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 party guests.
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 of time:
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…
About The Author
Jan K., The Proofer is freelance proofreader and copyeditor. Visit http://www.janktheproofer.com for more information about Jan’s services; http://work-at-home.janktheproofer.com for work at home articles and free printables; and for work at home moms, visit Jan’s sister site http://work-at-home.momsbreak.com for articles, free printables, and work at home T-shirts and other fun products.
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