party planning tips

I was an event planner before I decided to stay at home with Hudson, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve done anything that you can’t do. Planning a party is about being organized. You may think that you’re not creative and you can’t do it, but anyone can be creative. It’s about being resourceful and looking for different ways to make a statement.

I’ve come up with what I think is a good list of things to keep in mind when planning a party.

1. Start early. You want to avoid stress. With a baby, you don’t want to be running around like crazy two weeks before the party because you’ve waited until the last minute.

2. Decide on a theme and/or colors. This will help you know what to do. If you have a theme, think of ways you can expand on the theme. If you just use colors, think of ways you can fill the space with those colors.

3. Keep your eyes open. When you’re at Target, look around for things that go with your colors. Start doing this months in advance. I found all of the green buckets back in January. I knew I’d need them and I’d use them. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d use them, but the color was right and I snatched them up. Look in the dollar bins and the seasonal departments. If something fits the color then grab it. If you start doing this months in advance, you won’t have as much trouble finding something when it comes down to the last minute.

4. Make a list. Initially, you need a list broken up into categories: decorations, food, drinks, extras. Think of the fun ways you can use these categories to expand on your theme/colors. We chose to have only green and orange food. Then we had the bbq and ham, which obviously isn’t green or orange. But a vegetable platter of only green veggies and orange veggies. Green deviled eggs. Green and orange candy. Use anything to fit the theme.

Then make lists/timelines two weeks out from the party to outline your tasks. It helps to stay organized. Make a list of what you should do a week out. Make a list of what you should do the day before and the day of the party.

5. Be original. Use blogs and magazines for inspiration, but don’t take someone else’s party and just replicate it. Make your party your own. It’s more fun when you know you did something and it fits your personality and the personality of the guest of honor. Everyone has a creative bone in their body. Find yours.

6. Think of your guests. If you invite adults to a child’s party, make sure the party is also adult-friendly. Have some adult food and adult beverages. If it’s an adult’s party and you invite kids, make it kid-friendly. Have a table for kids and food for kids. Everyone wants to feel comfortable when they attend a party, so make sure you have something for all of your guests.

7. Get help! Delegate! It’s impossible to have a huge party without getting help. My mother-in-law makes amazing cake balls and deviled eggs, so I asked her to do those things. My mom has connections for buying candy in bulk and already owns all of the containers for the candy. She can also tie a mean bow, so she picked up all of the ribbon in the appropriate colors and got to tying!

8. Make an outline/diagram of your space. I made a list for each room in the house. Kitchen: deviled eggs, ham, beverage dispensers, Green Eggs and Ham sign. Breakfast room: barbecue, mac ‘n cheese, all heavy food, paper poms, drink buckets. Dining room: centerpieces, candy, cupcakes, smash cake.

If you do this in advance, then the day of the party and the day before, you’re ready. You know exactly where things need to go.

9. Start setting up early. Don’t wait until the day of the party to decorate. Do the decorating two nights before. The night before, set out all of your dishes and get the party “staged.” The day of you can just put out all of the food and put the finishing touches on everything. Also- if you’re using balloons, wait until the day of to blow up the balloons and put them out.

10. More is more! When you think you’re all finished decorating, take a look around add something else. If you’re trying to make a punch with color, then find as many ways as possible to use that color. Always add more! When we finished decorating we had a couple of unused buckets and poms that had to go in one of the closets, but we were prepared. We had lots of stuff and found creative ways to use everything.

Those are my best party-planning tips. Do you have anything that you would add to the list?

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  1. says

    These are great tips! I plan events for work very frequently and although they are very “by-the-book, no-creativity-needed” the tips still translate perfectly!

    I can’t recommend delegating enough! When planning my wedding and my work events I found this to be the best stress saver, time saver and money saver.

    My tip I would add is to know your space: if it’s you reception hall, then visit it and visualize how you want to fill the space. With someone’s home, know the restrooms and porches/patios: places people will want to go. I also find just “talking it out” helps finalize what kind of plans you have in your head and how to make make sure they are realized.

  2. says

    As an Event Planner, i can not agree more with everything you’ve written! Organization is the BIGGEST factor in planning special events.
    Hudson’s party was out of this world!!!

  3. says

    Great tips… I always try to plan ahead and think outside the box when it comes to shopping for items I could use for a party. We have lots of different parties throughout the year and we also tailgate -our favorite NFL and college team are both red so I buy up lots of platters and containers at Christmas when things go on clearance.

  4. Ainslee Barnes Carnahan says

    Hudson’s party was precious – I have been planning for Barnes’ seems like forever now! It is in July. Did you make your paper poms? I want to make them but haven’t found a site that explains it well.

