Pre-plan: Planning is key for a successful night out, unless you're just heading to your favorite neighborhood bar for a drink. So research where you plan to go, and make sure to check if you need reservations, whether there's a happy hour, and what the dress code is.
It's all about that vibe: When planning a celebratory night out with a group, consider the vibe you're going for first. To avoid being overwhelmed, think about what you're celebrating and who you're celebrating with, and use that to narrow your choices down by ambiance. For instance, are you looking for an intimate venue serving dinner, a lounge for drinks with just a few friends, or a live music club for a raucous birthday party?
Consider a theme: If going out in a large group, consider a themed night out, as this can help bring the group together and break the ice, especially when it's an event where many guests may not know each other.
Know your limits: When it comes to drinking, know what you can tolerate and pace yourself. Nothing will make a perfect night go sour faster than someone getting completely sloshed in the first hour and starting a fight or getting your group booted from the venue.
Think about the guest list: Before you just send a Facebook invite out to your entire friend list, consider whom you really want to spend a night out with. For a perfect night, even if you're celebrating something big, the smaller the group, the better. This is especially true if you're hitting up a few different spots. If you do need to invite more people, consider keeping your list smaller for the majority of the night and then picking a final venue where more people can join.
Ask your friends: If you're heading out with a big group of friends, take a survey of what people are expecting before simply booking a table at your favorite lounge. This way, everyone feels they helped choose the location and no one will be upset upon arrival.
Plan your outfit: Think about where you are going: Is it one venue or many? Will they have a coat check? Is there a dress code? If you're worried, ask your friends what they plan to wear. Then choose an outfit that makes you feel good about yourself while still remaining comfortable. Also consider how much you will be standing when choosing shoes.
Ticketed events: If you're going to a theater performance, a concert, a sporting event, or anywhere else you need tickets, try to purchase them in advance. This avoids the disaster of not getting in, and means you don't waste time lining up to buy them. But remember to leave a bit of extra time to pick your tickets up at the venue if needs be.
Know how you're getting around: Plan in advance how you will get to and from the venue/s. If you know you'll be drinking, you'll need a designated driver. Better yet, just leave the car home and take a cab, Uber, or similar.
Avoid the hangover: There's nothing worse than waking up with a splitting headache and sour stomach after a night of drinking, but of course it does happen. To avoid the worst hangover, limit how much you drink, stay hydrated throughout the night (a good rule of thumb is to match each drink with a glass of water), and make sure to eat. Some people even take a few Ibuprofen before going to bed.