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Party Planning Checklist

Whether you’re throwing a small casual get-together or a huge formal event, a birthday bash or the company holiday party, this checklist will help you with every aspect of your planning — deciding on a theme, choosing the food, theme, sending invitations, decorations, you name it!

A Few First Steps

Checkmark-Icondetermine the type of party — formal, special occasion, holiday, etc.

Xmark-Icondecide if you want drinks, finger foods, buffet, full meal, potluck, or other food option

Checkmark-Iconchoose a party theme

Xmark-Icondecide how many guests you would like to invite

Checkmark-Iconset a date, time, and place for your party

Xmark-Icondetermine a date by when guests must RSVP

Checkmark-Icondecide if you want live entertainment or recorded music

Xmark-Icondetermine if you want a do-it-yourself affair or to hire professionals

Checkmark-Iconmake lists of tasks that can be done in advance and those for party day

Xmark-Iconmake a shopping list — including small items like napkins and candles

Checkmark-Iconbook your location and pay any deposit

Budgeting For Your Party

Xmark-Icondecorations — flowers, plants, tablecloths, centerpieces, banners, props, etc.

Checkmark-Iconfood and beverages — including ice, alcohol, plates, cups, and napkins

Xmark-Iconother services — caterer, parking attendant, wait staff, etc.

Checkmark-Iconinvitations and postage

Xmark-Iconrental space

Checkmark-Iconentertainment — music, DJ, etc.

Xmark-Icontables, chairs, and other equipment rentals

Checkmark-Iconother miscellaneous expenses

Going the “Do-It-Yourself” Route

Xmark-Iconrecruit some volunteers

Checkmark-Iconassign jobs to help with planning, set up, serving, and clean up

Xmark-Iconpurchase or make decorations and decorate the room

Checkmark-Iconpurchase or rent dishes, glassware, and silverware

Xmark-Iconpurchase or rent table cloths, napkins, and serving pieces

Checkmark-Iconpurchase or rent decorations, centerpieces, candles, etc.

Xmark-Iconshop for groceries and prepare food

If You’re Throwing A Business Party…

Checkmark-Iconwill you focus on business issues or just a party?

Xmark-Iconwill employees contribute to the cost of the party?

Checkmark-Icondo you need to accommodate any special dietary requirements?

Xmark-Iconwhat is the most appropriate venue — on site or at another location?

Checkmark-Iconwhat will you need in terms of parking, disabled access, amenities, etc.?

Xmark-Iconwhat sort of decorations will you want — banners, flowers, centerpieces, balloons, etc.?

Checkmark-Iconhow will you go about purchasing or requesting donations for raffle prizes?

Xmark-Iconwhat will your schedule for the evening look like — time for speeches, presentations, etc.?

Checkmark-Iconwill you hire caterer and serving help or do the work yourself?

Xmark-Iconwill you hire entertainers or arrange a sound system and select recorded music?

Timeline — A Few Weeks Before

Checkmark-Iconput together your guest list and gather addresses and phone numbers

Xmark-Iconorder invitations

Checkmark-Iconpurchase decorations, paper goods, and other supplies

Xmark-Iconcontract for any services — caterer, entertainment, etc.

Checkmark-Iconplan your menu and purchase non-perishable foods and drinks

Xmark-Iconcontact any friends or family you want to help with the party

Checkmark-Iconaddress and mail your invitations

Xmark-Iconpick out the music

Checkmark-Iconcontract for any equipment rental — chairs, tables, etc.

Timeline — A Week Before

Xmark-Iconconfirm any friends, family, and hired service people working the party

Checkmark-Iconpick out your party outfit and have it cleaned

Xmark-Iconfinalize the space layout and decorations

Checkmark-Iconshop for bulk of perishable food

Timeline — One Or Two Days Before

Xmark-Iconclean your house if the party is at your home

Checkmark-Iconbegin decorating

Xmark-Icongather your supplies and equipment together

Checkmark-Iconshop for any last-minute food or supplies

Xmark-Icontouch base with any contracted service providers

Checkmark-Iconassign specific tasks to your volunteer assistants

Xmark-Iconmake preparations for cleaning up, returning equipment, etc.

Timeline — The Big Day

Checkmark-Iconfinalize the decorations and place settings

Xmark-Iconinstruct any hired and volunteer helpers

Checkmark-Iconmake your perishable foods

Xmark-Iconrelax and enjoy yourself!

Tips For Heading Off Problems

Checkmark-Iconinclude every piece of pertinent info on the invitation or a separate insert

Xmark-Iconinclude directions, dress requirements, schedule for the evening, etc.

Checkmark-Iconhave guests RSVP a week before the event so you have time to plan for adequate seating and food

Xmark-Iconlet the facility know ASAP of any special needs you might have

Checkmark-Iconbe sure to arrange for AV equipment, chairs and tables, space for entertainers, etc.

Xmark-Iconput up directional signs pointing guests toward the right location

Checkmark-Iconput up signs to the restrooms if they are not in the immediate area

Xmark-Iconconfirm arrangements with hired service providers a few days ahead

Checkmark-Iconmake sure caterers, bartenders, musicians, valet parking, wait staff, etc. have details and directions

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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