Party Planning 101

Your best friend is having a baby, your spouse is turning the big 3-0, or you just want to let loose and throw a raging summer BBQ. No matter the occasion, there’s more that goes into an event aside from a few extra folding tables and chairs, and some colorful balloons. The secret to a successful and fun party that won’t break the bank is in the planning.

The more you plan yourself, the easier this will be. When a single person has control over what will happen at the event, it’s much easier to budget how much you can manage.

The party will have a much more personalized feeling and be a success. So what exactly goes into the party planning? There’s the food, drinks, entertainment, people, location, favors, decorations, date and times, invitations (if needed). Let’s break down the steps to planning each of these categories for a successful party!

Determine a date/time!

Before you do anything, work out the day and time of the big event!

Plan your budget!

The most important thing here is not to go broke. Know your limits, and set them early. Do not be afraid to cut things down in order to stay within your price range.


Start out by planning who you would like to invite to this party. Make a list of guests, and include whether or not you would allow them to bring a guest. Figuring out an estimated amount of people that will attend this party will affect all other factors; how much food to have, extra chairs, extra folding tables, where you can have it, how many favors you need, etc.

Don’t feel as though you need to invite every single person that you know. Gather your number, and send out your invites in whatever fashion you desire (internet, phone call, traditional invitations, etc.)


Make sure you plan ahead for your location. If you’re picking somewhere other than your home, check into it early on and figure out if you need to make reservations. Make sure this place can accommodate all of your guests, entertainment, and food.

If you plan on having it at your home, make sure to set up specific areas for guests to sit and hang out, a place for the food and entertainment, and a place for children to play if they are a part of your guest list. Clean and tidy the areas prior to guest arrival, and use time wisely to decorate. It’s best to start this process a day earlier if you are able to.


People love food, and depending on what dishes you’re serving up at your party can really make or break it. Grilled items are always a hit, having a catering company handle your food can be another option if the price is right, or making your own finger foods (if it’s a small gathering) is always a classic favorite.

Ask your guests what they would enjoy having at your party, and use cook books and the internet wisely for gathering recipe ideas. Stock up on waters and sodas and other simple beverages that come in cans or bottles. Take coolers and ice into factor for keeping drinks cold. Don’t go too hard on alcohol as it’s costly, and you don’t want everyone overindulging.


Will you have music and games at your party? Of course you will! What’s a party without these things? Having a diverse music set list is always a good idea. Use an iPod or iTunes via your computer. There are also online programs such as Pandora radio, Slacker radio, and Spotify that offer customizable internet radio! Simply go to their websites, sign up, download the software, and click play.

The traditional radio or CD never failed, either! If you’re planning on bringing live music to your party, there is much more to work out with the band; payment, area for them to play, duration of set, and booking. This should all be taken care of at least a month prior to your event.

Games are a great way to add some spice to your gathering. If your party is going to be primarily outdoors then games such as horse shoes, corn hole, bean bag toss, relay races, or tug of war are all great.

If you want the gaming indoors, then there is nothing wrong with classic board games, or video games! If you own a gaming console such as Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Wii, there are tons of multi-player games available for purchase. Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, Wii Sports, or racing games are a great way to fire up your guests and get them involved with one another.


This can be the most enjoyable process for anyone who loves to entertain. The key in decorating is to remember to remain within your budget. There are great finds at dollar stores for simple decorations, table clothes, center pieces, and plastic cutlery. Stores such as Party City offer aisles of options for your event.

If you’re feeling creative, and want to take on some projects by yourself, use websites such as Pinterest for creative party decoration ideas that won’t break the bank. Purchasing supplies at craft stores and making your own center pieces or favors is not only a great way to save money, but it’s also a sure fire way to impress your guests!

The idea of throwing a great party may be overwhelming, but if you plan ahead and budget your money and time wisely, it can be a huge hit! Planning something alone is not as intimidating as it may seem.

All it takes is a little time, creativity, and management. On the day of your party, your guests will ravish in all of your planning, and you too will be able to kick back and enjoy all of your hard work! Party on!

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Sean Carter is an experienced writer who has been published on many different blogs all over the internet on such topics as event planning, traveling and technology