The Definitive Party Planning Checklist
Here at Goodly, we love a good party! And whether you're throwing a birthday party for your best friend, getting a special crowd together as a show of support, hosting a grand get-together for the graduate in the family or setting up a celebration for your employees because they hit their sales goals ... at the end of the day, it’s all about bringing people together and having a good time! So keep this in mind as we navigate through the process if you want to improve your party as much as make it easier on yourself!
Simple enough, right? We’re sure that you can do that, and maybe even do a little more to really hit the mark if you put your mind to it. The question is: what? From amplifying the excitement with a surprise gift box for your special someone to improving the special occasion’s atmosphere with sparkly lighting, there’s a ton you can do! So from turning your idea into an actual initiative to setting the stage before the show, you’ll want to consider the following steps and stages you’ll need to get through to shape your party to perfection!
COUNTDOWN TO PARTY: MONTHS | GOING FROM IDEA TO INITIATIVE
Going from idea to initiative means preparing a proper plan. We’ve made it as straightforward and simple as possible for you to ensure that your idea gets off the ground. So, step by step, complete the following!
WHAT/WHY? CHOOSE A THEME
Picking a theme for your party is important when it comes to creating an atmosphere, menu, playlist and much more, as keeping all of these details cohesive will help your attendees feel comfortable, engaged and enjoying the party. If you’re having a hard time thinking of a fun theme, you can always turn to the world around you for inspiration! Whether that be the season around you, the celebrated person’s standout preferences or even the advice of attendees! After all, who better to turn to than the people that the party is for!
WHEN? SAVE THE DATE AND TIME
Their birthday may land on spring break — but that doesn’t mean that their party has to land on spring break when everybody is busy or bound to another place on vacation! Picking an appropriate date and time for your event will ensure that you get the biggest and most engaged turnout possible. In order to accommodate as many of your guests as possible (and potentially to accommodate the venue and work with their availability), you may want to consider setting some backup dates or times that could work to help you figure out the best schedule.
WHERE? IDENTIFY EVENT VENUES
There's nothing wrong with hosting your party at home, in the office or at the park! If this is your plan, then you’re pretty much done with this step! If you ARE renting a venue, though, you’ll want to book it now! Along with booking it, you’ll have a far easier time planning your party if you take this time to also figure out:
- if the venue has preferred vendors
- if and where deliveries can be made
- when you will be allowed to enter the venue for setting it up
- when the hard “out” time is on the night of the party
- if you will be able to pick up any leftover items the next day
- contact information for the venue manager
WHO? MAKE A GUEST LIST
If you’re getting professional party planning assistance, or if you ARE the professional party planning assistance for the event, you’ll want strict guest list numbers — or, at very least, caps. With that in mind, we like to keep our guest lists long here at Goodly! This is partially thanks to the fact that we love a good time and there are so many great people to share it with, and partially because not all invitees will become attendees and actually come to the party!
COUNTDOWN TO PARTY: WEEKS-MONTHS | GETTING IT ALL TOGETHER
With all of your major decisions made, it’s time to start dreaming of the details and filling in the gaps with fun things like goodie bags and gift boxes! As you begin doing things and getting your party pieces all perfect, consider the idea of creating and beginning to share a party hashtag!Can’t Get a Gift Together in Time? Our Curated Gift Boxes Have Got You Covered!
Invitations may not be as inspired as they once were thanks to e-vites and other internet assistance — but even if you’re all about going green and sending paperless invitations, they should still be inspired! After all, an invitation is a reflection of the party itself! To make sure they’re as exciting and enticing as your soon-to-be party, consider incorporating your theme into the aesthetic as much as possible and being as personal as possible when addressing them!
FIGURE OUT FOOD AND BEVERAGE
If you’re opting for catering services when it comes to food, you’ll want to not only figure out your menu, but actually book your caterer at this point! Whether you cater the food or you're crafting it yourself, though, you'll want to consider:
- Serving supplies will include everything needed to indulge in the food, drink and dessert, from cheap chafing trays and tongs to special cake cutting sets and cups. You’re likely to overlook a lot of small but essential items in this category (for instance, fancy picks for Caprese skewers), so be sure to make a list and check it twice as you shop!
- Snacks are all important no matter what type of party you're planning. So from bags of chips for children's birthday parties to fancy breads and dips for the gathering of friends that you haven't seen in forever — if you want them to have fun, don’t make them fast before they feast!
- Food can be tricky to figure out, so if you opt against catering, you'll want to take this time to find recipes for food that can be prepared in advance and (if needed) frozen. Once you do, you’ll want to assemble your ingredients as far in advance as possible.
- Dessert is one of the most essential and exciting parts of a party menu! For most occasions, the desired dessert will traditionally be a cake, but there are no rules here (aside from allergies of course!). So whether you lay out a crazy dessert table filled with cookies, cannolis, bars and other baked goods, you create a sophisticated and sweet candy bar, you spread a make-your-own sundae station, you purchase a perfect cake or you prepare one yourself, you should probably have candles and a lighter at the ready!
- Beverages should boast variety because you want them to find something that they like and stay hydrated! Along with thirst-quenching juices, pops, sparkling waters and possibly a stocked bar, having a signature drink is always sure to excite and impress your guests! Try to base the color, flavor or name of it on your event. If your signature drink is alcoholic, it’s always a good idea to offer a non-alcoholic version of it as well! The most important thing of all when it comes to your beverage station, though, is not to forget the ice!
