PARTY PLANNING 101, PART 2 (PRIORITIES AND EXPECTATIONS)

This is a second part in a series of posts created to help you with planning your party.

Last time, I talked about your RESOURCES, which include your BUDGET, TIME, and HELP.

Read about it HERE.

Today, I want to talk about your PRIORITIES and EXPECTATIONS.

So often we get caught up in the “party mode” that we want to do ALL things we see on Pinterest and then, in addition, all things OVER THE TOP. It’s party time!!! Right? Party poppers, sparklers, balloons, and fireworks!!

But I want to encourage you to slow down just a little and figure out what exactly it is that you want your party to be/look/feel like and then assess your abilities.

So the next step is: figure out your priorities and set proper expectations.

Before you jump on Pinterest and start gawking at all the incredible crafty things people do to throw a party, STOP! You are simply not there yet. I think a lot of people make this mistake and rush to find inspiration on the Internet, only to get a million of really cool ideas and at the same time get so overwhelmed with them that they simply give up and state “Party throwing is for the birds!”.

Trust me, anyone can throw a nice little party, if only you take it easy first, carefully plan, research, and do what YOU want, not what you think other people would want to see. This “Pinterest worthy” notion drives me crazy. Understand that you are throwing a party for a beautiful person in your live, not for the Internet.

PRIORITIES

Priorities are the things that matter to the birthday person the most (or to you, if it’s a very young child).

Ask your birthday person (or yourself) these questions:

-Would you want to invite a lot of people, like a whole class/troop/team, OR just a few close friends?

-Would you want to go somewhere (like a bowling alley, tea room, trampoline park) OR would you rather have a party at home?

-Would you want it to be just friends OR just family? Or combined?

-Would you want to have a theme OR keep it simple with no specific theme? If theme, what are some ideas?

-Would you like to just hang out, chat, eat food, at your party, OR would you like to do be more active and do things like games/crafts/activities?

-Would you like to have a meal at your party OR lots of different finger foods OR just desserts?

-Would you like to have a cake OR cupcakes (which flavors are your favorite?)

-Would you like to have favors OR ditch them? If yes, should it be something useful OR a yummy treat?

Etc.

The questions above are just a few samples of some very general topics that can help you get a feel for the party a birthday person is hoping to have.

Not all of the requests will be met, but it’s important to have good communication and correct expectations.

EXPECTATIONS

Now, think about what you can reasonably do based on your budget, time, and available help, and set your own expectations right away. This is the time to do some research, write down the prices for possible venues, catering, cake prices, party packages, etc.

Research part is very important because without it, you are just shooting up in the sky with your estimates and might get hit hard with the actual prices when it’s time to pay the party bill.

Here’s a list of categories that will take most of your budget:

  • VENUE
  • DECORATIONS
  • FOOD
  • DRINKS (especially if it includes adult beverages)
  • PARTY ESSENTIALS (piñata, favors, etc.)

Based on the “interview questions” above, make a list of possible options. Then pull out your trusty yellow phone book or google your local venues and make calls or request quotes online.

For example, a few years back, we wanted to host my daughter’s party at a tea room. The idea was lovely, but there were a few caveats that swayed us the other way. Tearooms don’t usually offer “party packages”, but they can accommodate large groups. Half of our guest list consisted of kids, and a few of them were still baby-toddler age. Seeing that no tearoom that we searched offered a private room where we could have kids walk around freely if they wanted, was reason one to not choose that option.

Reason two was the price. We got quotes from a few tearooms in the area, and with 14 guests on our list, it turned out to be quite expensive. In addition, with many children attending who most likely would NOT have eaten the sophisticated tearoom food, this option began to look to us like a big waste of money.

Catering for just grown-ups and delivery from the tea room to our home (so that the kids could freely play) still was a tad pricey. Plus, in this case, we would have had to make different food for the kids, and that was an additional cost that would also require additional time.

Having done the research, we realized that while the idea of a Tea Party in a real tea room sounded amazing at first, it just wasn’t in our budget nor would it have been an enjoyable time overall.

When you have a feel for how much different options cost, you’ll be able to narrow it down to the one that best suits your budget and your Birthday person’s priorities. If you can’t make a decision, ask yourself this questions: what’s more important, “this” or “that”? Think, evaluate, or envision a party without “this thing” and then without “that thing”, and the answer will come.

For example, for me personally, making our own invitations is more important than having party favors. So because of giving it a priority, my time and money would go first to “handmade invitations” (including craft paper, glue, embellishments, printer ink, stamps, etc.), and the favors will be determined later, based on having extra time and money.

Or, for instance, a fancy cake from the bakery is not important to me or my kids, so I always bake my own desserts, which is much cheaper, but it requires a lot more time. So I can save the money for extras, like balloons or fresh flowers, but I will have to make the extra time for baking the cake.

Remember, it should be a fun time celebrating a loved one in your life, a happy occasion. Keep that thought in mind and let it help you find the right touches and make the decisions based on that person’s desires or personality. Don’t simply give in to demands either, but compromise instead.

Figuring out your PRIORITIES and setting correct EXPECTATIONS are two of the most important components of your success in any venture, but especially helpful in planning your next event! When you are ready, come back to learn about the fun part—looking for and narrowing down the nitty-gritty PARTY IDEAS and DETAILS, Part 3 in this Party Planning series. And after that, check out final Part 4, EXECUTION (and download a FREE printable Party Planning Checklist)!

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