Party planning checklist: 31 steps to remember

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Organise better parties with this party planning checklist

Party planning takes time, creativity, and the ability to stay organised. Unless it’s a small gathering for family and friends, planning a party should be a structured process with carefully defined steps. That goes for any type of party, be it a throwback Disco party or a Halloween party for kids.

Our party planning checklist should help keep you on track. Not every single step is relevant for every party, but keeping them in mind will make you a better party planner in no time. Follow this checklist to make sure you don’t skip some important steps, like getting enough food for everyone. Starving guests do not a fun party make.

Well in advance

    Date & time: Settle on the date and time for your party. Try to schedule the party so that it doesn’t conflict with any major celebrations, holidays, or festivals. This way, you’ll have a better chance of people showing up.

    Location: Where will your party take place? Will it be outside or inside? At someone’s house, a restaurant, a pub, or elsewhere? Start thinking of potential specific venues.

    Theme: Decide on whether there’s going to be a theme. What’s the occasion for the party? Is it to mark a specific event or “just because." Will people need to dress up in formal wear or costumes?

    Audience: Find out what type of people this party would appeal to. Where can you find them? (What offline or online forums do they use?) Start making a tentative guest list.

    Menu: Will you serve food and drinks? Will people have to bring their own? Start thinking of your potential shopping list and catering options.

    Team: Decide whether you’re flying solo or will have other people helping you plan and run this party. Gather a team and agree on who’s responsible for what aspect of the party planning.

    Budget: What costs can you expect for renting a place, buying food, paying for entertainment, staff, etc. Will you be charging your guests entrance fees or selling tickets to try and offset some of those costs. Are you trying to turn a profit?

One month before

    Programme: Time to start preparing a more detailed outline of the party programme. Will there be party games? Other entertainment in the form of a live band, a DJ, some dancers, and so on? Try to put together a rough schedule of the day.

    Equipment: Now that you have an idea of the programme, it’s time to take stock of what equipment you’ll need. Loudspeakers, projectors, stuff for the games, and more. Will your entertainers bring their own equipment or will you provide some of it? Start placing orders on larger equipment with long delivery times.

    Venue: It’s also time to secure the venue for your party. Make sure you book the restaurant, have a signed contract with the conference hall, or whatever is applicable in your case.

    Vendors: Similarly, make sure to start shortlisting vendors and negotiating agreements on food delivery, flower arrangements, balloons, and so on.

    Event page: Create an event page for your party that brings all of the above together. It should outline the key details about your party - time, place, programme, and so on. Usually, your event page is also where you’ll be keeping track of RSVPs or selling your tickets.

    Invitations: Send out invitations to your guest list. These invitations can link back to your event page so that people can learn more and sign up.

    Promotion: Start promoting your party on all the channels and social media where you expect to find your potential audience. Ask those who’ve already signed up to spread the word to their friends and networks. Don’t forget offline promotion, if it makes sense in your case: Posters, flyers, etc.

Two weeks before

    Confirm vendors: Make sure that all of the vendors have confirmed their deliveries and everything is on track. You don’t want any surprises like missing cake or decorations.

    Buy missing items: Do the shopping for all the smaller things you’re getting on your own - iceboxes, cutlery, table cloths, etc.

    Logistics: Start thinking of things like seating plans and the physical layout of the venue. Where will people park? Through which door will the catering crew deliver the food? Is there a stage for the DJ or the band? A dance floor? Is there a wardrobe for people to leave their coats?

One week before

    Prepare a playlist: If you don’t have a DJ and are taking care of the music yourself, now’s the time to put together a playlist for the party.

    Confirm guests: Follow up with those who have not yet RSVP’d to make sure they do. Send reminders to those who have confirmed to get them pumped up for the party.

    Safety check: Make sure all the safety equipment is in place and working fine. Is there a clearly visible fire escape plan? Are all the necessary inspections carried out?

One day before

    Prepare the venue: Arrange the furniture, make sure wireless Internet is working fine, and test the sound equipment. Put up balloons and other party decorations.

    Buy perishables: Stock up on last-minute perishables like fruit, ice, and so on.

    Do a dry run: If you can, do a run-through of the day with the vendors and your team to make sure everyone knows exactly what to do during the party.

On the day

    Setup: Set the tables, put out the welcome drinks, do a final sound check, and generally take care of getting all the last-minute things in place.

    Catering: Let in the catering crew and make sure they have all they need to start preparing and serving food.

    Door management: Make sure you have someone manning the doors to greet the guests, scan tickets, keep track of the guest list, take people’s coats, serve the welcome drinks, etc.

    Photo & video: Have someone on your team (or a professional) documenting the party by taking photos and capturing memorable videos to share with the guests afterwards.

After the party is over

    Cleanup: Have your team disassemble all the equipment, put the furniture back in its place, take down the decorations, and clean the venue.

    Thank yous: Send out thank you messages to the venue providers, your vendors, and - of course - your party guests. Make sure to share the photos and videos of the event on social media and directly with your guests.

    Guest survey: If you’re thinking of planning another party, it’s a great idea to ask your guests some questions about what they thought. Check out our article on key follow-up questions to include.

    Finances: Track what you’ve spent along with any potential revenue from ticket sales, door fees, and so on.


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