So, you need to plan a party, but you have no idea how or where to start. Right? Don’t worry I am here to help you. I’m breaking down all the aspects of planning a party in a series of posts for you. Let me guide you on how to plan a party.
Please allow me to give you a quick understanding of my background in party planning. I have loved planning parties since I was in high school. I started hosting an annual Christmas dinner party at the age of 16. In college I studied Event Planning and Music Business Management in Nashville, TN. And while in college, I interned for an event planner who planned events for the music industry. After college, I worked in different positions from meeting planning to event planning jobs and still enjoyed hosting my own parties for my friends.
Party planning is in my blood. I love it and now I want to help others feel more confident planning their own parties. Therefore, I’m going to take you step by step through planning your own party.
(This post may contain affiliate links. That means that, if you click on a link, and make a purchase, I might get a commission from the sale, at no added cost to you.)
How do I Plan a Party?
There are many aspects of a party. You will need to decide on the theme, secure a location, create a guest list, plan the menu, food and drinks, create a playlist, plan games and entertainment for your guests, select decorations, set up the food, plan the layout for the party, prepare your house, follow a budget, shop…. Yes this is a lot but as I promised, I am here to help you learn how to plan a party. So, take a deep breath and let’s get started.
Today we will start with why and when you are having this party and selecting the theme.
Why are you having this party?
Are you hosting a birthday party for someone? Celebrating a special occasion? Just want to have friends over? You know why… so let’s continue on….
Select Your Party Date and Time
You may already have a date in mind. For birthdays, anniversaries, showers and other occasions like this you’ll have an idea of when you need to host the party. If you are planning a party for a reason that is not associated with a specific date, now is the time to select the date of the party.
You will also want to decide on the time of day to have the party. You will need this for the invitations and for selecting the best menu for your party.
Pro Tip for Time of Day and Menu:
Start times will determine the type of menu the guests will expect.
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM – Brunch or Lunch will be served
2:00-4:00 PM – Snacks and cake, if the party is expected to only last a couple hours
5:00-6:00 PM – Dinner will be served
7:00 PM or later – You could serve appetizers, snacks and desserts. This is past the dinner hour so you do not need to serve a full meal
When possible, try to start planning your party at least 4-6 out for less stress on your part. Yes, a party can be planned quickly when needed, but if you have the time, allow 4-6 weeks from beginning planning stages to the party date. This gives you ample time to invite guests and organize everything.
Need help with how much food to serve? Get your Free How Much Food to Serve Chart here
For more menu tips visit : 6 Party Food Planning Tips
How to Plan a Theme for Your Party
What will be the theme of this party? Personally, I find having a theme really helps bring the party to life AND it helps make it easier to plan all the other parts of the party.
There are endless possibilities of theme ideas. You can have anything from a dinosaur birthday party to a Caribbean themed retirement party.
Think about the answers to these questions to help decide on a party theme…
- What is a hobby/interest of the guest of honor(s)? (Trains, fast cars, golf, poker)
- Would a decade party be appropriate for this party? Is it someone’s fiftieth party? (You could host a 50’s themed diner party or a 1950’s themed decade party)
- Does the guest of honor love a certain person or character? (Princesses, superheroes, Elvis, Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, a specific athlete)
- Would the guest of honor enjoy a little pampering? (Spa party, High Tea)
- Is it a couples party? (Vintage Hollywood couples, Masquerade party)
- Are you celebrating a holiday? That is the theme itself. Or maybe you want to take a spin off of a basic Christmas party and do a Grinch themed Christmas Party. For Halloween host a It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Halloween party or for adults host an Edgar Allen Poe themed party.
These are just some questions and options to consider to help you decide on the theme for your party.
Still not sure about a theme idea? Click here for a list of over 50 theme ideas.
Plan Your Party Theme Brainstorm
Once you have your theme, brainstorm some things you think of right away that are related to your selected theme. Use your five senses to imagine the theme. This brainstorm will help you through the rest of planning your party. Grab a piece of scrap paper, set a timer for 5 minutes and just write down everything that pops into your mind. Don’t exclude anything, write it all down. Now keep this list.
My Example of How to Plan a Party
For the purpose of walking you through the steps of how to plan a party, I will write about how to plan a Viva Las Vegas Game Night.
I would love to get some friends together to have a relaxing night to hang out, play games, enjoy some cocktails and laugh. Vegas is ALL about games and entertainment so this is a fitting theme for a game night.
My 5-minute brainstorm:
When I think of Vegas and a Game Night I think of the following….
This will be my list to help me with future planning of this party.
The First 3 Steps of How to Plan A Party
These are just the first two steps planning your party.
- Deciding why you are having this party
- Selecting the party date and time
- Choosing a theme that will best fit the type of party you are hosting
The “why” is the easiest part. You obviously have in mind why you want to host this party and if there is a guest of honor you are celebrating.
You will need to select the date and time to plan many of the details for the party.
Selecting a theme may seem like a challenge, at first. Maybe you can’t think of what to do for a theme. Are you worried you won’t have ideas for that theme? Don’t worry about that. We will get everything together step by step. This is just the starting point. And once you have the theme selected everything else will come together.
I have used themes for all my parties. They really help narrow down the other areas.
Think of this, themes are really everywhere. Maybe it’s not called a theme, but it’s something that brings everything together.For example, teaching, it’s completely different from a party, right? Nope, when you teach, you have a theme, a subject, that you are focusing on for that period.
Marketing, when you are marketing something, you focus on a specific aspect of a product.
Choosing a theme for a party just brings a focus to the party. The biggest problem now may be that you have so many ideas for themes that you have to select just a single theme.
So take a few minutes, and consider the questions above to help you select the best theme for your party. Then remember to take 5 minutes and brainstorm everything you can about your chosen theme.
Once you have completed that, come back and check out Part 2 – Planning Your Party Location, Guest List and Invitations
Need a party checklist? Get your free copy of my Pre-Party Checklist to help you plan out your party.