9 Tips for Planning A Successful Party

Party and event planning is one of my passions, I love it so much! It combines organization, shopping and creativity, which is the perfect trifecta of productivity for me. I enjoy using both the analytic and artistic sides of myself to create something that people can enjoy. It's rewarding to serve people, and to see a crowd having fun after you've worked so hard to make things that way!

Having said that, there are some cons. It's hard work. Sometimes very hard! It can easily go from "this will be so fun!" to "why did I do this to myself?" [Been there, done that!]. The stress and pressure can multiply quickly while trying to juggle many hats and make everything so-so. 

To help combat the cons, here are a few general tips that will make the process run more smoothly! 

Tip #1: Brainstorm and List It All Out

If you're tech-savvy, I suggest brainstorming and listing on a computer. Start either a word processing document in Google Docs or a spreadsheet in Google Sheets, so you can access it from difference devices. If you are not tech-savvy, and prefer writing by hand, grab a notebook [a small one, for portability] and start formulating. When coming up with ideas, details, needs, and wants, jot them ALL down so you can compare and contrast all your information, so you can make the best choices from the options. You'll be able to make better decisions about crucial aspects of the event - the who, what, why, when and how - when you have everything laid out in front of you.

After you've written down all your ideas, it should be much easier to identify your wants and needs, and weed out what may not be possible. Rewrite your decisions in a more approachable and executive fashion that you can refer to it. Then, on a clean sheet, create a master list that will allow you to cross off tasks as they are completed. There is nothing more satisfying in life than when you get to cross something off a list! 

I guarantee if you take the time to brainstorm, decide, and organize, you stand a much better chance of keeping on task and budget, and really executing things smoothly. This will definitely help reduce your event-related stress!

Tip #2: Rank Your Needs and Priorities

What is most important to the person or audience you are throwing the event for? Decor or venue? Food or music? Identifying the priorities of the event and what can and cannot be compromised should be done up front. Like in tip #1, it's best if these priorities are listed out and ranked by importance, so you will know where your budget and energy needs to be expended first. 

Working with kids at a Vacation Bible School, held at our church. Lots of fun, lots of work! 

Working with kids at a Vacation Bible School, held at our church. Lots of fun, lots of work! 

Tip #3: Stick To The Budget

There is nothing that is going to get you more stressed out than compromising on abudget. A $5 overage? Sure, that's not a big deal. But monitoring your compromises to go over the budget is very key.  One compromise usually ends up leading to another, and another, until you are unsure where it started, and it's difficult to reign back in because there are so many things left to procure!

Write down every purchase from the beginning in that master notebook/spreadsheet, providing a running list of items and prices. I am never very good at this, and I can't count the times that my $200 budget ended up doubling very quickly

Tip #4: Use Social Media & Technology To Your Advantage

Pinterest is my first go-to for anything, basically - but especially events! I have a party planning board, and there are so many other boards and pins that can spawn amazing ideas within a reasonable budget. You will even be able to find other blog posts like this one that will help you out with party tips. It is an invaluable tool!

As mentioned before, Google Docs and Google Sheets are great applications to consider. Utilizing the free service gives you the ability to create all kinds of different word processing and data processing documents [just like Microsoft Word and Excel], and store them with your Google account. Using Google makes them accessible between devices [phone, computer, tablet], which can be very helpful. The only requirement to use the service is to have an active Google account [which, I'm pretty sure everyone has at this point, whether or not you know it!]. 

Make sure to consider Facebook when it comes to invitations. You may feel the urge to go with a paper invitation, as there is something timeless and personal about them. But this is 2017, and invitees are more likely to notice the event, and be reminded of it, if there is a Facebook event page for them to RSVP to. It also gives you the opportunity to expound on your event and include details they may need to know. You can even change the privacy settings on an FB event so that only the people you invite can know the event is happening. Here are directions on what Facebook settings to use for this. 

Example of an event invitation on Facebook, created for our church's VBS in 2015. 

Example of an event invitation on Facebook, created for our church's VBS in 2015. 

Tip #5: Comparison Shop

 It is easy to run to your local party store and score all the little details you might need. But are you actually getting the best bang for your buck?

