5 Ways to Simplify Party Planning

From Christa Graham at SweetOliviaCelebrations.com

So many families today are opting to have parties at a venue rather than in the home. There are several reasons for this with time, money, and the hassle of it all being at the forefront. Hey, I understand! I’ve even done this myself in certain situations, but I really wish it would stop being the norm! It is so special for kids to have friends and family in their home for the sole purpose of celebrating their life! It is really comforting to curl up on your couch with your best friends and a bottle of wine after a dinner party. Gatherings of family and friends allow us to connect in ways we might not have before and doing this in your personal space elevates this connection to a whole new level. Planning these get-togethers doesn’t have to be stressful. It surely doesn’t have to be complicated! With a few tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to becoming an amazing hostess.

1. Plan & shop early.

Time is your best friend when planning a party. Give yourself four to six weeks before the party to start planning details such as:

  • What date and time?
  • Will there be a theme?
  • Will you provide entertainment and/or games?
  • How will you invite people?
  • Who will you invite?
  • What food & drink will you serve?
  • What ‘thank you’ gift or party favor will you send home with your guests?

With a general idea of the supplies you need, you can start shopping early. Add a few items to your grocery list each week leading up to the party.

2. Use to-do lists.

I love a good to-do list! Take out a blank sheet of paper and make three lists: Week of, Day before, and Day of. The contents of each list will vary depending on the type of party you are hosting, but here are a few ideas of what to include:

For the "week of" list, write down things you can quickly do each evening after work. Things like: Move party items to areas they will be used in, order balloons from party store, send reminders to party guests, decorate a little each day, and assemble party favors. Each night of the week leading up to the party, cross a couple things off your list.

Things to include on the day before list: Prepare any food that can be made ahead, set up the buffet table and map out where each dish will go, finish decorating, pick up odds & ends around the house, and set up tables & chairs.

Your goal is to get as much preparation as possible done before party day. This will allow you to actually enjoy the party, instead of being exhausted from rushing around all morning. So, the day of to-do list shouldn’t have too many items on it. You might need to: Pick up the cake & balloons (delegate this, if possible!), prepare any foods not completed yesterday, put food into serving dishes, and wipe down the kitchen & bathrooms.

3. Don’t make cleaning complicated.

So many women are overachievers, and that is okay. But, I don’t want planning this party to stress you out. Parties are meant to be fun! When it comes to cleaning for company, do not let yourself get carried away and start moving all your furniture to vacuum underneath!

Here is what I want you to clean:

  • If you have cold weather, clear out a coat closet or other space where your guests can store their coats.
  • Wipe off any surfaces people may use to eat on like dining tables, card tables, coffee tables, etc.
  • Wipe down your kitchen counters after you finish preparing party food.
  • Store any dirty dishes in the dishwasher or cabinet (you can clean those later!)
  • Sweep the kitchen floor.
  • Only vacuum or sweep areas that will be accessible to your guests!
  • Just before party time, wipe down the bathroom sink & toilet. Don’t get lost in scrubbing your shower top to bottom. Close the shower curtain and be done.

4. Follow up with your guests.

The biggest worry most people have about party planning is whether people will actually come to your party or not. Most people just don’t RSVP anymore and it is frustrating! So, I want you to take an active role and follow up with your invited guests. If someone hasn’t answered your invitation by a week before the party, reach out to them and ask if they plan to attend. Chances are, they simply forgot and they will be glad for the reminder!

5. Ask for help. (And accept help when it’s offered!)

When someone shows up early and asks “Can I do anything?” Look at your ‘day of to-do list’ and see if there is a task you can delegate. Obviously, I wouldn’t have a guest wipe down my toilets, but they can move food from the kitchen to the dining table or set up any last-minute decorations. Once you get your party planning routine down to a science, there probably won’t be anything for the guest to do but grab a drink and enjoy themselves!

These strategies can be applied to any at-home party or get-together from birthday parties and family barbeques to dinner parties and holiday celebrations. My hope is that we all get back to gathering in each other’s homes to celebrate the lives and friendships of those we love! Let’s get over the fear that our home isn’t clean enough or the excuse that it takes too much time to entertain. So, what party are you going to plan first?