The key to successfully throwing a well-planned party or special event has much to do with organizing, delegating and following through on action items. The more attendees involved, the more crucial good planning is. As with preparing a meal, timing is everything. That said, putting together a timeline checklist for your event will help you make sure all your work is properly coordinated.
To start, I make lists of tasks that can be done well in advance and those for the day of the party. Here is my timeline planner below. Make the needed modifications according to your menu, shopping lists, and other budgeted items.
FOUR WEEKS BEFORE
- Put together your guest list and gather addresses and phone numbers
- Order or make invitations
- Plan your menu
- Finalize the space layout and decorations
- Using Shopping List #1 purchase decorations, paper goods, and other supplies, non- perishable foods and drinks
- Contact those who will help with the party
- Address and mail your invitations
- Write a list of your background and dance music (stick with the theme of your party).
- Remember to include the song title, artist, band and year of release
THREE WEEKS BEFORE
- Confirm any friends, family, and hired service people working for the party
- Telephone guests who have not responded to your invitations so you can get a definite guest count for food and space requirements.
- Put together a music CD of background, mood or dance music
- Make needed preparations for out of town guests such as guest rooms, hotel reservations.
- Pick out what you plan to wear at the party and have it cleaned.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE
- See that table linen is clean and ready to go. Put the linens under a bright light for inspection.
- Decide on tableware and serving items
- Wash less all serving or table items.
- Get locks put on your bedroom closet or lock the bedroom door itself. Don’t hesitate to secure all valuables.
THREE DAYS BEFORE
- Clean your house if the party is at home or your plan to have out-of-town guests stop by before or after the party
- Make sure all appliances that you’ll be using work properly.
- Using Shopping List #2 shop for any last-minute food or supplies
- Shop for bulk items and less perishable foods
- Touch base with contracted services
- Assign specific tasks to your committee members/volunteers
- Make preparations for cleaning up, returning equipment, etc.
- Make some party foods and freeze them.
TWO DAYS AHEAD
- Contact your decorating team
- Begin decorating your home or party facility
- There is plenty of time to get those items you may have forgotten
ONE DAY AHEAD
- Using Shopping List #3 shop for perishable and last minute items.
- Move furniture and put away delicate items that could suffer damage.
- Make cold desserts and dishes that can be refrigerated overnight.
- Set up tables
DAY OF PARTY
- Lock up all your breakable and valuable possessions
- Finalize the decorations and place settings
- Call all help together and give motivational instructions
- Set up an area in or near the kitchen for returning used dishes and waste
- Clear dishwasher for use as needed
- Chill all cold beverages
- 3-4 hours before event start cooking.
TWO HOURS BEFORE EVENT
- Turn on relaxing upbeat music
- Light a candle and take a relaxing bath or hand shower.
- Enjoy the moment.
- Put out your clothes and shoes
- Fill the home or facility with natural scented fragrances if desired
ONE HOUR BEFORE
- Mix the punch and put out the punch bowl, drinking glasses and napkins
- Set out cheeses and non-perishable appetizers and snacks
- Prepare to greet your guests as each arrives
- Point out the areas of your home or facilities they can help themselves to such as the coat room, closets, guest room, bathroom or restroom, finished basement, etc.
- Serve drinks on the top of the hour that your party is scheduled to begin
- Once all are served drinks formally welcome all to the event highlighting the theme of your party
- While conversing with groups present some fun icebreakers
- Turn up the music a few notches and encourage mingling
- Check on cooked items
- A few minutes later invite guests to be seated in the dining area
- Serve dinner
After Dinner Games
- Have each guest pull out a slip and answer the "Getting To Know You" question that reveals something special about them.
- "How I Met You" - Tell a short story about how you met each guest.
- "Something You Always Wanted To Try"- Name something you always wanted to try like hang-gliding, deep sea diving or parachuting.
- After serving dessert serve a warm beverage like coffee and/or tea
- Allow all to continue to mingle.
- Now would be a good time to introduce the household pet.
- Thank those who cooked and served dinner or made the dessert.
AN HOUR LATER
- To those who are preparing to leave thank each guest for coming.
- Give each departing guest a token of the occasion such as a small bag of cookies or cupcake.
- As guests leave escort them to the door and see them off in good cheer.
Find this list helpful? Take the next step. Read these great party planning guide titles by Mark A. Askew to plan the perfect party:
1. Fimark's Party Planner eBook and Spreadsheet Planner
2. Fimark's Family Reunion Planner eBook and Spreadsheet Planner
3. Great Family Gathering Books:
Fimark's Family Reunion Planner
Most of all, enjoy the party!
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