Party Planning 101 – the Checklist to Success

I’ve always loved celebrating events. Birthdays, Christmas, other holidays or just random reasons to throw a party. Something about it just gives me a buzz. Party planning though, particularly for birthdays, can sometimes be more of a nightmare than a fun celebration. There is so much to organise, so much to buy, so much to make and arrange again and sometimes time can run away from you, and the whole thing just ends up being a headache-inducing horror. I’ve had those parties, and they can ruin party planning for a lot of people. But, there is a way to try to keep control over your party, so that you are the one in charge and running the show, not the other way around. By giving yourself a checklist to follow, you don’t eliminate all the stress of party planning, but you can get rid of a lot of it. Because there is a list to follow and a process to help you make sure you don’t miss anything significant. Today I’d like to share with you a checklist to success for party planning, seeing as I’m in that cake and balloons mood already for my own birthday. Now it is only a rough checklist, so feel free to adapt or add to it as you need, but I hope that with this list in hand, party planning will at least be a little easier for you the next time you do it. 

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

Choose a theme

Choosing a theme can be the most fun, or the most stressful part of the entire planning procedure because all of the next steps really hang off this one. Without a theme, you won’t know what kind of decorations to buy, whether you need to book a venue, if you need to hire/order anything specific like a cake and the list goes on. So, before you start thinking about anything else, decide on what kind of theme your party is going to have. That way, you’ll have that as guidance when you start getting everything else done. 

Photo by Silvia Trigo on

Set the time, date and place (and book) 

Once you’ve got a theme in mind, it is time to sort out the necessary basic details. Where is it going to happen and when? If you are planning on doing a party at your own house, then that saves you having to book a venue, and that makes the date choosing a bit more flexible because you know when you can have a party at your house. All you have to do then is pick a time. Weekends are usually best and time simply depends on what you think is better for the party. If you are planning on hiring a venue, which you will have figured out from your theme (a bowling party is easier at a bowling alley), then this is the time to book. Booking in advance is crucial as you will then have more flexibility of getting a date and time that you like, instead of having to pick the only one available because of last-minute bookings. Once these three essentials are decided, it is time to move on to the next step. 

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Invite the guests

Once you know where and when it is time to let everyone else know about it. Now is when you design your invitation (to match your theme), decide on your guest list and send your invitations out to everyone. The reason why I suggest inviting your guests early on in the process is that it gives plenty of time for people to RSVP, which provides you with enough time to sort out food and things according to the final guest list of people who are coming. Inviting people well ahead of time is also a good idea because it gives them ample notice and they are less likely to have something already booked on that day. 

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on

Plan out your event 

You know the basic details for the party, and you’ve invited all the guests, now it is time to get fun and exciting with the more interesting details. Think about what kind of food you’d like to have at the party – is it going to be mostly sweets, or savoury food as well? Will you be doing the cooking or are you getting a caterer? Is the food going to match your theme? Next, think about the kind of decorations and activities you’d like. What stuff can you make or arrange yourself or is it cheaper and easier to buy it all? All these questions depend on you and what kind of party you’d like to host. These details also help clarify things in your mind and help make your shopping, cooking and decorating a lot easier in the long run so the sooner you plan out things like this, the better. 

Photo by Ann H on

Create your lists

My favourite part of any checklist is writing out a list for something. Am I right? Who am I kidding, I know that lists aren’t that thrilling for everyone but when planning a party, now is the time to break out paper and a pen (or your phone) and start writing out your lists. Grocery lists, lists of things that need to be hired/ordered, shopping lists for decorations and other party materials and lastly, your own to-do lists of things that need to be done between now and the day of the party. I suggest making all of these lists because we can forget things sometimes, and the last thing you want is to add more stress to your plate because you forgot to buy or order something and you only realise it the day of the party. Lists are just a backup for you to keep track of everything that has been done and what still needs to be done, and it helps make your life a lot easier if you aren’t killing yourself to remember every little thing that needs to get done. 

