Mason jar lanterns. Mocktail bar. Music. Maybe a magician.

If you’re planning a party, you have a lot running through your mind at all times. So much, in fact, that stuff tends to slip through the cracks. How can you be sure to capture every little detail? And when to do what?

While every party is different, there’s a certain logic to party planning. Getting it all down on paper is the first step to turning the jumble in your brain into an actionable list.

But not just any ad hoc list.

Smart party planning checklists follow a certain rhythm. Settle in at your laptop, open up a spreadsheet, and take notes.

Upfront party planning tasks

If you’re starting from absolute scratch, the very first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a theme for your party. Is it a baby shower? A birthday? Or just a bash for the helluvit?

Once you’ve nailed a theme, here are the preliminary tasks to check off:

  1. Make a guest list / identify your target audience
  2. Create a budget
  3. Hire staff and recruit volunteers

Invites or ticket sales

If your plan is to sell tickets, you’ll need a pricing strategy. You might just sell “general admission” tickets, or perhaps you’ll offer various tiers of ticketing. For instance, bottle service for VIP ticket-holders. 

  1. Create an online ticketing page
  2. Set up any promotions you’ll use when you reach out to guests
  3. Make a revenue plan
  4. Set up reporting

Once you’ve laid this foundation, it’s time to start getting the word out.

Outreach to potential guests

Before you start planning logistics, let people know there’s a party happening. A longer ramp-up time lets you drum up excitement and RSVPs.

  1. Come up with event branding — a logo, choice fonts, and color scheme
  2. Optional: Create a website — or just use the online ticketing page you already created
  3. Write a press release
  4. Plan out your social media strategy — both organic and paid
  5. Order any paper collateral such as paper invites and flyers

While you’re waiting for people to RSVP, it’s time to plan the actual party.

On-site party logistics

Now for the nitty gritty. There are a lot of tasks that fall under this category, and you might have plenty of things to add to this list, but here are the basics:

  1. Secure a venue
  2. Scout vendors and sponsors — and prepare contracts
  3. Book entertainment: DJs, live bands, clowns, hula hoopers, you name it
  4. Plan the decor
  5. Rent or buy any equipment you’ll need
  6. Arrange catering
  7. Book a photographer and/or videographer
  8. Book a florist
  9. Hire security
  10. Develop party signage
  11. Book a cleaner for after it’s all over

As a final step during this phase, go back and confirm details with all your vendors, sponsors, entertainers, and other party partners. You don’t want any misunderstandings or last-minute surprises. It’s also a good idea to conduct a physical walk-through of the space to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Party task review

  1. Send a “thank you” to all your guests, and include a survey
  2. Compile and review survey results
  3. Review your ticket-sales reporting
  4. Reconcile your budget
  5. Follow up with your sponsors to see if your party met their KPIs

Pro tip: To take your party planning checklist to the next level, download a free Gantt Chart template that helps you assign all of these tasks on a timeline. This will help you stay focused on the things that need to be done, when they need to be done, and delegate as needed.

Party planned: check.

As you run through the process of creating a party planning checklist, you’ll no doubt come up with more tasks specific to your particular party. Save that spreadsheet as a template for next time. It’s a work in progress that will get refined with each party you throw.

For more concrete information about how to plan and throw a party, download this free kit. 

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