Planning the perfect party isn’t always as easy as you might think. It can be a time-consuming activity, and it requires a lot of organisational ability, not to mention creativity. Whether you’re planning a small celebration with your friends and family, or whether you’re arranging a large affair for hundreds of people, ensuring you’ve taken the time to plan for every eventuality is vital. The key to getting it right is drawing up a checklist so you won’t miss anything out.
It’s never too early to start the preparations, so if you’re ready to begin planning a party checklist, we help you to get started with our expert party planning tips.
As Early As Possible
It pays to begin planning your party as early as possible – preferably several months before the event. You need to give your guests as much time as you can to arrange their schedules. If you spring a party on them at short notice, you run the risk of everyone being too busy to attend. With this in mind, here is our Advance Planning Checklist for you to follow.
- Time and date – The very first thing that you need to focus on when planning any type of party is the time and date that you want to choose. Whenever possible, make sure to schedule your party so it won’t clash with any holidays, festivals, celebrations or major events. If you plan a party on the same day as the World Cup Final, Easter Sunday or a Royal Wedding there’s a good chance that a significant number of your attendees will give their polite refusals.
- Location – Location goes hand in hand with the time and date of your party, especially if you’re planning on holding your celebration at an external venue. You’ll need to make sure that your chosen hotel, restaurant, pub or other location is free on the day you have in mind. You’ll also need to consider whether you’re going to be hosting the party at your own home or at someone else’s house, and whether you’ll be holding the event outdoors or indoors. If you’re planning an outdoor party, you should have a Plan B just in case the British weather lets you down.
- Theme – Will you be having a themed event? If you’re hosting a children’s birthday party this is something which you’ll almost certainly be considering. Themed kids’ parties are very popular these days for both boys and girls, and there are even unisex themes that suit all guests. For example, children might want to come dressed up to a princess themed party , or bring stuffed animals along to a jungle themed event – there are lots of unusual children’s party ideas to choose from. Even if you’re hosting an adult party, you might want to have a theme. For example, a retro theme for a wedding anniversary celebration or formal dress for a special milestone birthday.
- Menu – Will you be feeding your guests at your party, and if so, what will you be serving? Depending on the type of party you’re arranging, you might want to use the services provided by the venue that you’ve selected. This will take a lot of work out of the occasion, although it might add to the costs. If you’re catering for the attendees yourself, you’ll need to plan your menu and come up with a shopping list. Don’t forget to include guests with special dietary requirements such as gluten free or vegan.
- Team – Are you going to plan the party alone or are you going to get some help? If you’re planning a very big event you might want to consider hiring a professional party planner to help you at this stage to take all of the hard work out of the arrangements. Alternatively, you can keep your costs down and still minimise your workload if you delegate key tasks to friends and family members. If you have people who are willing to help you out, it’s time to get your team together and decide who will be responsible for every element of the planning. You can then share the responsibility of planning a party checklist.
- Budget – Don’t wait too long before settling on the budget for your event. You don’t want to start arranging entertainment and food before you’ve decided how much you can afford to spend on the occasion. Take a realistic look at your costs, from hiring a venue to paying entertainers and catering and then set your budget and stick to it.
One Month To Go
If you’ve started your planning at an early stage, you should have plenty of time to get your ideas together. That means by the time you have a month left to go before the big day you’ll have all of the basics in place. It’s now time to look a little more closely at specifics.
- Programme – It’s time to look in detail at the outline of events for the day of the party itself. You’ll want to ensure there’s sufficient time for all the key elements of the occasion. For example, a children’s party might include classic party games while a wedding reception will need to include time for speeches and cake cutting and an adult party might require a live band or a DJ.
- Equipment – Once you know the type of entertainment you’re going to have at your party, you’ll have a better idea of the type of equipment you’ll need. If you’re hiring entertainers, you’ll need to check whether they’ll be bringing equipment of their own. You’ll also need to check with your chosen venue whether they have any equipment for you to use. If you need to supply equipment like projectors, loudspeakers and microphones yourself you’ll need to arrange this now. If you’re hosting a party with games, you’ll want to make sure you have all the prizes and accessories that you’ll need. If you’re hosting a children’s party, you’ll need to make sure you have party necessities like bags and fillers for every guest. You can take all of the hard work out of this by ordering pre-filled party bags online .
