If you’ve hosted a get together before, you’ll probably agree that it can be a big job. From snagging the balloons to choosing a cake, the average party requires 10 hours of work from the host. Some of these tasks include shopping, cleaning, decorating and (what most hosts forget) following a checklist.
Party planning for some involves aimlessly traveling up and down the aisles of the local convenience store. Although we wish party inspiration could magically arrive at our fingertips, there isn’t a secret to throwing a successful birthday or celebration. Instead, we found that being prepared and learning from those who have hosted before is a step in the right direction.
Conveniently for you, we’ve organized planning tips and tricks into a party planning checklist with the necessary steps for throwing an awesome gathering. This checklist allows any host to kick back and relax when the date arrives. Yes, the host (we’re looking at you!) is allowed to enjoy their own party! Get away from the stress of hosting and use our party checklist below.
How Do You Plan a Successful Party?
The short answer is planning. Collecting your thoughts on paper is an effective way to organize your vision. We recommend mind mapping to fire up the process. Begin writing down the theme, food or decorations you desire. From there, map out arrows to other party elements that spring to mind. Run your stream of consciousness dry until you are ready to reflect your mind map with our ultimate party planning checklist — to confirm you didn’t miss a step.
Ultimate Party Planning Checklist
Before you declare your ideas useless and woefully pick up the phone to hire a professional planner, cut yourself some slack! Every host or hostess goes through the same exhausting process, so hold yourself together (think about the gifts you’ll receive!). Take a deep breath and let us untangle your thoughts. Read through our list of celebration necessities to ease your mind.
Two Months Before the Party:
1. Pick a Time
Setting a time limit during the early planning stages helps develop the direction of the party. If your party will be earlier in the day, arrange for a brunch social — if later in the day, throw a cocktail party or dinner. Plus, setting a start and end time can help you find a location that will accommodate your event.
Professional Party Tip: Do not skip setting an end time because then guests won’t feel obligated to come when the party begins.
2. Pick a Location
The location of your party should support the purpose of the event. For example, a bright area with a view is perfect for a luncheon, but don’t feel like you need to avoid throwing the party at your own home! It may seem daunting, but you’ll save money and create a more intimate atmosphere.
Professional Party Tip: For events held outside of your home, look at written reviews of venues you’re considering.
One Month Before the Party
3. Choose a Theme
Bookmarking will become part of your daily routine. If you haven’t chosen a theme yet, we recommend creating separate folders for each theme idea. Once you have full folders of inspiration, select the theme that fits your style and is most feasible.
Professional Party Tip: Choose themes that are easy to participate in.
For example, throwing a country-themed party only requires guests to wear a flannel.
4. Create a Guest List
Who are the lucky people you’ll be welcoming to your event? Keep in mind the location of your party and create a guest list. We suggest one guest per five square feet for a balance of intimacy and optimal breathing room.
Professional Party Tip: Our last word of warning: don’t invite fighting aunts from opposite sides of the family, just pick one.
5. Send Out the Invites
Go digital and save some paper. This allows guests to quickly ask questions or post directly to the event page. You’ll easily be able to visualize the guest list to know how much food to order, how much entertainment to set up, and party favors to create.
Professional Party Tip: Mention an RSVP-by date to prevent you from needing to harass people to respond.
6. Add Entertainment
When we say entertainment, this can range from creating an awesome playlist to hiring a magician! Even putting on a movie in the background counts. This helps take the pressure off you to always be entertaining during the event.
Professional Party Tip: A few ideas to get you brainstorming are creating a dance floor, craft station, DIY cocktail bar, karaoke stage, or a photo booth.
7. Set Up Catering or Plan What To Cook
Whether you’re cooking or catering, always plan to have more than enough! A major party foul is letting your guests go hungry, especially if there are drinks being served. Stay on the safe side and order extra — no one complains about leftovers. Stay conscious of guests with special dietary needs as well.
Professional Party Tip: Head to wholesale markets for large bags of chips, popcorn and pretzels to fill up your guests.
Two to Three Weeks Before the Party:
8. Decorate According to the Theme
Set the ambiance of the party by dressing up the walls with backdrops, setting the mood with lighting, bringing plants and flowers indoors, and adding signs or balloons to indicate that fun festivities are occurring.
Professional Party Tip: Streamers are affordable and add lively texture to the walls.
9. Decide Which Games to Play With Your Guests
There are three important factors to consider when planning the games to play. First, consider the group size. Keep in mind that larger parties will have a hard time gathering around a table to play a game, so save the card and board games for smaller groups. The second factor is the age group. Double-check that your chosen games are appropriate for every age at the party. Lastly, if possible, tie the game to the theme. What would a football party be without cornhole?
Professional Party Tip: Pick games that easily allow players to join in and leave as they choose since most people bounce around a party.
10. Plan Memorable Party Favors
A good party favor is one that incorporates your theme and that people will enjoy. For example, if you’re throwing your dog a birthday, send home the other pups with dog tag keychains they’ll cherish forever.
Professional Party Tip: Crafts make for great entertainment and party favors that guests can bring home.
11. Call a Co-Host if Needed
Party pressure is a real problem you’ll experience. If the stress is taking a toll, don’t be afraid to call in backup. Your friends are more than happy to assist you in constructing the party, especially if it means extra dessert as a reward.
Professional Party Tip: Call people older than you, even your parents.
They have more life experience in throwing celebrations.
How Do I Prepare My House for a Party?
A party in your humble abode is recognizably special. Your guests will treasure your hosting efforts for a long time to come. Follow our six steps below to throw a lovely get together you won’t forget (or regret!).
A Few Days Before the Party:
1. Indicate Which Rooms the Party Will Take Place In
You won’t offend your guests if you hang up a few streamers to block off certain rooms. Keeping lights off and doors shut are subtle indicators to only stay in certain parts of the house.
2. Prime the Entryway
It’s the first impression that lasts forever, so make it count! In this case, the first impression is your outside entryway — which undoubtedly sets the tone of the party. You don’t want your guests arriving unsure if it’s your house holding the celebration. Make it clear and loud your home is about to throw the best festivity of the year!
The Day of the Party:
3. Clean the Mirrors and Windows
An easy way to make your celebration shine bright like a diamond is to clean mirrors and windows. You’ll see what we mean once you wipe these items down.
4. Prep a Bathroom for Guests to Use
As we mentioned earlier, you deserve to enjoy the party instead of managing little details, so be sure the bathroom is ready for guests. Once you designate a bathroom, hang up a bathroom sign for guidance. Be sure to set out plenty of towels, toilet paper and other amenities your visitors will appreciate, such as mouthwash or floss.
5. Provide Plenty of Trash Cans
Unless you prefer leftover pizza on the floor, provide plenty of trash cans! Doing so will also relieve you of taking out the piling trash multiple times during the party. An extra bin or two will suffice.
An Hour Before the Party:
6. Light Candles or Add a Diffuser
When a crowd gathers, unusual smells usually follow. We highly recommend grabbing a few candles or diffusers to avoid unwanted party labels, such as “the stinky soiree.” A good-smelling get-together is a happy get-together.
We hope you’re feeling less reluctant to join the hosting club. Believe us when we say to enjoy the gathering yourself — there’s no reason why you shouldn’t! If you follow our party planning checklist, you’ll be dancing the night away with guests instead of running to the store for forgotten items. In the spirit of hosting, “Some only dream of cake. Others bake it happen.”
Now that you know the lengths a planner goes to for a party, gift the next host a beautiful bouquet to reward their stunning efforts.