I initially started this blog as a place for sharing the details of all the parties that we threw, past, present and future, but over time, it went into a more general lifestyle type blog. It’s been a long time since I planned any sort of event. The last was my son’s 16th birthday and before that, my niece’s 2nd birthday party back in October (and which I am yet to still blog about!)
I truly love to plan a party – it doesn’t matter if it’s just a small one for the family, or a bigger one for a very special occasion, if it can be celebrated, I’ll be party planning it!
I’ve put together 10 steps that I think are of importance to a party – no matter what the size, and I hope that you find them helpful!
10 Steps For Perfect Party Planning
Before anything, you need to work out and set your budget. It doesn’t matter if it’s £20, £200, £2000 or £20000, how much money you have to spend on your party will dictate all the other things that you want to do. If the party is in the future, you can set yourself targets each month to save towards a larger sum. I’ve planned parties for myself, including our wedding, which had a healthy budget, as well as ones for my sister where the budget has been small (under £50) and for a friend, where the budget was generous at £500-£600. Having a budget, which you should stick to of course, will help keep your spending on track!
The number of guests that you [potentially] have at your party may be dependant on the initial budget that you set, and, how much you can spend across the different elements of the party, which I will be discussing below. You need to know how many guests you’ll be having as this will help you to pick an appropriately sized venue, and how many to cater for – two things that often take up the largest part of any party budget.
If you have just a few people coming to your party, you may well be able to have it at home or in the garden. However, you may have to consider hiring a venue to accommodate larger numbers. I researched lots of venues for our wedding, our engagement party and my husband’s 40th birthday party, and wish I had access to a site like VenueFinder back then, it may have alleviated the stress of trying to find a perfect venue! From hotels, to banqueting halls, to historic houses and more unusual venues, it’s a good place to start looking.
When contacting a venue, make sure to find out how many people it can accommodate, rules on catering (can you provide your own or do you have to hire an approved caterer?), when can you get into the venue (to decorate/set up), is there a bar or can you provide your own drink. If you can, is there a corkage fee? What time do you have to vacate the venue, and what do you do with the rubbish created. Write down all the questions you can think of so you have these ready to ask.
I find it easiest to plan a party when I can work to a theme – it could be something as simple as a colour (like the orange and yellow party I planned for my friend), it could be an era (like my 1950s At The Hop 35th birthday party), a character (for a children’s party – I’ll be sharing the Peppa Pig party I threw for my niece very soon!), or something seasonal – like Halloween (of course I’m going to mention that!) There are hundreds of different themes you can choose – start writing them down, and you’ll soon find a favourite! And of course, if you don’t want to have a theme… don’t!
A party isn’t a party without some decorations – be they as simple as balloons or flowers, or something a lot more elaborate. You could make your own, as I often do, to save costs, re-use old decorations (ditto), or look at creative ways to use things you already have. How you decorate, may well be dependent on your theme – get as creative as you like!
Food + Drink
This is by far the one element of a party that takes up the most of your budget, (after a venue). Once again, you can do it yourself, which can be stressful, or you could hire caterers, or buy food ready made and dish up onto pretty platters. Think about your theme (if you have one), what sort of food and drink suit the occasion? How many people are you catering for? Are you standing or sitting? Could it be little canapes and nibbles with cocktails? Is it bring your own booze? A buffet? Completely themed with cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks for a 70s party?
Are you a dab hand at making a cake? Do you know someone who makes them? These are two ways to save a little money. Supermarkets these days sell nice cakes, and some even sell plain white ones which you could decorate yourself.
Entertainment will depend on the theme, the ages of the guests, the style of party you are going for. Is it a disco with a DJ you are after? Or will some tunes on an MP3 player do? Do you need a children’s entertainer? Will there be games?
I love making invitations for any party I throw. I don’t care how small it is, I’ll make an invitation! You need the important things on there: when, where and how to RSVP, along with any special instructions like BYOB or fancy dress.
When the party is over, you want to say thank you to your guests – this might be a party bag for the kids at a children’s party, or a party favour for the grown ups. And if it’s a party where gifts are given, don’t forget to send out some thank you notes to show your appreciation!