Easy Party Planning Tips
Contributed by: Jan K.
Planning a party can be easy! Even complicated theme parties or
surprise parties can be very manageable as long as you create a
Party Plan List that has a pre-party time line of things to be done,
things to buy, things to rent or borrow, people to contact, grocery
shopping, and food that's to be prepared, catered, or brought in by
Start Your Party Plan List Early!
No matter what type of party you are planning, from the simplest
Saturday night get-together, to an all-day or all-night theme party,
you are going to need a basic list of things that will need to be
done prior to the day of the party---and right up until just minutes
before the party!
As soon as you've set the date for your party, start making your
list. It can be a real piece of paper that you write on, or it can
be a computer Word document. You can use the free printable Party
Plan List that accompanies this article (change the column headings
to suit your party needs), or you can make one of your own.
Jot down the first few things that come to mind as they apply to
your party: invite guests, plan the menu, decide on party games, and
make a shopping list. If your party is going to be more involved,
like a theme party or a surprise party, then your initial Party Plan
List might include a few more things like decorations to buy or
make, music, outdoor seating or lighting, and invitations that need
to be emailed, snail-mailed, or hand-delivered.
Your Party Plan List can be as short or as long as it needs to be,
and can include lots of details or just cover the basics. The whole
idea is to have one central place where you can make notes for
yourself and create reminders about what will need to be done, and
when. For very detailed parties or elaborate celebrations, you might
want to seriously consider buying a small notepad that you can keep
with you wherever you are so that you can make notes for yourself as
soon as you think of them.
Arrange for a Party Helper!
If your party is going to be a little more involved than just having
a few friends over for drinks and conversation or a simple family-
only birthday party, you should consider asking a close friend or
relative to be your Party Helper. No matter how prepared you think
you are going to be, as the party day gets closer, you are likely to
feel as though that things are "out of control" and that you're
running around in circles and not accomplishing anything. A Party
Helper can keep you "sane" during those last few wild days before
the party, even if only to remind you that everything really is
going according to plan!
Ask your Party Helper to be available the day before the party or
the day of the party to help you with all the last minute things
that are going to come up. Don't be bashful about asking for help---
but do remember that you might be asked to repay the favor someday!
Share the Party Plan List with your Party Helper, and make a special
point to go over everything with him or her.
Work the List!
Now that you have a Party Plan List, you might want to review it on
a regular basis. As things begin to get done, check off things that
no longer need your attention, or mark done what you've done so far
for any one thing on the list.
Once you have the basic list done, review each item on the list.
Make your time line of what things need to be done and when. You can
either color-code things (that is, everything that needs to be done
on Monday before the party you can mark in blue), or you can number
the list (that is, the thing that can be done now gets marked 1 and
the thing that can only be done right before the party gets marked
999, or whatever numbering sequence you want to use). No matter what
scheme you use, make sure that your list will help you do what can
be done sooner and remind you of what will need to be done later.
Coordinate With Your Party Helper!
As the party day gets closer, stay in touch with your Party Helper
and other friends and family who have offered to help with the party
(by providing party items or taking care of errands) to make sure
that everything is on track. Review your Party Plan List one last
time with your Party Helper and discuss any final arrangements that
need to be made. By this time both you and your Party Helper need to
have a very clear idea of who is taking care of what.
Help Yourself To Be Prepared!
Remember the Golden Rule about parties: Everything you need to do
will take longer than you think!
So, using your Party Plan List, do everything you possibly can ahead
Any food item that can be prepared and stored or frozen can be made
prior to the party. If you've frozen an item, note on your Party
Plan List what time it needs to be taken out of the freezer.
For any food item that needs to be made the day of the party, think
ahead. Can you pre-measure the ingredients and store in containers
in the `frig or seal in resealable plastic bags? This will save you
plenty of time on Party Day!
Remember that parties create TRASH and GARBAGE. Most people don't
plan ahead for this. Using the free printable signs that are
available with this article, plan for trash, garbage, and
recyclables (if that applies). If you don't have regular large
trashcans (or garbage cans that you can hose out and have clean for
the party), then big cardboard boxes will do. Buy large trash bags.
Put several in the bottom of the trashcan before you put in the
trash bag that will be open. This way, as the trashcan fills up, you
can bag up the trash and there will be another trash bag ready to go!
Accept the fact that it is likely that drinks are going to be
spilled. Depending on what your arrangement is for drinks, whether
cans of soda, bottles of various sport drinks, juices, and water,
cans and bottles of alcoholic beverages, or party punchbowls, please
think ahead about spillage and melting ice. Borrow plenty of coolers
from friends and have certain types of beverages in their own
coolers (all the soda in one cooler, all the bottled drinks in one,
beer in another, etc.). Be sure that one cooler is kept for "clean
ice" that people can use for drinks that are poured into cups. If
the coolers are going to be inside on the floor, spread out beach
towels underneath them to absorb the ice melt. Buy several rolls of
paper towels, and have them handy to dry hands and mop up spills.
Don't Panic on Party Day!
You've been using your Party Plan List and you've been coordinating
with your Party Helper. On Party Day, all you need to do now is go
by the list, and work at getting things done in the order that they
need to be finished.
Hopefully your Party Helper will be available to assist you during
the day. It might also be helpful to appoint other helpers to help
during the party: replenish food trays, put uneaten food away before
it spoils, take care of trash, help set up party games. Ask someone
to restart the music if you are playing CDs on the stereo.
Don't be afraid to ask several people to each do one small task
during the party. They won't mind, and you won't have to spend all
your time hurrying around, trying to do everything!
Enjoy the Party!
Now that you've done all the planning, finished the shopping,
prepared all the food, and greeted your guests as they arrive, you
can relax and enjoy the party!
After the mess is gone and the place is back to normal, please do
remember to personally thank your Party Helper and all those who
lent a hand in making it a successful event! And then offer your
services as Party Helper for their next party.
Jan K., The Proofer is freelance proofreader and copyeditor. Visit
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