How to Plan a Party: Your Ultimate Guide

After the holidays, it's the perfect time to relax and start planning your next party! We've shared some EASY party ideas that we've discussed over the years - from the BEST party games for adults...

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After the holidays, it's the perfect time to relax and start planning your next party! We've shared some EASY party ideas that we've discussed over the years - from the BEST party games for adults to simple party invitations that your kids will LOVE. But today, I want to talk about the process of planning a party for any gathering, big or small, and how you can save time, money, and stress all at once!

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How to Plan a Party

Organization is key when it comes to hosting a successful party! Don't wait until the last minute to start planning - start today! We'll guide you through the steps of planning a party and provide you with a free party planning checklist so you can enjoy your party with your guests!

Steps for Planning a Party

Preparing party supplies and planning ahead will make the organizing process easy and smooth! Here's how you can do it:

  1. Check Your Calendar

    • Need a printable calendar? We've created a FREE PRINTABLE CALENDAR to match our party planning checklist.
    • Look through your calendar to find upcoming birthdays and special events and note the dates for your celebration. Set a date early enough so you have time to plan.
    • Note any events that are spaced just a few weeks apart. (Example: If your child's birthday is just a week before Easter this year, being alerted in advance will help you avoid being overwhelmed by both events.)
    • If you've always wanted to host a specific type of party, such as a Derby party, but never had the opportunity to do so, this is a good time to mark the date on your calendar.
  2. Gather Inspiration

    • Knowing the parties you've planned in the past year will allow you to start brainstorming ideas for the current party.
    • Magazines, blogs, and books provide excellent inspiration for party decorations and food recipes. (You're following Somewhat Simple on Pinterest, right?!)
    • Once you decide on some decoration ideas or table centerpieces for a party, you can start shopping for the items you need.
  3. Start Shopping Early

    • Check your tablecloths, serving dishes, and water pitchers. Discard stained or torn tablecloths or donate items you no longer use. Note any items that need to be replaced. Since stores often have discounts on household items at the beginning of the year, this is a good time to look for new items.
    • When you have a list of upcoming events and the items you'll need, keep an eye out for good shopping opportunities.
    • Shopping for party supplies early will also help you compare prices, avoid last-minute shopping, and get better deals on the items you need.
    • After holiday sales are also a good time to buy party supplies. For example, after Valentine's Day, pink and red items are always discounted. It's the perfect time to shop for birthday parties or playdates with little girls.

Party Planning Checklist

To get extra help in party planning, you can download our free Party Planning Checklist. It will provide you with everything you need to plan a last-minute party!

  • 3 Weeks Before -

    • Choose a theme
    • Create a guest list
    • Plan the menu
    • Order/purchase invitations
    • Plan decorations & table setup
  • 2 Weeks Before -

    • Send out invitations
    • Make a shopping list
    • Call caterers, bakeries, or any other suppliers
    • DIY decorations or party favors
    • Wash and iron tablecloths
  • 1 Week Before -

    • Deep clean the house (be prepared for cleanup and tidying up when the party approaches. Because you have kids, right?)
    • Buy nonperishable groceries
    • Schedule cooking
  • 3 Days Before -

    • Arrange decorations
    • Set up food + beverage area
    • Complete grocery shopping
    • Double-check recipes - make sure you haven't missed anything
  • 1 Day Before -

    • Clean the dining table
    • Buy + arrange flowers
    • Do any cooking tasks on this day
  • Party Day -

    • Finish cooking the food
    • Set out the food
    • Clean up/tidy up one final time

You can find our party planning checklist here.

Wishing you a joyful and successful party!

About the Author

  • Deanna is a creative mom and blogger from Mirabelle Creations. Deanna shares personalized, meaningful party designs to help people celebrate special occasions in life. Mirabelle Creations specializes in colorful, stylish paper products for modern hosts.

This article was first published in 2014. It was updated in 2018 with new printable checklists.