Party Planning: Tips from an Expert Organizer

I promised I would be back with something juicy today since I missed you on Tuesday. Today we’re talking about party planning.  With spring already here (can you believe it?), weddings and parties are going to fill up your calendar faster than you can open it (well hopefully at least!).  But today’s tips are for those get-togethers you’ll be hosting.

I’ll share some of the tips I recommend and then the tactics  I use to keep myself organized.  Are you ready?

1. Plan ahead: I cannot stress this enough and if you take away anything from this post, let it be this! Waiting until the last minute only adds more stress to an already pressure filled task of planning and hosting a party.  Depending on the size of the event, start planning at least a couple of weeks ahead of time, maybe even a month to be safe if you’re really busy.  For larger events like weddings, give yourself at least 4 to 5 months, probably more if it’s going to be a grand affair.  What’s the huge plus to planning ahead?  It saves you money!  The extra time will give you a chance to research everything you’ll need and compare prices between stores and online.  Sometimes buying things online isn’t necessarily cheaper once you add in shipping costs, but if you need to order things online, order them early so you don’t have to pay rush delivery fees.  On the flip side of that, many times ordering things online is much cheaper, but you’ve got to have time to get it shipped.  If you also need to hire help, scheduling workers last minute may cost you, especially if they’ve got a full calendar.  But if you catch them while their schedules are wide open you can trust they have time to work with you and many times get a fair price or even an early bird discount.

My Tactic:  The first thing I do is figure out what needs to be done and when, then write it all down, this is your “Plan of Action” or “Master List.”  Which leads me to the next tip!

2. Make lists and keep them handy: I don’t know how many times I’ve been doing something completely unrelated to the upcoming event and ideas pop in my head out of nowhere.  Does that ever happen to you?  But you’ll be ready for those random spurts of genius if you’ve got your list ready to go.  And now that you’ve got your plan of action, the list making should be a breeze!  Key lists could be: to-dos, shopping, cleaning, due dates, etc.

Tip: use your plan of action as a reference for creating your sub-lists.  Each section in your plan could be its own sub-list.  Use only bullets and short phrases on your plan of action, and reserve your sub-lists for the details.

My Tactic: I use my smartphone for everything and take it everywhere.  My Android phone came with GTasks (a Google app) and I have ongoing “lists” for certain things.  Even if you’re not planning a party, you can use these lists for your routine grocery shopping and dinner ideas.  I do!

3. Follow through: It’s easy to make those lists (that you’ve hopefully made), but the doing part can be harder for some.  You stare at your lists and have no clue where to start.  You’ve got to start somewhere!  Take a look at your plan of action to see what really needs to get done first and start there. Or if that doesn’t work for you, just pick a random spot in your plan or a random sub-list and just do something.  Sooner or later you’ll come across things you can’t do until you do something else first.  That would be a lesson in prioritizing!

My Tactic: Sometimes I need a constant reminder of the big picture. I often reference my plan of action to keep things in perspective.  Then I just start doing!  (Keep in mind this is coming from a natural born anti-procrastinator.  My mind doesn’t understand not doing things right when I find out about them, so take this advice with a grain of salt and don’t worry yourself too much about it.)

4.  Stay on task: You’re in the middle of baking cookies, cleaning the house, and ten other things at once, right? You don’t have enough time in the day to do it all, do you? Your dog is barking and the kids are hungry.  It’s easy to get distracted. But if you’ve got your list handy, go down the list, focus on one thing at a time and keep your focus on that one thing until it’s completed.

My Tactic: I love to erase tasks off my lists as I complete them to free my mind from the stress.  It feels great to see a blank to-do list!  I know some people like to cross tasks off versus erasing them as it gives a sense of accomplishment for what you’ve done.  Do whatever works for you.

5. Break the monotony: When you’re engrossed in all those tasks, sometimes you just need a break, right? Don’t torture yourself, step away from the oven and rubber gloves.  If even for just a few minutes, give your mind and body a rest.  Take a deep breath, drink some water, take a short stroll down the street and get some fresh air.  Then get back to work with a second wind (or third or fourth!).

My Tactic: I use a work and reward system to stay motivated. I set a goal and when I meet it, I’ll reward myself with things like an episode of a favorite TV show or a snack break.  Mold the work and rewards to what works for you.  Anything goes as long as your erasing (or crossing) those tasks off your lists!

6. Stay motivated: In order to get everything done for the party on top of your already busy schedule, it’s important to stay motivated.  Keep your eyes on the prize!  Just remind yourself why your going out of your way to host an awesome party even though you know you don’t have the time or maybe even the energy.  The smiles on your guests faces, the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’re surrounded by friends and family.  Whatever gets you going, just think about that.

My Tactic: To keep myself motivated, sometimes I remember a time when I felt that sense of accomplishment and how wonderful it feels.  Reliving that feeling can be just enough motivation to finish even the least fun to-dos!

7. Do what you can ahead of time: To alleviate the stress of an overflowing to-do list, figure out what things can be done ahead of time, and do them!  This is where prioritizing and taking a deep look into your plan of action can really pay off.

My Tactic: Usually my plan of action is pretty clear which things need to be done first, since that’s how I organize mine, in order of sequence and priority. I will also highlight or mark in some way the things I should or could be working on now or next so I can easily see where my next steps are (or should be).  Anything I can do ahead of time, I do.  I try to only leave the things that really can only be done last minute, for the last minute.  This alleviates so much stress on the day of the party.  Of course, this means taking the time to actually plan your actions and make those lists.  We’ve come full circle.  If you skip those steps, you’ll be a last minute mess!

I hope these tips will help you the next time you’ve got an awesome party to plan.  I know I haven’t covered everything and I am sure there are tons of ideas you have too.  Share your party planning tips and tricks in the comments below.  Or, if you have questions or want me to elaborate on anything, please ask!



Filed under Organization, Party Planning

6 responses to “Party Planning: Tips from an Expert Organizer

  1. I love your tips for organizing a party. For small gaatherings I would clean the house 2 days before…cook all the food I can the day before as well as setting the table. The day of party I can relax and do finishing touches and be calm and able to enjoy my guests.

  2. Great tips! Very helpful. Thanks! I am always making lists . . . then losing them. Maybe it’s time for a smart phone!

  3. Wow this is an AMAZING post! How helpful! I am hoping I’ll be having a housewarming party sometime this year, but I suppose finding the house should be #1 on my list 😉

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