Planning a party that you want to be perfect? You've come to the right place. Here is the ultimate party planning checklist that makes planning (and partying) easier!
What Should You Do First?
Working with a party planning checklist and organizing an event timeline are two of the most important actions you can take to ensure everything goes smoothly. If you don't have any experience planning parties, you can still plan a wonderful get-together as long as you remain organized and prepare well in advance.
Our most important tip: don't stick your nose up at delegating tasks to friends, family or extra paid assistance. The truth is, as much as we'd like to, we can't do it all on our own, and we do need each other's help. Plus, waiting to do things at the last minute can get messy! You are not a martyr, but you are a generous and good host who knows what they can and can't handle. And the best part, you likely know someone who can handle whatever it is you need to be done.
Pick a Date
These days, everyone's calendars are packed with events and activities. So just because you're free on a date doesn't mean all of your close friends or family are available. To guarantee all of your beloved people can attend your party, send your invites out in advance! Whether that's via mail, text, call, email, or via online invitation service, get the date to the people you care about most!
Choose a Theme
If you're into themed parties, you should go for it. A theme will provide inspiration for every other item on your party checklist from your shopping list to your playlist. Here we've picked our favorite themes for this summer!
Figure Out Your Budget
Got lots of money to spend or none at all? Know what you are willing to spend going into the event and keep an evolving tab. Sadly, parties can be much more costly than you might think or expect. Set a budget and stick to it, especially before you go shopping!
Book a Party Venue, Entertainment Rentals, Vendors, and Staff (If You’re Fancy)
Oh, you fancy, huh? If your booking venues, entertainment like DJs and photo booths, or rentals like chairs, silverware, linens, and tables, make sure to get those things in place before it's too late. Event planners can be very helpful for larger events, depending on the type of party you want to throw.
Send Out Invites
If you're contemplating throwing a sizeable open house party, make sure your guest list is confined to the number of people you suppose can fit easily into your home. While we know for these types of parties, not everyone is there simultaneously; we always think it's better to be safe than sorry! Sending out an evite or creating a Facebook event can help you keep track of who's coming easier than sending a mass text.
When thinking of who to invite, be thoughtful. We all have friends from an assortment of various places. From our colleagues to the gym friends to parents in your kid's classes, you very likely have friends who don't overlap or share many similarities. One good rule to follow is assuring that everyone invited knows (and actually likes) two other guests. A good host wants to make sure nobody feels awkward and feels like they are in a room full of strangers.
For more formal events, party invitations should be sent out well in advance—and they're an opportunity to introduce your friends to your party's mood, dress code, and aesthetic. Don't forget to RSVP!
What Should I Do The Week Before?
Plan Games and Activities
If you are planning on keeping your guests thoroughly entertained, have your games and activities planned. Of course, keep in mind the number of people who can play or be a part of an activity at any given time, so there aren't some people awkwardly watching.
Place Prepared Food and Cake Orders
Order food before your party and plan your menu well in advance, from hors d'oeuvres to snacks to desserts. Sometimes, bakeries need cupcakes to be ordered weeks in advance for birthday parties, and you don't want your cocktail party to be snack-less because you forgot to plan recipes ahead of time.
Do as much as you possibly can before your party. And while doing so, keep in mind food that can handle being frozen or staying hot for long periods. Helpful hint: a slow cooker can be a game-changer for your soiree. Quiches and tarts are also great for freezing and soups and stews for staying hot!
If you know the meal or food you are planning needs you to cook on the day of the party, do all of the sous-chef work long before the party. Cut, gather, and measure, so when you pull out your ingredients, it'll be super simple and way less stressful because your prepping is already done. Doing so will also stop you from having to make an emergency trip to the grocery store three minutes before the party starts! If cooking isn't your thing, remember that you can always do a potluck, so all the food isn't up to you, or you could even enlist the help of a caterer.
An easy way to break the ice before the main meal is out is with finger foods. There are so many delicious appetizer ideas out there, and which ones you choose depends on your tastes and cooking skills. In our personal opinion, there is no party without some delicious pigs in a blanket. But that's just our two cents.
Of course, you may want to have a potluck brunch or a BBQ where the main event is the grilling. If your theme requires specific dishes (or takes the cooking pressure off of you), your planning may be easier than you thought!
And don't forget dessert! Whether you whip up something special or stick with the classic Christmas cookies, most people will want something sweet at the end of the night.
Decorations are an easy way to add a ton of excitement to your party. From streamers to balloons and banners, the world of decorations is limitless. Before buying your party decorations, make sure you create a creative vision so you can have a better idea of what look you're going for. Don't know where to start? Pinterest is always a good idea! DIY decorations can be super fun, as well, or you can buy centerpieces, party favors, and party supplies all in one place at your local party supply store.
What Do I Need to Do the Day Before?
Go Grocery Shopping
Have you ever been to a get-together, and after a few drinks, you find yourself indulging in more food than usual? That's called alcohol, friends. While sipping on cocktails at parties, we often find ourselves particularly snacky! Be ready for the tipsy grazers looking for more food long after the hot items have already been eaten! Keep nuts, crackers, dips, and cheese platters prepared to serve, and have a few for backups! Don't forget paper goods as well like toilet paper and napkins.
Pick Up Your Food
If you have purchased food from a caterer, don't forget to pick it up!
Start Decorating Your Event Space
Now that you have a vision and all of your supplies, you can easily start decorating. Bring in an extra set of eyes to make sure it's perfect!
What Do I Need to Do the Day-Of?
Something easily forgotten; make sure you have ice on hand! And while you're at it, make sure you have cups and enough place settings for everyone invited!
Finish Setting Up
When you are done decorating and setting up, it's time for the finishing touches. Music and lighting are two of the best and most important things to add to your party to change the atmosphere.
There are so many various cocktails to pick from, but don't get too stuck on making elaborate drinks for all of your party guests. Try having one signature cocktail, and then fill the rest with wine and beer.
Remind yourself that you decided to host this party because you knew it would be fun for your guests! It doesn't matter who you are or how many parties you've thrown, you can still get stressed, and sometimes, that stress clouds the fun! Don't lose the vision of what your goal is, and remember, you're just human!