Back to Basics: How to Start Planning Your Next Party

The start of the new year brings us all the feeling that we can start fresh. This is the time of year where we make new goals and dreams and plan for the best way to fulfill them. 2020 helped us all find a new appreciation for connecting and gathering with one another. Everyone is ready to party once it is safe for us all. That’s why we are dedicating this month to getting back to basics. We want you to ready to throw an epic party and reunite with your love ones once we all can. Here are five simple steps to start planning your next gathering.

1 Set your intention

What do I mean about setting an intention for you gathering? To help you figure it out answer these questions. What is your purpose for bringing people together? What is the feeling you want your guest to walk away with? It could be for something obvious like a birthday or holiday. But your intention might be something more abstract or niche. Have a love for spy genre and want to start a book club? Are you looking to get the other women in your office together? Or are you throwing a specific theme party like a Hollywood Movie Night? Setting your intention will help you guide you throughout the planning process.

2 Make a Budget

A budget is a must for any kind of event. No matter how big or small. You want to avoid getting stressed or surprised by the cost of hosting your party. It’s suppose to be fun after all. Building a budget is the best way to prepare and save ahead for your gathering. First, do some research into the average cost of certain items. You can refine your budget when you get an estimate from vendors. If you are hosting a low-key dinner at home, same rules apply. Estimate the cost of food and beverage, and any decorations you may use like flowers and candles. Here is a budget template.

3 Make your guest list

Creating a guest list isn’t about jotting down a few names of people you want to attend your party. Go back to your intention. What is the purpose for your event? Is this a gathering of your bff’s for brunch? Are you throwing a cocktail party with other mom’s from your child’s class? Are you hosing a business dinner in your home? Your intention for your event will guide you to who will be on your guest list.

Next, consider your space for your party. Are you in a small space and can invite another couple over for dinner or do you have seating for 12? Keeping your space consideration will help you hone in the number of guest you will invite.

Now it’s time to create your list. Your guest list is the central place for you to keep information about your guest. This includes their contact information, dietary restrictions, and RSVPs. You can also keep track of any gifts you received, dishes for a potluck, and even for sending out thank you cards. Here is a template to help you make your guest list.

4 Iron out the details

You have your theme. You know who you want there. Now it’s time to iron out the when and where.

Pick a date. Easy right! Well you can’t blindly pick a day on the calendar. There are many factors to consider. First, know the availability of key people you want at your event. Make sure you are picking a day and time they are available. Keep in mind school breaks and holidays. These are times when most people plan to go on vacation or have set traditions that would interfere. Take a quick look at the calendar and make sure there are no competing events that will pull guest from your party. Lastly, think about the weather. You need to make sure that you choose the right season for the type of event that you’re putting on. If you are planning an outdoor event, have a plan B of rain date in case of inclement weather.

There are a couple of factors to keep in mind when picking a time. Consider who
 you’ll be inviting. Teenagers and young adults won’t be down for an early morning event. Whereas a late night gathering would not work for elderly people and young children. Also, consider the type of event you are throwing. A garden party would be more of a day time event, where a cocktail party wold be more of an evening event.

The last major detail is the location. This depends on the type of party you are throwing, your budget, and your guest list. Consider your space requirements for your party and where would be the best place to host it. For example, I live in a one-bedroom NYC apartment. Our space allows for six guest for a sit down dinner. But, if we are cocktail party we can host about 15 people.

5 Stay Stress Free

Hosting any kind of gathering can be stressful. But the best way to help from feeling overwhelmed is by getting organized. Most of the stress of planning a party is figuring out what needs get done. The more organized I am, the more relaxed. I am big list maker and making a simple checklist with due dates helps me to stay on track and cut the stress. Here is a basic timeline:

One month out: Start with the basics

  • Decide on your intention and theme
  • Create a budget
  • Make guest list and send invites
  • Set the date, time and location of the party

Three weeks out: Taking Stock

  • Take stock of your essential party supplies (plates, flatware, glass ware, platters, tables and chairs)
  • Decide and order decorations, games or activities, and party favors
  • Plan the menu (We’ll have more on this later this month!)
  • Create a master shopping list
  • Order any food you are not making yourself
  • If your budget allows, hire some help for the day (Check our Gig Masters)
  • Decide on entertainment (Create the party playlist or hire a musician)

Two weeks out: Getting ready

  • Buy nonperishable items
  • Determine set up

One week out: Finalize your plans         

  • Follow up with guests who haven’t sent RSVPs
  • Plan out how you will cook. Plan any menu items that can be made in advance. I even plan the oven time and temperature for the food you are making day of

Two days before: Get Ready

  • Buy fresh groceries needed for your menu
  • Gather serving pieces, flatware, plates and glassware
  • Clean the common areas of your home
  • Send a reminder text to your guest with any information they might need i.e. parking plans, ring buzzer

Day before: Get Set

  • Confirm any food or service orders
  • Prep any menu items that can be made a day in advance or even prep ingredients to make cooking day of easier
  • Plan food, drink and garbage set up
  • Set the table
  • Choose an area for jackets, bags, and shoes
  • Set up your decorations

Day of: Go!

  • Finish meal prep an hour before party begins
  • Set up food/drink stations
  • Do a final quick clean: vacuum and touch up the guest bathroom
  • Get dressed, greet guests, and have fun!

Now, let’s get planning!

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