How to Plan a Party ~ Hosting a large party likes this takes a significant amount of organizing. The ideas are great but how does one actually implement them and how does one actually keep track of everything that has to be done?
The previous two blogs were a lot of fun sharing with you all of the great special touches I had in order to make my recent retirement party a great success. If you missed any of these posts and want to see what all the fun was about just click the following links:
Before I get started I want to make it clear that I am not a professional event planner but I have been planning lots of events for my entire career and I love to plan and organize. If you are a classroom teacher you will know that we have to be super planned and super prepared for the lessons that we are going to teach our students. After planning for 35 years on a daily basis you could say I got pretty skilled at planning activities. I also love the creativity and problem solving of the planning and I love to see everything fall into place.
When planning I keep in mind not only the ideas but also the time needed to prepare them, staying on budget and the needed materials needed. The other really important thing I do is write everything down and I have a system that I have used for years that really works for me.
This Is How To Plan A Party…
I start with an organizing web or it is also known as a mind map. The materials needed for this are very simple as it’s just a blank piece of paper and something to write with. The example mind map I made for you is completed with a fine point black pen so it would show up better in the photograph. However, I usually use a pencil because this mind map is my working document so I can make changes by adding, deleting or substituting my ideas. I like working with a mind map rather than lists because I can see everything at once as I scan my eyes over the page. I can also see connections between the ideas and do some quick cross-referencing if need be. This first document is like an overview of what needs to be done.
After I am pretty happy that the main ideas of the party are planned, I then use my mind map to make task cards for each of the things that need to be taken care of. Again, the materials used for these task cards are very simple. I just use index cards and a Sharpie pen. The type of information I put on the task card varies but it usually includes the materials and sometimes the timeline for completion.
How do I use these task cards? They are my quick reference check for each specific thing that needs to be completed. As things get taken care of, the card is removed and put in the completed pile. Where I really like using these task cards is when I have people helping me. For example, for this party I was fortunate to have lots of helpers including my husband, my close friend and her husband and my brother and sister-n-law. It’s great to have lots of help but if nobody isn’t sure what needs to be done it can get pretty dysfunctional with everybody want to be a willing helper but asking all of the time what should they do.
I just lined up the task cards on a table and my helpers selected a card with the instructions on it and got to work. My role was primarily project manager and ‘gopher’ (I go-pher this and go-pher that) but lots of things got done on the day of the party with lots of time left before the guests arrived.
I also put specific task cards with the materials and foods like this example whenever possible and that really helped keep things organized.
There is one important job that I haven’t talked about yet and that is the shopping for what was needed for the party. I wrote a blog titled A Brilliant Method For Recording a Grocery List. As you can see I even mind map my grocery list according to the layout of the grocery store!
So that’s it. This is a system that really works for me for how to plan a party. What are your thoughts on this system? I would also love to hear what you do when you plan special dinners or parties.
Christmas is a time where there are lots of parties that require planning and being organized. This party planning system is included in this round-up of ideas. To help you with your christmas planning I invite you to check out 10 Ways To Organize And Decorate For Christmas. Just click on the image for more inspiration…