It’s easy to say you’ll throw a party, but when you finally get down to it, things can get very overwhelming. The best advice for party planning is to prepare well in advance and be organized. These steps may help you for your next event:
STEP 1: Pick a date and time
When you’re deciding on a date and time, keep in mind your guests. Should it be during the week or on the weekend? Will there be kids or adults?
STEP 2: Guest list
Don’t rely on memory for your guest list. Write down every person you plan on inviting (including yourself). This will allow you to keep a tentative number of people you need to feed, seat, and entertain.
STEP 3: Find a place
Capacity: Many venues will tell you the maximum capacity, but keep in mind the amount of material (tables, chairs, decorations, etc.) that will also be filling the room. You want to give your guests plenty of space. Trust me, I’ve made this mistake!
Indoor/Outdoor: Outside events can be very beautiful, but don’t forget about weather. There is ALWAYS a possibility of rain, so be prepared with a plan B.
Heat: Being from Las Vegas, I know about the heat. Some foods spoil easily, cake frostings melt, and bugs will bother. So, plan for these issues by having the party during the coolest part of the day, keeping the food on ice, and have lots of citronella candles.
STEP 4: Decide on a theme
This is my favorite part of planning a party! There are ideas everywhere. Your theme will ultimately be the foundation of your decorations. Take your time on deciding. Here are some really great links to get ideas for your party:
Oriental Trading: http://www.orientaltrading.com/
STEP 5: BUDGET! BUDGET! BUDGET!
If you don’t set a budget, you may end up spending way more money than you would have expected. Set a limit on each party element: decorations, food, venue, entertainment, etc. Here are a few budget files that may help:
Online budget calculator: http://www.partypop.com/budget-calculator
STEP 6: Invitations
Once you have completed the previous steps, you can begin making invitations.
Include: Who the party is for, the date of the event, the time, place, and a way to RSVP. You can list a phone number, email address, or provide a stamped and addressed RSVP card.
When to mail: Mail your invitations at least three weeks in advance. Allow more time if your guests will have to travel for the event. If you don’t want to hand craft your invitations, here are some great places to check out:
STEP 7: Decorations and entertainment
Once you’ve decided on a theme and a budget, you can start buying decorations and planning how to set up the venue. I find it helpful to make a quick outline of the space and fill it in with bubble diagram. This will give you a visual of how the room will flow. Then decide on what kind of entertainment you would like to have – music, games, etc.
STEP 8: Food, tables, and chairs
Food – catered, homemade, or potluck: If you decide to go homemade, make sure you factor the cost of food into your budget. If you go with a potluck, make sure you add this to your invitation.
Tables and chairs: Some venues will provide these with the rental of the space. Depending on the event and theme, you may also need to get linens (tablecloths and/or chair coverings). In some cases, you may just want simple paper or plastic table coverings. In other cases, a more elegant event may need cloth linens. Be aware, sometimes it’s cheaper to just buy the linens rather than rent:
Tablecloths factory: http://www.tableclothsfactory.com/
Linen tablecloth: http://www.linentablecloth.com/
STEP 9: Have a calendar and notebook
This is one of the best ways to stay organized. Write all over your calendar with dates and deadlines that you want to keep. A notebook is helpful to keep a guest list, complete menu, list of decorations, games, prizes, etc. It’s a way to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
STEP 10: Have FUN!
Finally, just have fun! Planning a party can be very stressful, but with careful planning and organization, it can be just as you pictured!