  5. says

    I don’t have any kids to start planning parties for, but these are great tips in general for any party planning. thanks for posting! 🙂

  6. Jane says

    Hudson’s party looks fabulous!!! I’m wondering who made the smash cake and cupcakes? I have been in search for a good bakery in the Columbia area and haven’t had any luck yet! Also, did you tie the invitations in with the theme? I’d love to see a post on those, because I’m sure they are just as awesome as the rest of the party details!

  7. says

    Great advice! Working in fundraising I do a ton of events – never get to be this creative unfortunately. You’ve inspired me to think more about the visual impact and atmosphere. I tend to obsess on the menu but not decor.

    OMG I need to delegate more. At work I’m great about, it’s our job. But when planning showers etc I hesitate to ask for help from the co-hostesses. Partly because I don’t want to stress them out, partly because I LOVE this stuff.

    Congrats! Hudson will cherish these pictures when he’s older. He’ll know how loved he was for sure!

  8. says

    These are great tips! I’ve only got 9 months to plan my little girl’s first birthday…and I’m only halfway kidding!

    I would add that keeping an inspiration binder or inspiration board is very helpful. There have been so many times where I’ve found a photo I love but can’t immediately think of how to make the statement translate. By keeping all the things I love in one place I can see the connections.

    Hudson’s party looks amazing!

  9. says

    Awesome tips!!!

    Hudson’s party is truly out of this world…………. but of course, so was your wedding, so it fits, lol.

    Question……. do you think your MIL would share her Cake Ball recipe? They sound and look very yummy!

  10. says

    You did an amazing job! I threw a bridal shower last weekend and did most of your steps! After throwing a few, you realize what works and what doesn’t. The biggest thing is planning ahead and being prepared!

  11. says

    I love all the tips. The organizer in me wants to plan a big party now! I really adored your idea to have guests sign the book. I can’t get over how cute that is!

  12. says

    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I am getting started this week! Expect lots of emails, texts, phone calls and spreadsheets coming your way 🙂 ha

  13. the wife says

    I do the exact same thing you just listed pre-events. As an event planner, you ABSOLUTELY must be organized.

    Congrats on an awesome party!

  14. says

    What an AMAZING party you threw! Thank you for these tips! Now that we’re expecting a little babykins, I definitely have future birthday parties on the brain.

  15. says

    Hi love this post! I have a party I am hosting this weekend and I started out so ahead of the game and well I just realized I am WAY behind!! If you love fun party and personalized stuff check out my website. The party looked great and Hudson is just as cute as can be!!

  16. says

    Oh, what a fabulous post– and a fabulous party! Candy buffets are so cool– and so beautiful! Excellent work on all the details! xoxo Kiki

  17. says

    You did such a great job! Thanks for all the details. Now when do you plan to start your own business? You definitely have the skills. 🙂

  18. says

    Great tips! I did a lot of list making when it came to my wedding. Best tip a newly wed gave me for wedding planning was to get a binder and separate everything into categories and have pictures. I had my full guest list and anything I needed to show a vendor at my finger tips by doing that.

  19. Jessica says

    These are really good tips. I was wondering however, if you had any tips for people on a budget? I love throwing parties but I’m just wondering how much a party like this would cost? Mostly I’m wondering about the decorations… Thanks though — great tips!

  20. amanda says

    I liked the budget question above…and I would just add that if you do alot of shopping way out and pick-up things here and there/now and then it does become such a cost crunch…plan, plan, plan and it will help your overall budget – just like Erin said too, be resorceful, Dollar Tree has great buckets, candies and “theme” stuff (ie Luau), dollar bin atTarget – always has great add-ins for favors, etc…use your 40% coupons at Michaels, Joann and HL for bigger items that may cost more…I used to plan parties/events prior to staying home but it is sooooo much more fun to do for those you love, great postErin!

  21. says

    You are SO organized. I am not a planner but I strive to be one. Next time I have a party to plan, I’ll be referring to this post. So helpful for someone who has organization issues (me!).

  22. crewlade drinka says

    These are great tips! I tend to start early, then ease up and get all stressed in the end trying to finish! I need to stick with it. You really did a great job planning this for Hudson. I love how attentive to every detail you are! SOO cute! I think the best idea of all was to get a photographer. those photos will be the best keepsake of the party for him and for you. I am so glad I found your blog. I get so much inspiration/motivation!

  23. Elisabeth A says

    Great tips! My little Rowan will be 1 in early October, which leaves me less than 4 months. I started stressing yesterday but this post has helped me down from the ledge and get it all organized.

  24. Perfectly Imperfect says

    I’m just saying.. expect to give me lots of help come about december of this year! It’s going to take me that long to plan a first birthday party. Planning is so not my forte!!


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