ENVISION AN ENVIRONMENT PT. 1: DREAM OF DECORATIONS
Whether you’ve chosen to rent a venue or rage in your own home, you won't want it to FEEL like the venue or like your home. You’ll want it to feel extra special, and decorations will do the trick! This will really depend on the venue and occasion, but no matter what, you can count on perfect tablecloths, lights, flowers and more that have been catered to the occasion, event or season! If you’re a distinguished or determined DIYer, this is also your time to order or shop for any needed supplies and get assembling! Lighting in particular is paramount to creating the perfect atmosphere, so don’t forget to add themed string lights, make the path safe with solar lights, set decorative candles in subtle colors as centerpieces on the tables or light up the room with a large accent light!
ENVISION AN ENVIRONMENT PT. 2: FIGURE OUT FURNITURE
If you're hosting at home, make sure you know where to move your furniture if needed to create an open (and safe) environment to enjoy, and what valuables and breakables need to be tucked away. If you’ve rented a venue, now is the time to start locking down furniture rentals. Just make sure to check with your venue first to make sure that they don't already have the items you need, and that they don't have their own vendors. Along with common pieces like chairs and tables (for sitting at AND for serving on), help your guests chill if the party is outdoors by making sure they’re not actually freezing and adding an outdoor heater to the atmosphere!
ENVISION AN ENVIRONMENT PT. 3: ADD LIFE
Whether it’s amped-up to match the atmosphere or light and airy to create it, the soundtrack to your party should be addressed early — as should any other entertainment! So if you’re opting for outside services when it comes to entertainment, you’ll want to not only figure it out but actually book it at this point as well!
GET THE PERFECT GIFTS AND GOODIE BAGS!
Gifts for your guests are crucial if you want to keep their attention, keep their energy up, create positive memories and send them off on an uplifting note! This can be something as simple as creating and assembling little paper treat boxes with handwritten thank you notes for attendees or something as significant as purchasing a surprise gift for the person of the hour’s party. Luckily, we’re gifting specialists here at Goodly and know what it takes to nail the perfect gift for any occasion. When it comes to picking the perfect one, though, you may want to look at the occasion itself for inspiration!
- Congratulatory and ceremonious occasions should have you looking for singular items that are special and will be significant to your giftee. These types of gifts are often ones that hold sentimental value for the giftee far into the future, thanks to how meaningful they were, and thanks to the memories that are attached.
- Celebratory occasions call for creative, fun and symbolic gifts! Thanks to the versatility and sheer amount of amazing gift options that exist for celebratory occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, combinations and curated gift boxes are always recommended — especially curated gift boxes, as they are easy and affordable for you and exciting for the person getting them!
- Solemn occasions should be respected in every sense, which includes the selection of gifts. And while you may want to make your sympathy gift as extravagant and special as possible, you’ll want to remember what sort of head state your giftee is in. So keep your gifts simple and understand that it’s not about the gift itself, but instead the support that it symbolizes.
- Party favors should metaphorically pop out of the bag at giftees and excite them instantly! You can easily achieve this effect with affordable items like those found under our $20 and under filter, but if you want to step it up a notch, why not try making your goodie bags even more gorgeous by filling unique tote bags that match the occasion or event with goodies!
- Surprises are always sought-after, and second-to-none in the surprise category are gifts! So whether you’re throwing a surprise party for a special family member or you’re spoiling your spouse with a spontaneous show of love, surprise gift boxes are for anyone awesome who likes a little bit of excitement in their life!
COUNTDOWN TO PARTY: DAYS | SETTING THE STAGE
It's all about setting the stage now for your party. Along with revisiting any unfinished steps from above — like actually arranging or setting up your furniture for the party (making sure that guests can move easily from one part of the venue to another), tucking away precious items and valuables, dolling the place up with your decorations, stocking the bar and storing as much finished food from your menu as possible — you’ll want to:
GET YOUR FINAL HEAD COUNT
Follow up on RSVPs and relay your final guest list to your venue, caterers, party helpers or anyone otherwise who should know these numbers.
HELP GET YOUR GUESTS THERE
- Direct guests towards your party venue with signs or markers of some sort. While this can be done easily with simple signage, the more event-inspired your signs and markers are, the better! Because you’ll normally be attaching your markers to road and street signs, we recommend things that are equally nonintrusive and eye-catching like balloons for birthday parties or grand faux flowers for garden parties! No matter what, though, don’t be afraid to get extra creative as it will only serve to amp your guests up more and more before they even arrive!
- Clearly mark parking areas to avoid giving your guests any anxiety, getting their vehicles blocked in or damaged due to overcrowding and under-organization and (especially if you're using a public venue) to avoid causing any issues with other non-party people who work, live or are shopping in the area.
PREPARE TIP ENVELOPES FOR PARTY STAFF
Other than pulling some cash out of your bank account, this step is as straightforward and simple as it sounds! With that said, simply preparing these tip envelopes in advance will save you from any last minute overspending that you can't afford, save you from forgetting to give them their tip in amongst all the chaos and will save you the time spent running for your wallet and searching for a suitable tip — not to mention figuring out how much that suitable tip should be!
NOTIFY THE NEIGHBORS
While this step isn’t essential, it IS always appreciated and effective — not only for making sure that your party doesn’t get shut down but for forming nice relationships with your neighbors as well!
The day is finally here! You’ve invested more than a bit of time and effort into this event to ensure it all goes smoothly… And now? It’s time to enjoy it! Don’t hesitate to embrace the ambiance and engage your attendees, because it's for their sake as much as yours. So greet them as they arrive and get into the event!
And cheers from us here at Goodly for a great job done!