The ultimate guide to planning a party
Your party planning checklist
1. What kind of event are you planning?
There are many types of parties and events ranging from birthday parties, community block parties, celebrations, and corporate functions. What’s the celebration for and how big do you want to go?
2. When will the event happen?
Plan your event on a date most of your invitees would be able to come. Check the local calendar for larger events that may draw away your intended guests. These events include weddings, birthdays, large sporting events, and major holidays. Corporate functions can often happen during the work week, making it easier for the best attendance. Everyone wants to make sure they are there to impress the boss!
3. Make a guest list
If you are planning a private party, you’re going to want to determine who you are inviting. If this is a child’s birthday, determine who is coming from your kid’s class. Corporate events are easy to determine - everyone is invited, including a spouse. For other parties, create a guest list of who is invited. You’re off to a great start already!
4. Line up some volunteers to help
Start with your close friends who are organized and can take some of the jobs off your list. These include finding decorations, grocery shopping, creating the Facebook event, etc.
5. Line up the party entertainment!
Turn a simple party into an event by hiring some entertainment. Birthday parties are a great place to make your entertainment shine. Who doesn’t like a party with up close entertainment?
6. Send the invitations
No needs to purchase and mail out invitations. Creating a private Facebook Event is usually very effective and free. If not all your guests are on social media, use an alternative online event invitation website. You may also mail out invites if your crew isn’t online, or do a combination.
7. Get party decorations!
What if your event theme? Every party has to have some decorations to create a festive atmosphere. There are many local places to buy discounted party decorations and some of your friends may already have some you can use.
8. Make a shopping list for food and drink
You’ll want to get plenty of supplies to feed and water your guests. You can make your party BYOB, which will cut down on the cost to you, but make sure you always supply non-alcoholic options for your party, that may include water, tea, lemonade or other season-appropriate options.
For the food, determine your theme and make your menu. The grub doesn’t have to be fancy. Try visiting the bulk discount stores for large party trays or supermarkets. You can order chicken fingers, wings, or put together chips and dip. If appropriate for the event, organize a potluck meal and have your guests bring food items.
Be sure to check with your guests about any food allergies so you have the appropriate alternative options (nuts, gluten, etc.).
Determine when food will need to be prepared prior to the event to help your day schedule to make sure everything is ready when the event starts.
9. Reorganize the party space and stock up
How will your event space look? If having a party at your home, rearrange your space to make it great for walking around and sitting, with space for small groups to congregate and talk while eating. Have plenty of places to set a drink and small plate as well.
Do you need extra tables and chairs? Setup any rentals you may need or borrow supplies from friends. Make sure the space is setup before your guests arrive.
Make sure to have extra trash cans available and readily accessible. Stock the bathroom with a few more easy-to-access supplies (TP, hand soap, towels, and air freshener). Also have cleaning supplies ready for after the party.
10. Notify the neighbors
If your event will be at night or large enough to affect parking, notify your neighbors of your intentions. You may need to ask for permission to use some of their space for parking if appropriate.
11. Create your party music playlist
Spotify and Apple Music make this easy. Pick a theme and play (but make sure you don’t use a free account if you don’t want your invitees to listen to ads).
Other party necessities:
- Ice, ice bucket, and ice scoop
- Paper towels
- Forks, Knives, Spoons
- Glasses for wine, cold drinks, and hot drinks
- Garbage bags
- Bottle openers (wine and beer)
- A place for drinks to cool (it typically takes 20 minutes for sodas to cool on ice)
- A space for coats in cold weather
Make notes for after the party
Congratulations on your event! Before packing up the tables and calling it a night, take a few minutes to assess how the day went.
- How well did your marketing do?
- How did your party team do and what would you change?
- What was your attendee feedback like?
- How did you do compared to how you thought it would go?
So you’ll have great ideas for the next party you plan, take good notes of what worked and what didn’t work. How much food was left over and what was more popular with your guests. You’ll make great improvements for the next time you throw an event or plan a party for any occasion.