Where do you even begin when planning for an upcoming event? Not everyone hones in on party planning skills. If this is you, we can relate. Each new event from baby showers to birthdays takes a different kind of finesse. But at the end of each event, your main goal is to make them memorable.
From a young age, we begin attending celebrations. Usually, it starts with birthday parties and later in life moves to weddings and baby showers. Every party has a WOW factor and there are simple ways to create the vibe you are going for to fit your event.
Planning a party might seem a bit daunting, but we are here to help! This guide should help save you time and will cover a step-by-step guide and tips to make this a seemingly easy task!
If you’re not sure where to start with party planning, our ultimate guide will help you from beginning to end.
Where to Start?
Download our detailed checklist below! Depending on where you are at in the planning stages and how far out your party is, you can either start from the beginning or jump right into the day or week you need!
There will also be items that might not apply to your event, so feel free to skip around.
We would also like to note that this checklist is more aligned with birthdays, bachelorette parties, baby showers, and other events that don’t need extensive planning. If you are planning a wedding or a more extravagant event, our checklist may give you some great ideas or tips, however, you will need to extend the timeline.
Whether you are planning a party for the first time or the fifth time, no two parties are alike and it can get stressful. Our first piece of advice is to make a plan and work out that plan. Having a checklist will alleviate a lot of your stress when you have a plan!
We would also advise that you ask for help. You may be very capable of planning the entire party, but if you have friends or family that is willing to help, let them!
For inspiration, check Pinterest, Instagram, or other social media platforms. This will help spark ideas and don’t be afraid to reach out to those creators to ask for advice.
At the end of the day, there will be people that will have an opinion. Don’t let those opinions deter you or get you down. If it’s your party or one that you have been designated to plan, Take it by the reins and own that party!
Step-by-Step Guide to
Plan a Party
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s jump into our step-by-step guide to planning your party!
1. One Month Out
To start, we first need to decide on a date and time. This can be done prior to the one-month-out mark, however, we need an idea of the time we are working with. If you are planning a baby shower or bachelorette party for a friend, that person of honor will have a date in mind. If it’s a birthday, well, if you can’t have the party on the day of, then you can schedule it for the weekend before or after.
Once you have the scheduled date and time, the next order of business would be to reserve your venue, if necessary. Most restaurants require that you make a reservation for parties of more than eight and depending on how big your group is, you might have a minimum spend.
This brings us to the next item… budget. If you do decide to rent out a space or make a reservation that has a minimum spend, then you will want to decide on your budget amount prior to reserving. However, if you are having a birthday party at a park or at your house, you can plan out how much you are willing to spend now.
Once you have your budget amount, you will be able to allocate funds in order of how you want to prioritize. Of course, one of the top items on our list is party supplies!
Next up, choose your theme. Again, if you are planning this party for someone else, your friend or child may already have a theme in mind. Easy peasy. However, if you are the decision holder, now is your time to shine! You can choose from a new and trendy theme or go with a classic theme. Go with one that you will be excited to plan and can envision!
Now you want to create a guest list. If you’ve already reserved space, you know how many people it can accommodate. And you may have based your venue on the guest list count already. However, if you haven’t, now is the time to gather those details and send out invites! You want everyone to get it on their calendar!
After all of the above has been determined, if you have it in your budget, you need to decide what hired services you will add to your party. Depending on your party size, this will make your life (hopefully) a lot easier! Think about a bartender, a DJ, or a food truck, all great options to relieve some stress in the planning process!
Depending on the party you are hosting, decide if you want to have any games or activities. With a child's birthday, more than likely your event is planned around the activities. With a baby shower, maybe you want to have an easy activity for all to partake in.
2. Three Weeks Out
While you were planning details in the first stage, you may have already purchased some items that we have listed here or already planned. If so, skip over those items, however, it may help you brainstorm other details you may want to add to your party!
Now is the time to purchase party decorations, supplies, favors, etc. Not sure what colors go best together? Check out our blog here to find your perfect match!
If this is a party for yourself, you definitely want to look snatch. So, find that perfect outfit and order! Make sure you leave yourself enough room to make any alterations as needed.
The cake is the main showcase at a lot of events. Find cake designs on Pinterest or Instagram and provide them to your local bakery and have your cake ordered with all of the pertinent details.
If not already done, now would also be the time to secure table and chair rentals, if necessary. Most rental companies offer other items to rent, such as tableware and other decorations that could be added on at this time too. Remember to stick to the budget you set.
And for an extra touch, if you decide not to hire out a DJ service, create your own music playlist. Use a free or paid app and create your own music list, or send it to those you trust to add some fun tunes to coordinate with your themed party!
3. Two Weeks Out
Now that we are two weeks out, the majority of your planning (especially the details) should already be situated. However, if anything was missed, those should be at the top of your list!
Other items on your list this week should be to confirm the headcount in the event you need to make any adjustments with your venue or rental services.
If no changes need to be made, now would also be the time to confirm your reservations with the venue, vendors, and other services you have booked. And again, if changes do need to be altered, now is the time.
If you are hosting at home or at a park and not hiring any vendors, make your shopping and grocery list for all of your needed items. Your headcount will help with the number of items or food that you will need.
Quick Tip: If you are unsure even after you have your headcount, this blog will help give you a better number of how to determine how much food you need.
4. Week Of Party
Hopefully, you have all of your ducks in a row that the week of the party is nothing to sweat!
This week we are going to purchase the groceries and any other last-minute items for the party, such as batteries, candles, lighter, etc. Make any DIY items you have planned for decor or party favors. Clean your house/yard, if you are hosting at home.
Pick up any rental items, if they are not being delivered. This would also be the time to set up as much as you can to prevent a day of stress.
Quick Tip: For balloon decorations, you can blow up one to three days ahead of your event (just keep out of the heat and direct sunlight!).
5. Day Of Party
Finally! The day you have been waiting for. Although you can’t sit back and relax, you can be at ease, whatever will be, will be!
To finish the setup of your party, coordinate with any vendors you have hired to assist in setup and payment. This will alleviate you from forgetting or not being available to the vendors after the party.
Pick up food or baked items that you have ordered in advance. Keep warm or cold until ready to serve!
Finish with all of the fun details! Play that funky music, set up your tables and decorations, and put the drinks on ice.
Quick Tip: A notes checklist on your phone will be perfect to have so you can check off each item that you might miss on the day of. With vendors, guests, and who knows what else may be thrown your way, if you have a prepared list, that will limit the opportunity for mistakes that you find crucial.
Now that your event has begun, if you haven’t hired a photographer, remember to either take photos and video or delegate to a guest or guests!
Lastly, enjoy the fruits of your labor!
6. After The Party
Did you survive? We not only hope you survived, but we hope you thrived in creating and designing your party!
Now what? Before you let too much time go by, remember to share your gratitude and the memories from your event! We suggest sharing personal photos & videos through a shared album, which all can contribute towards and enjoy. Other options would include email, text, or through an online service such as Dropbox.
If you happen to use professional services for photography and video, usually those professionals will have a link to an online portal that you can share with guests.
Don’t forget about the thank you cards! Your guests showed up and possibly brought gifts, show your gratitude with a simple note. Everyone will appreciate the gesture and it will bring back memories.
We hope this ultimate party planning checklist serves as a great guide in making your next party a success and has helped answer your questions!!
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