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Buy your supplies

Your lists of what to buy are written, it’s time to actually buy the stuff. Buy your supplies a week or even two weeks ahead of time so that there are no worries if the store doesn’t have stock or it isn’t the exact thing you wanted. I’d suggest leaving the buying of perishables to the day or two before the party, but most other things I’d suggest you get now. While you are buying your supplies, make sure that you order anything that you need for the day. Cake orders take time, so do catering orders, and even entertainment like performers or jumping castles (for kids parties) need to be booked at least a week in advance so rather get that done while it’s fresh in your head. 

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Clean the house/confirm venues etc. 

The party date is getting close. This step comes in two or three days before the party, and it is crucial. If you are having a party at your house, grab a broom and get cleaning. I’m sure you want your home to look beautiful and clean and not have any valuables or rubble lying about. If your party is at a venue, call and confirm that everything is still good to go. Same for anything you’ve ordered or hired, call them to check that your plan for your party is still intact. The reason why I say you should call a few days ahead of the actual party is if, and touch wood there isn’t, there is a problem, and you need to now make a new plan. Calling a few days ahead gives you at least two or three days to come up with a new plan instead of having to do it on the day. It’s all to help you avoid unnecessary stress. 

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Buy the perishables 

Remember I said you should save buying perishables for a day or two before the party? Well now is the part of the checklist where you should go and buy all of those items. Anything you plan on cooking, or fresh ingredients that don’t last too long, this is the time to buy them. 

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Get cooking

Some people prefer to get ready-made food for their parties, or hire caterers do sort out anything edible, and if that is what you’ve decided then awesome! If you’ve opted to cook things yourself (like snack food, a meal or the cake), then this is the time to do it. This is just so the food is still lovely and fresh for the party. It’s time for you to don your apron and cook up all of those dishes. Just make sure that you know what your kitchen can handle so that you don’t run out of time or oven space to make everything because that is a problem that nobody needs the day before a party. 

Photo by Joe on

Start decorating

Either the day before or the morning of the party, break out all of those decorations you bought and start putting everything up. If you have people to help you set up, then you could probably get away with getting everything done the day of the party but if you are a one-person show, then doing it the day before saves you the stress and time pressure of trying to get it all done with only hours to spare. Put up all the streamers, set the table and get as much ready for the party as you can. That way, it’s not as much of a mad rush to do when the party’s about to start/ (Side note though, if this is a surprise party for someone who lives at your house, your child or sibling perhaps, then you can’t really set things up the day before. You’ll have to come up with a different plan to decorate so that the surprise isn’t ruined.) 

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Final touches and displaying

It’s the day of the party. The food is all ready, most of the decorations are up, and things look just about prepared for the guests to arrive. If there are any final touches that need to be done, such as chilling drinks, sliding food into the oven to heat up, pouring sweets into bowls, or hanging up the last few decorations, then this is the time to do it. Inflate balloons an hour or two before, or if you ordered helium balloons then place them now. Get your music ready for dancing, and when all that is done … 

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Party time!

It’s party time now! You’ve organised and sorted out everything. It all looks beautiful, and so now it is time to take a deep breath out and enjoy the party. Welcome your guests, pour out some drinks, turn up the music and just have a good time. Party planning is stressful enough as it is, at the very least, you should get to fully enjoy what you’ve worked so hard to put together. 

Photo by Rene Asmussen on

And so there you have it! I hope that you all enjoyed today’s blog post. I know that party planning can be a mission and so I hope that this list, whether you make changes to it, use all of it or just one or two bits of it, makes your life a little easier the next time you have to plan a party. For my question of the day: 

  • Do you have any party planning tips you’d like to share? 
  • Have you ever had a party planning disaster you’d like to share? 

Please feel free to share your answers in the comments section – I really love hearing from you all about your own experiences, so I can’t wait to hear them. If you enjoyed today’s blog post, please don’t forget to hit that little like button at the bottom of this post and subscribe, so you don’t miss out on future posts (also remember we’re trying to hit 200 subscribers/followers by the end of October). You guys are all so amazing. Thank you so much for reading and happy party planning!

Lots of Love

Blondey on a Mission xxx

Author: blondeyonamission

Hey everyone! I'm a lifestyle and travel blogger from South Africa and about to relocate to the UK for university. My blog is all about stories, tips and advice with topics ranging from university, organisation, friends, books, travel and more. Please check it out and I hope you enjoy xxx

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