Party Planning Ideas & Tips

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There are lots of things that can help you host a fantastic party or event.  Here is a short list of a few of my tips for party planning.

  1. DATE & GUEST LIST:  To start, pick a date and time and write a guest list together.  I am a little old school and I prefer to mail invitations if I have the time.  To get with the times try an online website such as Evite, is perfect for creating, sending, and managing online invitations.  You may need to call some of the guests and give the details as not everyone is up on technology yet.
  2. THEME:  Pick a theme.  For a recent graduation party, we chose ‘Asian Flair’ because of the graduation colours and the bag of black, a love of all styles of Asian food, and white Asian paper lanterns I found in a closet that I purchased four years ago that I forgot about 😉   Find your starting point and work from there.
  3. BUDGET:  Before picking out refreshments, decorations etc you need to pick a budget.  Dont forget to add in costs for ice, propane for the BBQ, serving dishes, dishes, napkins, glasses etc.  Start pulling out anything that you have on hand that you will use.  This will help to make the purchasing list and determining your budget.
  4. LOCATION:  Decide where the event will be hosted.  If you are planning to have the party outside at your home, be sure to think about what you will do if the weather is not ideal.  Recently, I planned on a graduation party outside in our backyard, but mother nature had other plans.. It rained… So always have a back up plan. ie: You have 50 people invited for an outside event but it rains.  Do you cancel, or can your home accommodate 50 people inside.
  5. SEATING AND TABLES:  I host many events small and large.  It is important to keep in mind the number of people coming to your event/party and have seating for everyone.  For large events you may need to rent or borrow seating.
  6. REFRESHMENTS:  Menu planning is next.  Will you make all the food, have it catered, or potluck.  If I am having a cocktail party or themed dinner, I sometimes buy a few items from a restaurant or caterer and make the rest of the menu myself.  This helps relieve the stress of party preparation and to serve those unique things that you may not make at home.  For example, I decided to buy the various Sushi rolls, and make the rest of the menu items myself.  Plan a signature drink to go with your party theme.  Guests usually love this, and it makes it easier for you as the host to prep for one or two mixed cocktails.  However, plan on that not everyone will want one and have a few back up options. The point of this is unless you are hiring a bartender, keep it simple, you don’t want to be mixing specialty cocktails all evening. Check any items you may need to stock the bar and add to your list.
  7. MAKE PLANNING LISTS:  I reviewed each recipe,  made a grocery list and made a time frame for the days leading up to the party.  Which items could be made in advance.  Could I make and freeze before hand. These lists are a must for any big event, I have a digital copy on the cloud so whatever device is in front of me the lists are easily accessed.  For large events I print off the lists as well.  Cross off or remove each task once finished.
  8. DECORATIONS:  Plan the decorations I had on hand and things I would like to buy.  Then wrote down where I would put them if the party was inside or outside as I wanted.  This helped with directing family or friends who are helping you especially last-minute when your busy in the kitchen.
  9. SHOPPING:  Pick a day at least a week in advance to head out and buy any decorations, and serving items.  Plan you grocery shopping day two days before the party.  Have someone on hand that may be able to run out and get those last-minute things you might need, like bags of ice.
  10. HELPERS OR CATERERS:  Keep in mind that sometimes in order to enjoy time with the guests at your party, you may need to hire a caterer, someone to help serve.  Being stuck in the kitchen or worrying about food and drinks, cleaning up etc the entire time doesn’t make for a very fun party.  Especially if it is for a special occasion that you want to be a part of and celebrate with the guests.
  11.  KNOW YOUR GUESTS:  Not everyone may drink alcoholic drinks, prepare and have varieties of drinks, remember to ask if anyone has any food allergies, and/or special needs.
  12. ENTERTAINMENT:  This could be as simple as making a song list for your party or hiring a DJ, or a party clown.  Dead silence in the background can make for a dull and awkward party.
  13. CLEANING:  Clean your house thoroughly 3 or 4 days in advance this way you just need to give it a quick once over instead of a major de-cluttering and cleaning the day of your party.
  14. FLORAL ARRANGING:  You can limit the decorative items if you have a few beautiful flower arrangements.  You can order these in advance and have the florist make these or pick up some flowers a day or two before the party and make your own arrangements.  I LOVE FLOWERS AT ANY PARTY!
  15. KEEP IT REAL:  With all the ideas you can find online for decorations, themes, costumes, treats, gifts etc. Sometimes the best parties are the simplest ones, pick one or two unique ideas and go with that.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been called the queen at going overboard.  My experience has shown me that most guests will be impressed with all that you outdid yourself on, however, they came to spend time with you,  so be present!
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