Going through your monthly-planner, you see a large red circle around a particular date one month away — the party you volunteered to host. Once your breath begins to regulate, you realize that you still have time to put together the perfect party. Being creative is important, but the most essential element for the planning stages is being organized.
How long a party will take you to plan is dependent on the number of people attending and the complexity of the event. A small dinner party of four girlfriends might only take you days to plan, whereas an engagement party will take about a month. Another factor is where you’re holding the event. If it takes place outside of the home planning should start earlier so you can reserve the room or event space you need.
Listed below is a comprehensive party planning checklist that will have your soiree running like clockwork and your hosting skills applauded.
One Month To Party
- Choose a Theme. Not every party needs a theme, however it can make the party more fun and the planning easier. Also decide if you want a formal event or a more casual one.
- Generate a Budget. This will act as your lifeline for the party and will also dictate where the party is held and how many people are invited.
- Create a Guest List. Depending on the event and its size, invite all your favourite people. If it’s an event in honour of someone else, get an address book from that person or from his or her friends and family.
- Deliver Invitations. Once the guest list has been confirmed, choose a great invitation style such as an e-vite, phone call or the classic card and send it off. Make sure you outline an RSVP date so you can move forward with planning.
- Select a Menu. Arguably the most important aspect of the party, you first have to decide whether you want to have a sit-down dinner or buffet, hors d’oeuvres or snack foods. The second element is whether you will be making the food yourself or hiring a caterer. This will probably depend on budget. Lastly, decide on the specific foods you’re going to serve. If you have a theme, try to make the food fit that theme.
Two Weeks to Party
- Take Inventory. Check out your selection of tableware, cutlery, linens, tables and chairs. If you think you may not have enough for the size of your party, there are party rental companies to accommodate you.
- Place Special Orders. If there is anything that needs to be specially ordered for your event including, floral arrangements, specialty foods or decorations make sure you do this now.
- Book Entertainment, Catering and Party Rentals. Most places are able to assist you, but the more time that is given to them the better. This ensures that you will get your first choices.
- Non-Perishable Shopping can be Started. Anything including food that won’t spoil by the party date can safely be purchased at this time, including napkins, beverages and maybe a new dress for yourself.
One Week to Party
- Liaise with Vendors. If you have opted to use party rentals, have your dinner catered or have hired entertainment, this would be a good time to finalize any issues, discuss payment and confirm delivery times.
- Manage your RSVPs. By this time you should have absolutely received the official count for your party. You could also make a few calls to those who haven’t responded at all.
- Create a Layout for the Event. Create a seating arrangement, if necessary and organize the logistics of the party. Things such as where to place shoes and coats and designating food prep areas is essential.
- Grocery and Last Minute Shopping is a Definite Must. Even if you’re having the event catered, it’s always better to have some essentials such as milk, eggs, butter, bread and snacks available just in case. Also grab some last-minute items as they come up and stock up on toilet paper!
- Decide on Music. It’s a small element that can make a huge impact on the event. Whether it’s old-fashioned Christmas carols or smooth jazz, the music will help facilitate the right mood.
Day Before Party
- Get Cleaning. Take this day to clean your house from top to bottom. If you want to cheat a little, only clean the rooms your guests will be seeing. Make room in your refrigerator and freezer and clear out any unneeded items from your kitchen.
- Start Decorating. Do as much as possible the day before the party, even if that means ducking under streamers for the evening. It will be one less thing to do on the actual party date.
- Solicit Help from friends or family. You know that you won’t be able to do everything on your own, so gather up some helpful troops who will help with party elements.
- Pre-Party Food Prep. Place those bottles of white wine, pop and water in the refrigerator so they will be nice and cool for your guests when they arrive. Also cook or bake any foods that can be left out or refrigerated overnight or create mixtures for easy use on the day of.
- Get friendly with your Apron, especially if you’re going to be doing all the main cooking for the party. Have a list ready of all the items being served and prepare them in order of what doesn’t need to be served hot to food that does.
- Set the table. Whether it’s a formal sit down dinner or just buffet, those areas need to have special attention because people will expect dishes, glasses, cutlery and napkins available. This is also a great time to put out floral arrangements and candles.
- Organize Chairs and Tables. For larger parties, you have to add chairs and side tables to your space in order to give your guests for a nice place to sit and chat.
- Delivery Schedule Should be On Hand. If you have opted to have the event catered or hired party rentals, make sure you have a list of times for delivery so you can be ready for any rings at your doorbell.
- Get Serving Dishes and Snacks Ready. Toss your salad, place chips and dip into bowls and begin to lay out the food on the dining table and areas where you guests will be.
- Have fun and relax. There is no better way to celebrate a special occasion than with family and friends around. Don’t stress and everything will run smoothly.