Do you get stressed out trying to decide who to invite to your party or where to host the party? Maybe you’re on a budget and you need to limit the amount of people you invite. Or maybe you’re planning to invite several people and you just don’t have the room at your house. In part 2 of the How to Plan a Party Series we will tackle the next part of planning your party…choosing your party location, selecting your guest list and creating the invitations.
We are continuing today with planning 4-6 weeks out from the event date. If you haven’t selected your date yet, now is the time to do this.
Selecting Your Party Location
Location! Location! Location!” We hear this all the time, but usually in reference to a business. But it’s just as important for your party. You need to make sure the location you select can easily accommodate everyone you plan to invite. And, the location is capable of having a solid backup plan in case of bad weather.
The big question here is are you going to host the party at your home or at a venue, such as a restaurant or banquet hall? .
If you are planning to host your party at home, fantastic. More work will come later to help you set up your home for the party. For now, you can move ahead to planning your guest list.
If you are going to host this party at an offsite location, you have some work to do now. Remember, using a venue will be much more expensive than hosting at your home.
Here are the three steps you will need to follow to plan your party off site.
- Set your budget for the party
- Make a list of your top 3-5 places you would like to host the party (Your top location may be out of your budget or may already be booked)
- Call the locations and ask the following questions.
- Ask if they have availability for your party date
- How many guests can the room hold comfortably?
- How many tables and chairs can they provide?
- Is there a minimum number of guests required or minimum food and beverage total required?
- What time would you have access to the room for set up? What time do you need to be out of the room, including clean up time?
- If needed, is there an elevator?
- Can you decorate the room? What restrictions do they have for decorations?
- If serving cake, ask if you can bring your own cake/dessert or if you need to purchase it from them
- Is there a down payment? How much? Will this be used towards the room rental fee?
- By what date do they need a final head count?
- Do they have food and drink packages? If so, ask them to send you a copy of their package menu selections.
- If it seems like a good fit for your party, ask when you can come in during the week to look at the location and sign the contract.
Now that the location is secure, it’s time to invite your guests.
Planning Your Party Guest List
Making the guest list can take more thought that you expected. I know when we were planning my son’s first birthday, the list kept growing of all these amazing people in our lives that we wanted to be there to celebrate with us. But the reality was, our house was just not big enough for everyone. His birthday is in the winter so we could not host the party outside. We also didn’t have the budget to feed 100 people.
After many reviews of the list, we came down to a still rather large list, but of that list I could pinpoint who was mostly likely to attend. I knew we would have approximately 40 people at our house for his party. Even though we invited nearly 70. (Yes this was the narrowed down list.)
Therefore, when you begin to make your list for the party, think of how many people would fit into your house or at the location you rented.
Ask yourself some questions about who to invite
- Is this a birthday party for a child? Will you invite his or her school friends? Or is this a party for family and family friends, no classmates?
- If this is an adult birthday party, are children welcome?
- Are you hosting a bridal or baby shower, is this party for friends of the guest of honor or only for family members?
- If you’re thinking of having an outdoor party, if your backup plan for bad weather is everyone can come into your house, ask yourself can the whole guest list fit into your house?
- Maybe you have many groups of friends, will inviting everyone be best? Or is it better to host a couple smaller parties so you can interact with everyone more easily?
Have in mind who you want to share this occasion with and start a list. You can always cross people off after you have written everyone down. Consider the number of people you can entertain comfortably. You don’t want to be overwhelmed. And, you need a place for everyone to be able to sit or stand and mingle comfortably.
Also, don’t let yourself head down some rabbit hole. By that I mean when you make your list don’t start thinking “well, if I invite them I will also need to invite these people because they are friends.” Invite who YOU want there, NOT who your friends may want or expect there.
For my party example….
Viva Las Vegas Game Night Guest List
When I think about planning the party guest list, I know I want to invite our friends who enjoy playing games. I also want this to be an adults only party. Many of our friends have children, including us, but I would like an evening of playing games, having cocktails and talking without children running around. Therefore, I need to make that clear to my friends in the invitation AND give them enough time to find a babysitter.
I also want to invite people who already know each other pretty well so we don’t need to spend time making introductions and having the party feel split between groups of people.
Because this is a game night, I want to keep my guest list limited to 8-10 people. This will allow us to have teams for some games and fit comfortably into our living room.
However, if I wanted to have a large group of people for a game night, I would have to set up the house so guests could move from one game to another easily and it wouldn’t require any team activities. For example, I could do a Viva Las Vegas game night that had a poker table, a roulette table, black jack and a craps table. This set up would accommodate more people and guests could easily leave or join a game. This type of game night would also require more people to help so I could have people running the games at each table.
Now that you have your guest list, it is time to invite your guests.
There are many ways you can invite people these days. You can create a private Facebook event, send out an evite, text, or the good ol’ fashion way of actually sending out invitations.
For birthday parties, showers and special occasions I like to send out regular invitations in the mail. It is always nice to receive something other than bills and junk mail in your mailbox. It’s also a good idea to send invitations because guests can put it on their fridge or pin it to a bulletin board so that they have a reminder.
Sending invites via texts, Facebook events and emails can easily get lost with everything else coming at a person electronically.
If you are hosting a popular themed party, such as Avengers or Mickey Mouse you will easily be able to find these themed invitations at party stores or online.
However, for more unique parties you will need to design your own theme invitations. There are many sites to create your own invitation. You can use photo developing sites like Shutterfly to create your invitations. You could also use vistaprint or Canva. There are many available sites to use that will allow you to create a themed invitation.
Notice the wording “theme invitation”. Remember the theme you decided on for the party? Now is the time to start incorporating the theme into your planning. Pull out your brainstorming list for this party and start to create you invitation using some of your ideas.
Be sure to include specifics in your invitations:
- Why are you planning your party? Is there a Guest of Honor? Example: Come Celebrate Bob’s Birthday!
- Where? Include name of location and address
- When? Date AND Time
- What can the guests expect? Dinner and cake will be provided
- Request an RSVP Regrets Only or RSVP by a specific date (at least 1 week prior to party date) and give details how to RSVP – include phone number or email depending how you want them o RSVP
- Any other special requests
This is my invitation for my Viva Las Vegas game night.
Be sure to send your invitations out at least 4 weeks prior to the event. Honestly, I prefer to send out invitations at least 5 weeks in advance.
Get Planning and Creating Your Party!
OK, it’s time to get started choosing your location and inviting you guests. Remember to do these steps 4-6 weeks out from the date of your party.
- Decided on your location – call a venue if needed, ASAP
- Make your guest list
- Create your theme invitations and send them out
Don’t miss the next part of this How to Plan a Party Series – Decorating for Your Party.
PS I would love to hear what theme you selected, please comment below and let me know what theme you are planning and any brainstorming ideas you would like to share.
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