This is the fourth and final part of the Party Planning 101 Series. If you missed previous blog posts on RESOURCES, PRIORITIES and EXPECTATIONS, and ALL THE DETAILS, just click on the links and catch up!
I hope you find this information helpful and inspiring!
An important part of any execution is understanding your abilities. So before you run to the craft store and buy all the supplies, I want you to sit down and evaluate. This will certainly eliminate the stress later.
Now that you’ve gathered some ideas for the party, look at your categories again (invitations, decorations, food, cake/cupcakes, games/activities, and favors) and then allocate a specific amount of money to each idea in your categories and write them down.
If you need to do additional research, (a price for a dozen of balloons, for instance, or how much for 4 large pizzas and delivery), do it now. Each category needs to have funding, and so you need to know how much things cost (even if it’s an approximate) before you commit to a certain idea. If you are going over your budgeted amount of money, evaluate that category again, look over other ideas you have chosen, and see if you can cut something out from another category.
For instance, perhaps you’ll realize that instead of renting a bowling alley you’ll have the kids over your house and have them play outside and do a craft. Then you can use the bowling alley rental money to get a big cake from the bakery and a fun favor for everyone.
After you’ve narrowed down the options you can afford financially, now is the time to allocate time!
This is also very important because if you don’t have enough time, you won’t be able to get things done! Again, look at each party category (invitations, decorations, food, cake/cupcakes, games/activities, favors), but now with your available time in mind. Next to each idea in your categories, write down an approximate amount of time that you think you’ll need to accomplish each task.
If you see that there are more ideas and projects than you have time, then it’s time to evaluate again and either cut something out, improvise, or delegate! Look at your list of people who are available to help and ask them to step in! Don’t feel embarrassed or awkward! They are most likely your family or close friends, and more often than not, they are happy and eager to help!
Well, FINALLY, this is the time of putting all that planning above into action and have it work for you. I assure you, if you follow the steps in parts 1-3, this fourth one should be far less stressful and chaotic than if you had done no planning, research, or preparation at all. Make a list, put a number of priority to each item, focus, and get to work.
Word of advice, if something is not working out, and especially if you are on a time crunch, DITCH it! Trust me, from my own experience, it’s not worth the aggravation to try to figure something out for days only to realize that now you have no time to finish it anyway. Stress level—high! Be flexible and prepared for plan B. And guess what, in many cases, your plan B (or even C) works out so much better than the original idea you had in your head. Ask me how I know! 😉
A few more helpful tips:
Do these one week before the party:
- Confirm details with the venue (if the party is on location)
- Confirm all R.S.V.P.s and call guests who haven’t responded
- Finalize party’s menu
- Shop for food/drinks
- Order cake/cupcakes
- Decide on the party’s timeline
- Make decorations
- Make/assemble favors
- Make a playlist for background music
Do these one day before the party:
- Clean the house (if it’s a house party)
- Put up decorations
- Set the food table (extensions, tablecloth, utensils, plates, napkins)
- Set the craft table or craft area
- Lay out everyone’s clothes to wear at the party (and a few backups)
- Bake the cake/cupcakes (or pick up from the vendor)
- Food prep (anything you can do the day before, do it!)
- Gather up all supplies for crafts, games, or activities
- CHARGE your camera, video camera, phone, iPads.
Do these on Party Day:
- Take a shower and get ready
- Get everyone, yourself included, dressed in party clothes
- Finish food prep
- Arrange all the food on the food table
- Pick up balloons (along with some ice)
- Set up games/activities
- Last minute food prep/set up
- Put some lip gloss on, it’s time to party! 🙂
Do these the week after the party:
- Write thank you notes
- Ok, fine, now you can clean up! 🙂
Phew! We have done it! We covered all the important topics regarding party planning, and I hope you are better equipped now than before you read the posts in this series.
To make things even easier for you, I’ve created a simple downloadable Party Planning Checklist that you can print and use as you go.
A few last words of encouragement…
Be open-minded and please don’t be too hard on yourself. If all you do for decorations is balloons, it’ll be perfect and nobody will know that you had originally planned something different. If you don’t send paper invitations, but just invite everyone via email, the celebration won’t be any less special. If you get cupcakes from the grocery store or make them from the box mix, they will look and taste just as good as the homemade.
Remind yourself that you are throwing a party for a birthday person to have a good time with his/her guests, not for others to evaluate your craftiness, time management, and cooking skills. Keep your head high and ignore the negative Nancies! Anything (!!!) you can do for the party is an act of your love and devotion to the birthday person, whether it’s a small simple gathering or a bigger and flashier party!
Happy party planning! 🙂