and happily, both are free to download).
Karaoke Anywhere gives you access to a library of officially licensed karaoke songs. If you've ever done karaoke at a bar, the presentation is pretty similar: you hear a cover of the popular song you remember along with a screen of lyrics that slowly change colour to keep you on track of the tempo.
If reading lyrics off an iPad (or iPhone) doesn't sound like fun, the app features TV and video output capabilities. It can also record the songs if you want to embarrass the participants later!
Built-in effects can help you tweak the vocals a bit - handy when things get a bit sloppy late into the evening. Karaoke Anywhere is a free download that includes 200 well-known tracks - everything from Aerosmith to Wilson Pickett. If you want more - and you will - you can either subscribe to its unlimited streaming service (£6.99 per year) or you can pay per track.
A sophisticated music player that helps you spin the perfect party mix
Price: £2.99 / $4.99 USD Works with: iPad
Nothing sets the mood and tempo of a party like a music mix, and nothing brings down the vibe faster than hearing… nothing. That's where algoriddim's djay comes into play.
This is a one-stop shop to making music on your iPad, using an interface that looks just like a twin-turntable DJ deck. (A separate version has just been launched for the iPhone too (69p), but it's obviously easier to scratch away on the iPad's larger screen.
You load music from your iPad's music library and then crossfade, mix, scratch and add effects as you want. Automatic beat-matching will adjust each track for a smooth flow, and you can manage levels and a wide variety of effects like echo, flange, phaser, bit crusher and gate, to give your mix that club feel. You can also loop and adjust equalisation.
Live mixing is only part of what djay can do, though: if you'd rather talk with your guests at the party and hang out instead of spin discs, you can record a mix ahead of time and then play it back for your guests once they are there. Hey, if you've gone to all the trouble of organising the party, you should get to enjoy the beats, too!
Like having a bartender in your pocket, but you don't have to tip
Price: 69p / 99¢ Works with: iPhone, iPod touch
Unless you're a professional bartender, you might only know how to make a handful of cocktails. Digital Outcrop's Mixologist (also available in more limited free form as 'Mixology') fixes that by providing a searchable list of hundreds of cocktail and party beverage recipes ranging from Shirley Temples to Long Island Iced Tea jelly shots.
But cocktail recipes and a good search tool are only two of many items on Mixologist's impressive résumé. The app also lets you narrow your search depending on what you have in your liquor cabinet (whiskies are differentiated, so you can find recipes for scotch drinks separately from bourbon, as are flavoured and unflavoured vodkas) and what kind of mixers you have on hand (cordials, juices, mixes, sodas and other items are all included).
For the well-stocked boozehound, a 'random' feature lets you come up with a unique concoction you might have never tried (and might never try again, if it isn't nice…).
Get ready for the big day with organisational tools and social networking
Price: Free Works with: iPhone, iPod touch
WeddingHappy is like having a hyper-organised wedding planner in your pocket. Give it the planned date for your nuptials and the app will do the rest, building a customised to-do list with suggested due dates that you can change to your liking.
The secret to its success is in its complete coverage of everything that brides and grooms (and their families and friends) need to keep track of before the big day - such as: who's catering the event? DJ or band? Which dress shop and florist to opt for?
Mercifully, you can keep on top of all these tasks and, along with that, you can use WeddingHappy to see where you are along the way: how many tasks have been completed and how many are yet to do, when they should be done, and who's involved. 'Achievements' even help you keep track of major milestones, such as finalising a wedding date or delegating a task to someone else by email. It's free, but paying £1.99 will let you track as many tasks as you want.
Planning your party and getting all the goods together are important, but you also have to get the word out. Bucket Labs' Phoster helps you do exactly that using exquisite typography and lots of customisation options.
First, you select one of 87 free templates; there's a handful of holiday-specific templates for Christmas, Valentine's Day, New Year's and Halloween, along with a wedding template. But most of the options are flexible enough to be used for almost any occasion that might arise.
You can add images from your photo library and adjust brightness, contrast and saturation, and input your own text into fields and customise it with colours and font sizes. You can also add filters or add some custom patterning. It's even possible to output it to other apps if you'd like to make additional changes.
Phoster includes the ability to print (if you have AirPrint-compatible devices on your network) or you can email or use Facebook, Flickr, Twitter or Instagram to share your images with the world.
Coming up with recipes that truly impress your guests can be tricky, and there's only so much to be gleaned from the average cooking show on television. Food52's Holiday Recipes & Party Planning Guide offers suggestions for how to really dress up your next dinner party with 127 exquisite recipes, from snacks and starters to desserts, with drinks, breads, soups and everything in between.
A dedicated section offers suggestions if holiday planning's on your mind: everything from making a romantic Valentine's Day meal for two to celebrating Easter with the entire family (the guide offers a somewhat US-centric holiday list - including Thanksgiving and Independence Day, for example - and all measurements are in standard units). The recipes themselves are accompanied by lush photography and video.
If you're a busy parent, it can be exhausting to try to put together a fun party for your little ones. Finding the right time around other busy schedules is bad enough, but what happens if you can't come up with an imaginative theme? This app is based on (and linked to) a popular website by Kara Allen, who's also published a book on the topic to share her party ideas to the masses.
The app is full of great ideas to dress up any party, though the focus here is mainly on family parties, especially ones for younger kids. The app breaks down parties by category - boy, girl, western, princesses and so on. There are a few 'grown up' categories as well - sports, beach and teen bridal shower, to name a few.
Each entry provides photos and descriptions of ideas, and will often include links to Etsy sites and other places you can buy custom decorations and printable patterns.
All party hosts and guests dread the awkward moment of silence that can occur when polite conversation has run its course. That's where Conversation Cards comes in handy - it's a fun and easy way to start or continue a conversation.
The app offers a number of interesting questions you can ask others at the party, ranging from 'What is the happiest moment of your life?' to 'Would you rather be a ninja or a pirate?' Just tap the screen to flip over a new topic.
Clear typography make the cards easy to read, which means you can unobtrusively load the app up on your iPhone if you don't want to make a show of it. There isn't a way to mark cards as 'read', so you might come across repetition, but the questions steer clear of theology, politics, and the Great Pumpkin, so you don't have to worry about breaking Peanuts' Linus Van Pelt's cardinal rule.
A fun twist on the classic party game with customisation options
Price: Free Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
Generations of party-goers have played Charades, the game where one person stands up and the rest of the team tries to figure out what they're pantomiming. Reverse Charades takes the concept and turns it on its head: Now the entire team acts out the words, and it's up to one person to guess the clue.
Suitable for two to four teams of potentially any size, it takes place in timed 30-, 60- or 90-second rounds. A small number of sample cards have been included, but to really unlock the game's full potential you'll need to buy booster packs through IAP. The packs cost 69p each and feature content for kids, '80s trivia buffs, a 'Girl's Night' and more (six in all).
The original pack sports 500 cards; other add-ons range from 163 to 724 cards. Options let you select which card deck or decks you'll use, how long each round will be, how many rounds there are and how many seconds per turn.