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!
determine the type of party — formal, special occasion, holiday, etc.
decide if you want drinks, finger foods, buffet, full meal, potluck, or other food option
choose a party theme
decide how many guests you would like to invite
set a date, time, and place for your party
determine a date by when guests must RSVP
decide if you want live entertainment or recorded music
determine if you want a do-it-yourself affair or to hire professionals
make lists of tasks that can be done in advance and those for party day
make a shopping list — including small items like napkins and candles
book your location and pay any deposit
decorations — flowers, plants, tablecloths, centerpieces, banners, props, etc.
food and beverages — including ice, alcohol, plates, cups, and napkins
other services — caterer, parking attendant, wait staff, etc.
invitations and postage
entertainment — music, DJ, etc.
tables, chairs, and other equipment rentals
other miscellaneous expenses
recruit some volunteers
assign jobs to help with planning, set up, serving, and clean up
purchase or make decorations and decorate the room
purchase or rent dishes, glassware, and silverware
purchase or rent table cloths, napkins, and serving pieces
purchase or rent decorations, centerpieces, candles, etc.
shop for groceries and prepare food
will you focus on business issues or just a party?
will employees contribute to the cost of the party?
do you need to accommodate any special dietary requirements?
what is the most appropriate venue — on site or at another location?
what will you need in terms of parking, disabled access, amenities, etc.?
what sort of decorations will you want — banners, flowers, centerpieces, balloons, etc.?
how will you go about purchasing or requesting donations for raffle prizes?
what will your schedule for the evening look like — time for speeches, presentations, etc.?
will you hire caterer and serving help or do the work yourself?
will you hire entertainers or arrange a sound system and select recorded music?
put together your guest list and gather addresses and phone numbers
purchase decorations, paper goods, and other supplies
contract for any services — caterer, entertainment, etc.
plan your menu and purchase non-perishable foods and drinks
contact any friends or family you want to help with the party
address and mail your invitations
pick out the music
contract for any equipment rental — chairs, tables, etc.
confirm any friends, family, and hired service people working the party
pick out your party outfit and have it cleaned
finalize the space layout and decorations
shop for bulk of perishable food
clean your house if the party is at your home
gather your supplies and equipment together
shop for any last-minute food or supplies
touch base with any contracted service providers
assign specific tasks to your volunteer assistants
make preparations for cleaning up, returning equipment, etc.
finalize the decorations and place settings
instruct any hired and volunteer helpers
make your perishable foods
relax and enjoy yourself!
include every piece of pertinent info on the invitation or a separate insert
include directions, dress requirements, schedule for the evening, etc.
have guests RSVP a week before the event so you have time to plan for adequate seating and food
let the facility know ASAP of any special needs you might have
be sure to arrange for AV equipment, chairs and tables, space for entertainers, etc.
put up directional signs pointing guests toward the right location
put up signs to the restrooms if they are not in the immediate area
confirm arrangements with hired service providers a few days ahead
make sure caterers, bartenders, musicians, valet parking, wait staff, etc. have details and directionsClick here for reuse options!
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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 RamonaCreel.com.
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