Terry and Tony in South Africa. Two South Africans working from home in East London in South Africa since early 2008.

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Party Planning List and Tips

List and tips for what to think of when planning a party and tips for what to plan when planning a party!

Party planning tip number 1
Get pen or pencil, and paper, and make a list of everything you plan and think of. Or type it up and print it out, but perhaps leaving spaces for pen notes or additions to your party plans.

Once all ideas, plans and thoughts are listed, eliminate items on the list, until you have your final party planning list. To avoid stress, try to stick to this final list. Add any items you forgot to add, but try to spend a lot of time on creating the perfect party planning list first time round, so that you don’t have sleepless nights worrying about your list. Your list is supposed to help you, not stress you out.

The rest of the party planning tips:

Should the party have a theme?
Are the party guests the type of children or people who would appreciate and enjoy a party with a theme? Would the party guests go out of their way to dress up if you asked them to? Or would many of the guests not bother to dress up, or participate in any of themed activities? If it’s just a few of the guests who may not be interested in enjoying the fun of a themed party, but you’d still like to invite them, go ahead and invite them anyway – but keep a few handy dress up items available for when they see how much fun everybody else is having, and they want to join in.

If the party is going to be a theme party, which theme are you going to choose?
Watch your budget and timing. Plan well in advance if you are going to be making some of the decorations, invitations and party game prizes yourself. Also, check your guest list – if many of the invited guests are not that well off, don’t embarrass them by asking them to dress up in some elaborate costume that they or their parents will struggle to afford or put together.

The party venue
Where will the party be held? If outdoors, will there be cover if the weather turns bad? Will guests with any sort of vehicle be able to drive all the way to the party venue? What is the cost of the venue if you’re hiring a venue for the day or evening. How far in a advance do you have to book and pay for the party venue?

Decoration of the venue
Don’t forget to include walls, ceilings and floors in your creative party venue decoration plans. Even decoration of trees, shrubs, garden ornaments and garden furniture if the party is an outdoor party.

Planning the time and date of the party
Do you know if the party may clash with another party that most of your guests would also be invited to? Is there a big or popular event planned in your town at around the same time, on the same day?

Party invitations
In what style will your party invitations be? Homemade or ordered and bought? What needs to go into the invitations? What do the party guests need to know besides the usual venue, date and time?

Party photography
If it’s your child’s birthday party that you’re planning, are you quite prepared to either have no photos of the day, run around taking the photos yourself, to ask a friend to take photos, or to hire a photographer for the party? If you hire a photographer for the party, you may worry that some “perfect moment” shots you just know you would have seen and captured might be missed, but at least if you are not running around with a camera you may be in a better position to simply relax and enjoy the party too, or have more time to adequately cater to your child’s guests and their parents.

If hiring a party photographer or event photographer, phone around, check out a few websites, and compare prices and portfolios well in advance. Once deciding on a photographer, be sure that they will be available on the day, and book them as soon as possible.

Party guest list
If your child is not going to be inviting his or her entire pre-school or school class to a birthday party, speak to your child about who should go onto the guest list. Help your child remember anybody that really shouldn’t be left out. Also work out how many people you can afford to cater for, whether the part is for your child or for yourself. If the party is not a drop-and-go party, be sure that the party venue has enough parking space for the invited guests or parents of the invited guests. If the party is an adult party, decide if you are going to allow children too, and if so, count and add them to the guest list too.

Decoration of the party table or tables
Maybe you’re not even going to have a table – maybe just a picnic blanket on the beach, but if wanting to present the party food and drinks on a table, decide if you’re going to have just one table or a few tables. Decide if people are going to sit down at the tables or not. If so, perhaps decorate the chairs, benches or stools in the same party theme too.

Think about the age-group of the invited guests, and think about the theme of the party, if any. If there is no particular theme for the party, at least decorate the tables with flowers or attractively arranged bowls, trays or plates of party food, and attractively arranged party food items in those bowls, trays or plates. If the party is an outdoor party, think about if it gets windy – don’t use decorations that are going to blow right off the table.

Party food and drinks
Hopefully your party invites were sent out well in advance, and everybody invited has bothered to let you know if they will be attending the party or not. Try not to over cater when planning the amount of food you’ll need for the party, unless you’re quite happy eating left over party food for a day or two after the party is over.

Decide if the guests are going to need spoons, knives and forks, and plates. If serving warm party food, then be certain that the main party table is not too far from the oven or microwave, and that the oven or microwave are large enough to hold all the food you want to take straight from the oven to the table, or large enough for re-heating large amounts of food at once.

For drinks, will you be supplying drinks in ready to drink from bottles or cans, or will you be providing cups and glasses or paper cups. Make sure you have enough.

If wanting a few dozen bread rolls at the party, do not depend on the store having fresh rolls or even enough rolls on the morning of the party – place an order ahead of time. Pretend you are going to help yourself to some party food. Is everything there? Butter for the rolls? A bread knife? Serviettes?

Party games
If you’ve decided you are going to be having party games, plan the games and prizes, the game rules, and the conditions to be met for winning the prizes.

Hiring entertainment
Hiring entertainment for a party is much like hiring a photographer for the party. Shop around and compare prices. Book the entertainer well in advance. Decide if the entertainer should fit the theme of the party, or be surprisingly different or opposite from the theme of the party.

Party Packs
Will you provide party packs? Will invited party guests get the party packs as they walk through the door, or when they leave? What will you put in the party packs? Will the party packs be themed the same as the party theme? Will you buy the party packs and what goes into them, or will you create your own homemade party packs?

Birthday cake
Go wild with the theme of the birthday cake, and if ordering a cake, order it on time, but don’t forget about the actual birthday boy or girl. While catering to your guests is a must, don’t get a cake that your child doesn’t enjoy eating. Some people, believe it or not, really do not enjoy chocolate cake. If your child wants a milk tart for a birthday cake, get your child a milk tart, but explain you are going to get another cake too – what fun – two birthday cakes. If the birthday cake is going to be an ice-cream cake, be sure to present it at an appropriate time – not when everyone is already so full that the beautiful ice-cream cake will just melt into a soggy mess. Don’t forget candles and matches.

Cleaning up after a party
Hire somebody to do the cleaning up after the party, or be sure to provide lots of rubbish bins, strategically scattered all over.

Planning a party can be stressful. Take time to rest a bit before the party starts. You don’t want to suddenly realise that all the planning is over, in the middle of the party, and feel so relieved that you fall asleep in front of everyone.

© Copyright Teresa Schultz 2014

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