There is something to be said for supporting brick and motor local businesses.  I totally think it's right and important to support your community and small businesses. I also know that if you're able to get everything you want in one place, it can give you a sense of productivity. But at what cost? Does the store charge more when they are third-party selling? Probably so. So are the budget sacrifices worth it?

As said, nothing can will make you more stressed out and regretful than an out of control budget. It may be best to buy a few things in store, but then go to the internet for your bigger quantity purchases. Another option is to ask your local store about wholesale.

It's my opinion that researching prices both in store and online is KEY to maximizing the budget! I always check Amazon, Oriental Trading and Party Cheap for whatever I need before stepping foot inside a store. 

Tip #6: Recruit Help

I am the world's worse about asking for help and delegating. It's not natural for me to be assertive, I have a serious fear of rejection, and don't enjoy the prospects of inconveniencing people. But chances are, there are at least one or two people waiting in the wings, more than happy to assist you! A parent, a sibling, a friend - or maybe friends and family of the person the event is for? Even if they aren't able to assist with essential tasks like shopping or decorating, they can still give you advice, opinions and ideas. Reach out to them! It will save you from spreading yourself too thin.

Also, if someone specifically asks if or how they can help, accept their offer! It can be hard to accept help, especially if their offer seems casual. But you are only one person, you have to remember that! And if you are getting personal fulfillment out of what you're doing and enjoy the tasks, perhaps they do, too.

A spread of 1920's food at my sister's Bachelorette party. It was yummy, if I do say so myself! 

A spread of 1920's food at my sister's Bachelorette party. It was yummy, if I do say so myself! 

Tip #7: Create A Timeline

I can't tell you the times that I have found myself running around to different stores, trying to find a particular item, very short on time and resources. This always results in a bad mood, messed up plans, and fights with my husband. I get so mad at myself, because it is so easily avoidable with a little bit of planning!  

Time management, like budget, is one of the most stressful parts of taking on a task of this nature. This is once again a time to exercise your organizational skills. Assign a due date to get each task on your master list, so you are not rushing around at the last minute to gather all your supplies and finish things up. We all know having a cake ordered, booking a venue, and placing online purchases requires forethought and execution time. But there are so many other little things you can accomplish ahead of time! For your sanity's sake, have everything done, sorted out, and organized at least a day before the start of the event.

Tip #8: Quality over Quantity 

Sometimes Pinterest works too well and you are overwhelmed with all the amazing ideas that you can pull off. They all seem doable, they are all so cool, nifty, and maybe even thrifty...but are they all necessary? There is such a thing as overkill - too much food, too much decor, too much mixing and matching of styles, and sometimes a party can last too long! I would suggest all things in moderation: throw in whatever small, simple things that you can, to make everything easier on yourself and any helpers you employ. 

Lots of times I put undue pressure upon myself to make everything bigger and better, and maybe you do, too. Caught in the trap of keeping up appearances, we serve fancy cheese when really chips and dip would do, or we pay mega bucks to rent out an entire building, instead of considering what would have been more affordable. We want things to look nice, be fun, and be functional - but above all, it's the atmosphere that you create that is going to matter the most to the attendees. You can make things happy and fun, while still compromising on the food. You do not have to have it all. You would rather a guest walk away happy that they came, than walk away with an expensive party favor.

Simple Spring-themed set up for my sister's wedding shower. Fresh flowers and Pinterest vintage!

Simple Spring-themed set up for my sister's wedding shower. Fresh flowers and Pinterest vintage!

Tip #9: Keep in Good Spirits 

Whether you love party planning as much as myself, or you are just trying to get it through it, you control your own attitude. Grouchy, bossy and/or other unattractive moods when things get stressful are going to only bring you regret. Vent however and to whoever you need to. But make a cool disposition your norm and be positive, especially towards those who are helping you of their own will! Take time to consider who you are doing the party or event for - it will most certainly help to step outside of yourself for a minute. Life is meant to be enjoyed, no matter what the task! 

Posing at my sister's 1920's-themed Bachelorette Party :)

Posing at my sister's 1920's-themed Bachelorette Party :)

I hope you find this list helpful. Even if it is not new information, perhaps it's some good reminders!

What other tips do you have for successful party planning? What's the best party you've ever been to? Share with us in the comments!