We are in the midst of planning a Fresh and Easy holiday party and as I sit here planning and organizing, I figured…why not share what I learned with you?
I have gone through all the steps in the party planning process to help you plan an amazing party day! If you want, you can print this party planning checklist as well.
Establish a Budget
When planning a party, the most important thing is to know your budget. Party planning costs add up very quickly and you want to ensure you stay within your budget so you can still enjoy the wonderful event when it arrives.
Creating your Guest List
After you identify your budget, you can then think about how many people you want to invite. When inviting people to a party, a good rule of thumb is to account for about 20-25% of your invite list not being able to come; they may also have to cancel last minute. When you create your guest list, be sure to think about how many people know each other. Try to make sure each guest knows at least one person to allow for easy communication and socializing by everyone that is invited.
And do the same for children, too!
Determine your party venue
Now is the time to think about where you want to have your party. Do you want the mess in your home or do you want to rent a space? You can rent some beautiful locations for under $300; while it may seem like a lot, it may be worth it for you to not have your house messy…or trashed. 🙂
Determine the date and time for your party
Daytime, evening or somewhere in the middle…they can all work.
If you are planning a children’s party, consider nap and snack times.
If you are planning an adult’s only party, make sure you give advanced notice so people can find a sitter.
When you plan the time of your party, be sure you account for delivery and pick up of any items you may rent.
Send out your invitations
While some people still like paper invitations, you can greatly reduce the overall budget by using evite.com or our new favorite paperlesspost.com. Paperless Post gives a completely different feel through their invitations and online viewing so we prefer that for adult events like the holiday party we are hosting next week.
Plan the menu
And consider your budget while doing it…
think about appetizers, the main dish, dessert, finger foods, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Make sure you consider food allergies and food preferences like vegetarian or low-carb meals.
Plan how food will be served
Go through the menu and account for how each dish will be displayed on the table and served to guests. Think about if people will change utensils, plates or cups. It may help to map out where items will be placed on tables as well for serving.
Plan out the flow of the party
Plan out the general timelines of arrival, any party events, appetizers, the main course, and dessert. This will help you see if there are pockets of time that need to be filled with a planned activity. This is especially important for children. Consider games, crafts, assembling a food item like a pizza or cookie, or a themed activity that ties into your party.
Planning this out will also help you see if you need extra tables, chairs, or supplies for your party.
Call for any party supply rentals
Map out your party before doing this so you know how many people can sit at each table and how many tables you will need for food, gifts, and activities. Party supplies you may need include: tables, chairs, linens, utensils, serving pieces, popcorn machines, coolers, ice buckets, alcohol bar, cloth napkins, outdoor heaters, centerpieces, and decorations.
Purchase party supplies
You can make and purchase many supplies to save money. Pinterest is a great resource and my go-to for planning events. When you finalize your shopping list, don’t forget party favors!
Cook and/or order food for the party
Make a list of all of the food items you need for your party and back-plan when you can make them. If items can be frozen, make those ahead of time to help ease your workload closer to the party. This is a great time to invite your friends over to cook, bake and have a nice afternoon together as well.
Set up your party
Allow an hour to set up your party and in many cases 90 minutes is better to allow room for things that do not go as planned. I like to allow myself to have 10-15 minutes before everyone arrives to sit down and reflect on how beautiful everything looks…after all, hosting a great party is fun but also a lot of work.
Now have fun and enjoy the big day!