- Suppliers – If you haven’t already shortlisted suppliers, now is the time to do it. Start contacting caterers, balloon suppliers, entertainers, florists etc and finalise your arrangements.
- Invitations – Sending out the invitations to your guests should be done at least a month before your party, and even further in advance depending on the nature of the celebration. Wedding reception invitations, for example, usually go out several months before to ensure maximum attendance. If you’re setting on an event page on social media you can link your invitations to that page so people can register their interest online. Don’t forget to include all the key information about the party – it’s time, location and theme.
A Fortnight Before
We’re getting close to the big party day so now it’s time to check through some of the basic details to make sure that they’re all in place so there won’t be a last minute panic.
- Check with your vendors and suppliers – Make sure that everything is on track with all your suppliers and vendors so that nothing will be left out. You don’t want to get to the day of the party and then realise that the birthday cake supplier has the wrong date!
- Buy any missing items – Go back through your supplies list and ensure that anything that you’ve taken responsibility for buying yourself has been purchased. Anything that is missing should be bought now, whether that be tablecloths, cutlery or decorations.
- Logistics – It’s time to consider your venue’s physical layout. Will there be a seating plan? Where are your guests going to park? Is there space for the caterers? Where will the band set up and dancing take place? Will there be somewhere for guests to leave bags and coats? Now is the time to set up all of these things.
A Week Before
We’re getting very close to the party now, and all of the major elements should be in place. Now is the time to go through last minute details to ensure that everything runs smoothly once the day comes around.
- Playlist – Are you arranging the music yourself? If so, it’s time to come up with a party playlist that suits your guests and the tone and theme of the celebration. You might want to consider including a broad spectrum of musical choices to suit all kinds of attendees if you’re hosting a multi-generational event. Grandma and Grandad won’t want to listen to hip-hop all night, but it’s unlike that the teenage invitees will be too pleased about dancing to big band classics either!
- Confirmations – If any of your guests haven’t yet confirmed their attendance it’s time to chase them up. Call, text, message or email anyone who hasn’t yet sent their RSVP and find out whether they’ll be coming or not. It’s also a good time to send out a reminder to everyone who has confirmed their attendance just to keep it fresh in their minds – you don’t want them to forget!
- Health and Safety – If you’re hosting your party at home, it’s time to take a quick look at your environment and do a quick risk assessment. In the unlikely event of an emergency, do you have a plan in place? Do you have safety equipment like a fire extinguisher if you’re hosting a barbecue? If you’re having your party in an external venue, you should just check with them that they’ve had all necessary inspections performed and that there is a clear escape plan in the event of a fire or emergency.
One Day To Go
Now all of the planning has been done and it’s time to put all of your hard work into practice. The day before your party, it’s time to stop thinking and start doing.
- Prepare your venue – If you’re hosting the party at home it’s time to arrange your furniture and clear any spaces that you’re planning to use for party games or dancing. Put up the balloons and decorations and make sure that the table is set and ready to go. If you’re holding your party in another venue, make sure they have everything organised and ready to be set up.
- Buy perishable items – Check your party shopping list and see what you have left to buy. Perishable items like ice and fruit should be purchased now.
- Dry run – If possible, go through a dry run of your day either with your friends and helpers or with your suppliers and venue. This will ensure that you’re well organised and that everyone involved knows what they’ll be doing the next day.
The Day Of The Party
After all the stress of planning, all of the work is almost done and it’s time to enjoy the day itself.
- Final setup – If you haven’t already set up the tables and other last minute things, it’s time to get them in place before your guests arrive.
- Catering – If you’ve hired caterers make sure that they’ve arrived on time and know where to find all the equipment and items they need to prepare and serve the food. If you’re catering yourself, make sure that everything is ready to serve up.
- Greeting – Greet your guests, make sure they’re comfortable, take their coats and ensure they have everything they need to have a wonderful time.
- Photos and video – Make sure that you take lots of photos and videos of the party so you can preserve the happy memories and share them with your guests after the event.
- Enjoy – Parties are all about having a great time, and you’ve put a lot of hard work into arranging this one. Now that the day has finally arrived, it’s time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Hopefully, this planning a party checklist will have made the job a lot easier and more straightforward than you imagined! Enjoy your day!