Party Planning Checklist Article - Allrecipes.com
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Party Planning Checklist

This handy guide organizes a typical party planning timeline--tweak it to suit your event.




How to Use This Guide

  • Start at four weeks ahead if your party falls around major holidays or if you need equipment rentals.
  • Start at two weeks if your plans are more casual.
  • You can even start at one week or less if you're having your pals over for potluck. Just review the list to see if there's anything you should include on your simplified plan.
  • Note: not everything on this list will relate to your particular party. Polish the silver? Are you kidding me? But it might be nice to remind yourself to charge up your camera and buy ice.


    Four Weeks Ahead

    • Create a budget.
    • Write a guest list.
    • Choose a location.
    • Decide on a menu: appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, desserts, beverages.
    • Send invitations (four weeks ahead for major holidays).
    • If you're cooking, make as much as you can ahead of time to minimize kitchen time on party day. Make a timeline for cooking, freezing, thawing, reheating, etc.
    • If it's potluck, assign the dishes.
    • Birthday party? Order the cake if you're not baking it yourself.
    • Need Rentals? Book 'em: plates, cups, glassware, coffee urns, tables, chairs, table linens, serving pieces, etc. (It's especially important to book early for busy holiday seasons.) Arrange for early delivery on party day.
    • Large group? Hire help for kitchen, serving, or bartending.


      Two Weeks Ahead

      • Follow the checklist for Four Weeks Ahead
      • Assess serving pieces and utensils if you're not renting.
      • Assemble party favors, if desired.
      • Start compiling party music, games, and other entertainment.


        One Week Ahead

        • Review menu preparation timeline: are you on target with make-ahead dishes?
        • Purchase non-perishable food items and candles, firewood, etc.
        • Finalize RSVPs.


          Two Days Ahead

          • Clean house.
          • Purchase perishables such as meat, dairy, and produce.
          • Make sure camera is charged and ready.
          • Wash wine glasses and other glassware if you're not renting.
          • Polish silver. (Optional, of course.)


            One Day Ahead

            • Clean and press table linens if you're using your own. Tip: To prevent creases, drape pressed linens on the table instead of folding them.
            • Set table, decorate buffet, set up the bar.
            • Purchase and arrange flowers and/or decorations.


              Party Day

              • Purchase fresh seafood.
              • Buy party ice.
              • Take delivery of rented equipment.
              • Chill beer and wine (if necessary), make punch.
              • Garnish party platters with fresh herbs, edible flowers, and fruit.
              • Eat something light before guests arrive.
              • Relax. Seriously. A relaxed host makes for happy guests.
              • Spin the tunes and greet your guests.


                Ready to plan your party?

                  Comments
                  Oct. 23, 2010 10:44 am
                  Thank you for all of the planning advice but i am twelve and i am having a halloween party. Thanks anyways you were a lot of help :)
                   
                  Apr. 27, 2011 10:45 am
                  Hey, I bought one of those at the dollar store- a blow up pool for very small children. It was 6 inches deep, 4 feet across, had a one inch inflatable base, the whole ball of wax! Paid $4 for it and it's great for summer parties. We filled it with ice and set our cold dishes in it and it did a great job. You can find them at any dollar store or your local Wally World...
                   
                  May 9, 2012 11:00 pm
                  ok, this is an article i'll return to time and again. love the useful tips! "pinning" to my "hostess with the mostest" board so i can come back at the holidays. :)
                   
                  Jun. 4, 2012 7:44 pm
                  Does anyone know how to add this page to my all recipes? Just wondering you can do and add just about anything on this site. ALL RECIPES IS MY VERY FAVORITE BECAUSE I CAN RECALCULATE FOR LARGER OR SMALLER PARTIES. I LOVE THE CALCULATOR!!!! OH YEAH MY ALL RECIPES PET PEEVE - - - PEOPLE PLEASE REMEMBER TO DEFINE YOUR PAN SIZE FOR THE RECIPE YOUR SUBMITTING. THANKS TO ALL SUBMITTERS!
                   
                  Carrie 
                  Jul. 10, 2012 2:21 pm
                  This stuff is Handy.
                   
                  Metabea 
                  Jul. 21, 2012 11:55 am
                  Save This Article to Your Recipe Box amberappetizer I came across this on another part of this website thought it would help answer your question if you hadn't already figured it out. First, copy the article's web address (Url). Then click My Recipe Box at the top right corner of this page. Click Weblink at the top of your Recipe List and paste the Url in the space provided. Then follow the prompts.
                   
                  Jul. 20, 2013 11:24 am
                  Oh this checklist will be perfect for planning my husband's 60th birthday BBQ! Thank-you!
                   
                  Jacksonfrances 
                  Sep. 11, 2013 9:18 pm
                  The above mentioned blog is really very informative. I am also plan a party and its really provide me help to create my party planning checklist.
                   
                   
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