It takes a lot of time and energy to plan and throw the perfect party. Whether you're hosting a simple baby shower or a grand reception for the ages, turn to these cool tech tools for help. Our picks of the coolest apps and gadgets are sure to streamline the planning process, pump up the party-time fun, and wow your guests.
Although it started as a basic grocery list organizer, ZipList has turned into a comprehensive meal planner. Free in both an online version and an app for iOS and Android phones, the tool can simplify planning and shopping for your party's food. Build a meal plan using recipes in its database or by adding your own, and then generate a shopping list to take with you to the grocery store. You can share your menu with others if you're getting help with catering, and ZipList can notify you about sales or coupons available in your favorite stores.
Shake things up at your next shindig with an automatic drink mixer and pourer. The $45 battery-operated Cocktail Master automatically mixes up delicious cocktails. Just add liquids, hit the button to mix everything, and then pour your creation into a glass. A measuring guide on the side makes it easy to follow your favorite drink recipes.
3. Hello Vino
If you can't afford to hire a sommelier to pour wine at your next soiree, download the Hello Vino app instead. Simply type in what food you're serving at the party and it will return pairing suggestions. For either iOS or Android phones, the app also boasts a label scanner that can give food recommendations for a particular wine. Hello Vino will also catalog wines you love and hate, so you can quickly look them up before your next party.
Trying to coordinate schedules for a small dinner party or other intimate event can be incredibly frustrating. Doodle is a free online solution for simplifying that process. Although it's not specifically a party-planning product, Doodle allows you to poll the VIPs on your guest list to pick the "when" for your party. Just enter some dates and times, send a link to invitees, and let them select what works with their schedule. You can then easily identify the most universally appealing option.
Online invitations are certainly more affordable and faster than their traditional paper counterparts, but they aren't nearly as attractive. Paperless Post aims to fix that problem. The service allows you to design custom digital invitations, complete with an envelope. There are nearly endless design options for a range of events, and they can be personalized with your messaging and photos. The service costs $5 for 30 "stamps," which are required to send the invites, and a bit more for premium designs (bulk purchasing can lower your cost). You can send invites via e-mail or post them onto your social network. The site also offers online RSVP tracking.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely heard of or are already using Pinterest. The site allows users to curate all of their favorite ideas in one place, organized on "boards" of various themes. Party planners can use the free system to find ideas for every aspect of their event, including invitations and decorations, and then catalog them for easy reference later. Pinterest now offers secret boards that a user's friends cannot see, which comes in handy when planning a surprise party.
Looking for entertainment ideas that will get the party started? Turn your iOS or Android device into a karaoke machine with the free Karaoke Anywhere app. Just like a traditional karaoke machine, users choose from the large library of songs and then hear the music while singing along to the lyrics that appear on the screen. Even better, the app includes TV and video output capabilities so all of the guests can see and play along.
8. Outdoor movie screen
End your party on a memorable note by turning your backyard into a movie theatre for a private screening. There are many affordable inflatable screens available online or at local retailers, such as this 12-foot-wide model from Walmart for $150. To complete the system, expect to pay another $500 or more for a projector with a built-in DVD player and speakers.