M A R C O’s Ultimate Party Planning Checklist
1 Month Before:
– Create a guest list
This can be a bit of a daunting task, so let’s get it out of the way early. Who do you know that this party would appeal to?
Magic tip: Remember that there will be inevitable no-shows and those who cannot make it, so you can compensate for this by inviting more people than you initially planned.
– Select a date
Have a few pre-determined dates to avoid any disappointments. Try not to have the date conflict with any other celebrations or holidays.
Magic tip: When sending your invites, include multiple dates to see which ones are the most popular.
– Determine your budget
Make sure you take into account every aspect of the party. Certain things are worth the extra money, whereas some more expensive choices won’t make much of a difference. You don’t have to be ultra-precise at this point, but it’s good to have a limit for when you start booking the specifics.
Magic tip: Once you’ve determined budget, reduce it by 10%. This smaller amount left over after everything is paid for will cover any unexpected costs.
– Choose a venue
Depending on the size of your guest list, you may want to opt for hiring a venue rather than hosting the party at your home. If you decide to hire out a venue, a number of the tips in this checklist will be taken care of for you. Remember to consider the weather if you’re choosing an outdoor location.
Magic tip: Websites such as venueseeker.com and headbox.com have thousands of venues listed, and allow you to filter the choices based on your specific requirements. Some venues even have built-in activities like bowling.
– Decide on a theme
If the party is for a particular occasion, then this is something to think about.
Magic tip: A way to get started on deciding a theme is being inspired by the venue you’ve chosen. Having your venue & theme match will also make decorating much easier.
– Book entertainment
DJs, live bands and photo booths are all popular options – just make sure to let the venue manager know what you’re planning. Now is the time to consider hiring a photographer to capture all the best bits & memories from the party.
Magic tip: (You probably saw this one coming). Hiring a magician to entertain your party guests is a fantastic choice for so many reasons. Instead of listing them all here, go to www.marcomagic.co.uk/gallery to see for yourself how happy magic will make your guests.
– Invite your guests
This bit is rather important! Your invitations should of course include the party’s date, time, venue, theme (if you’ve chosen one) and any associated dress code. Personalised invites are a memorable touch.
Magic tip: Creating a Facebook page for the event is a great way of bringing all of the above together, both for your guests and for you to keep an eye on the RSVPs. You can even look into promoting the page if you want to reach out to people other than close friends and family.
– Organise food and/or catering
Will you be serving the food & drinks yourself? Apart from asking guests to bring food themselves, if you’re expecting a lot of guests, a less demanding option is hiring a caterer. Remember to check whether they can accommodate for any special dietary requirements.
Magic tip: Consider what types of food keep for longer. If you have leftovers, they can double as lunch for the next day.
3 Weeks Before:
Plan the decorations
Now that you’ve got the important stuff out of the way, you can have a bit of fun with this. Pinterest, blogs, and magazines are excellent sources of inspiration for decoration & party supply ideas.
Magic tip: You’re doing this 3 weeks early so that you have plenty of time to order anything personalised, like balloons or banners.
– Make a schedule
You’d think that loads of friends and family showing up to a big room with food & drinks would be enough to get a party started. It is – but sometimes it needs a programme, and this is where outlining a rough plan for the evening will come in handy.
Magic tip: If you aren’t sure of the exact agenda, there’s no harm in including everything here and being precise with the timings. This schedule is simply so you know what’s happening and when, particularly when it comes to the entertainment. Even if all your plan has on it is when the different courses are being served, you’ll feel better having it to hand.
– Place your orders
As well as the decorations, there are a few practical considerations to make here. Do you need tableware? Speakers for the music? Equipment for any entertainment? It’s a good idea to find out who’s bringing what, so you know what to order in advance.
Magic tip: Make sure the venue has enough room to fit any larger items you order. It sounds obvious, but that room looked a lot bigger before you put the buffet table in the middle, didn’t it?
– Create a seating plan (if needed)
This is well worth considering if you’re expecting more than 50 guests. Name plates on the tables will make it easy for everyone to find their place and will avoid stragglers when the starters are arriving.
Magic tip: Try seating groups of friends with others they may not already know. Guests who are less familiar with one another typically have more to talk about, and when they meet back up with their friends after the food, they may have already made a new one.
– Line up some help
Find out in advance who the co-ordinator at the venue is, as they’ll know all sorts of helpful stuff like where the spare chairs are kept.
Magic tip: You can always recruit a couple of friends or family members to lend a hand on the day. You don’t want anyone to feel that their only use is to help organise things, so assign different jobs to different people. That way, tasks will seem easier and will be taken care of quickly, so no one feels like all they’re doing is working.
1 Week Before:
– Call or e-mail guests who haven’t RSVP’d
If someone hasn’t RSVP’d, it’s likely that they’ve simply forgotten to reply. Sending a friendly reminder will let them know to get back to you.
Magic tip: Send reminders to everyone who has RSVP’d as well. This will get them excited for the party, and you could even use this opportunity to ask them if they’d like anything specific in terms of music/food/activities for some inspiration.
– Make a party playlist
If you’re hiring a DJ, then you can of course leave this bit to them. If you’d rather create your own music playlist, then this is the time to get a few friends round and decide on the music.
Magic tip: To avoid running out of songs, so err on the side caution and include enough music to last until after the party is over.
– Confirm deliveries & pickups
You don’t want any unwanted surprises such as missing food or decorations. For peace of mind, make sure all of the vendors have confirmed their deliveries and everything is on its way.
Magic tip: If you’re worried that something won’t arrive on time, simply calling the vendor and explaining the situation is usually enough encouragement for them to prioritise your delivery. Nobody wants a bad review.
– Sort out the logistics
A few other practicalities that will save you a lot of time and hassle on the day include: determining where the guests will park, knowing which door the food will come through (as it will be used a lot), marking out an area for the DJ, band, or dancefloor, and designating an area for guests to leave their coats and bags.
Magic tip: This is also a good time to ensure there are no safety hazards such as loose wires or precariously-placed valuables sitting slightly too close to the edge of a table.
The Day Before:
– Prepare the venue
Arrange the furniture, test the sound equipment and make sure the Wi-Fi works. You can put up some of the decorations, but items such as balloons and flowers can be left until the day of the party.
Magic tip: If you’re opting for a buffet, spread the food tables out as much as possible. This is where the biggest build-up of guests will occur, and you don’t want anyone to be accidentally crowded.
– Shop for last-minute items & perishables
Certain foods don’t last very long once they’re bought, so use this day to stock up.
Magic tip: Expect most guests to go through 1 – 2 drinks per hour. This includes a lot of ice, so make some room in the freezer.
– Prep the food & drink
If you’re supplying the food yourself, make sure all choppable food is chopped, anything that can be made in advance is already made, and that you have enough space in the fridge.
Magic tip: Allocate a room to serve as the ‘food prep’ room. This is where dirty plates, glasses and cutlery can hide away until the guests have left.
On the Day:
Balloons, flowers, table settings, welcome drinks – everything that wasn’t set up the day before can now be brought out.
Magic tip: Don’t inflate any balloons until an hour or so before guests start showing up, as you don’t want to risk them deflating before anyone has arrived.
– Queue up your music
Again, if you have a DJ on-site, then they’ll know what to do. If you’re in charge of the music, however, ensure the music is queued up and ready to play straight through from the first song to the last.
Magic tip: Get all of your songs downloaded onto a laptop or a phone, as using YouTube is all well and good until an advert starts playing halfway through your playlist (the free version of Spotify also does this).
– Welcome your guests
You should now be all set! It’s about time for you to relax and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work.
Magic tip: Have fun!