BY OLYA FESSARD
The Crib Sheet for Planning Any Great Party for Children and Adults
Whether you are planning your child’s birthday party, your own first Christmas soiree, or a sit-down dinner for your extended family, our checklist will guarantee success. Start by checking off what’s not applicable to your particular party. That’s right. You’re done with them! Then one by one, check off the other items as they are completed.
Four to six weeks before the party
- Set a date, time of day, and location for the party.
- Are you hosting the party away from home? If so, does the facility have special requirements regarding food?
- Make a list of guests to invite with complete addresses.
- Choose a theme, menu, entertainment, and budget.
- How many tables will be used and what sizes?
- Reserve entertainment and photographer.
- Make lists on paper so that you won’t forget anything.
Three weeks before the party
- Prepare and mail invitations, plan and/or make decorations.
- Order party favors.
- Plan table settings and centerpiece if it is a sit-down party.
- Start collecting what you need.
- Arrange to borrow or rent folding tables and chairs if needed.
- Plan the party games and crafts.
- And, refine those lists!
Two weeks before the party
- Plan the party flow and activity sequence.
- Complete party favors.
- If it’s a birthday party, buy a special gift.
- List linens, tableware, serving bowls, trays, and serving utensils you will need. Use this list to borrow, rent, or buy.
- Complete any other “do ahead” projects.
- Also, plan a safe place for pets during the celebration.
- Wash and press tablecloth and napkins if necessary.
One week before the party
- Pinpoint an exact guest count by calling all non-RSVP guests.
- Make a complete food and beverage shopping list.
- Polish and wash tableware and serving pieces.
- Order cake, flowers, and balloons.
- Deep clean house.
- Shop for party menu staples (don’t forget batteries and film!).
- Assign photographer a list of special photo requests.
- Organize and set out games.
Two to three days before the party
- Do another light house cleaning.
- Complete food shopping except for items which must be purchased the same day of party.
One day before the party
- Decorate and arrange your home for the party.
- If necessary, confirm any entertainers or helpers.
- Set up activity areas for children’s party.
- Put in a safe place small precious items or dangerous items.
- Prep menu, finish last minute projects.
- Make sure cameras are ready to use, pick up rentals.
- Plan party wear for everyone and clean the house again.
- Rearrange furniture, if necessary.
- Arrange decorations.
- Prepare the coat closet, if necessary.
- Gather serving pieces.
- Finish advance food preparations.
- If it’s a birthday or family celebration, involve your child in the party preparations.
The day of the party
- Give the house a brief once-over.
- If it’s a birthday, place your special gift in an area to serve as a precedent for where guests should drop off presents. Have a paper and pen nearby for recording gifts.
- Set goody bags in a spot where you will remember to hand them out to guests as they leave.
- Arrange flowers.
- Set the table.
- Set favors on the table if you’re not having goody bags.
- Make sure the serving area is all set.
- Finish remaining cooking.
- Arrange non-perishable foods.
- Set up the beverage area.
- Freshen up the bathroom and arrange guest towels.
- Consider putting any pets in an area away from the guests.
- Pick up ice, balloons, or other last-minute needs.
- Snap photos while all is intact.
- Practice “thank you” with your young children for any gifts received and “thank you” to each guest for coming.
2 Hours Before the Party
- Get dressed but consider wearing an apron.
- Take an hour to rest and relax before the doorbell rings!
- Share last minute party instructions with your child and/or party helpers.
- Turn the music on.
- Relax, smile, and have fun
After the Party
- Send thank you notes if gifts were brought and to helpers.#