|Source: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I like parties. I enjoy going to parties and hosting parties, but in my opinion, the fun actually starts weeks before invitations are received.
The planning - that's what gets my blood flowing and brings a smile to my face. Yes, planning a party is stressful - but it's a good kind of stress. It's like the stress of being the star in the school play. It's like the stress of preparing for volleyball tryouts. It's a fun stress.
There are so many aspects of planning a party. I like to make lists to start out: guests, food, decorations, activities, music/movies/entertainment, invitations, and favors. I always, always, always have a theme - that's what makes the planning fun - and write down any and all ideas that go with that theme. Often I list, narrow down, finalize, and throw out multiple themes before actually choosing one and running with it. I've thought up a 70's-themed party and a spa day that never came to be. But I've also planned a successful board-game themed party for my little brother and a fun Alice In Wonderland Sweet Sixteen Unbirthday for myself.
|A Tangled/Rapunzel party I planned for two preschool sisters.|
Time eras make great themes, too. Victorian teas, 70's-themed sleepovers, and Wild West birthday parties can all be lots of fun. Keep in mind the number and age of guests, where you're having the party, and the type of party: all-day, an afternoon, a sleepover.
Once you have a theme, all you really need is Google. Just type in your theme (example: Tangled Rapunzel party) and list all the ideas you find that would work for your party. Make sure to bookmark any tutorials or photos you might need later. Narrow your lists down to one invitation, a few activities, one or two 'entertainment' ideas, a few favors if you want them, and a reasonable amount of food and decorations.
Now you're ready to actually get started. Most of my parties are very DIY - and, yes, you can tell that many things are homemade. But it saves money and makes the party more fun and personal for me. Make a list of everything you'll make and another of everything you'll buy. Then make a separate list of the supplies you'll need for homemade stuff. I generally make everything over the course of a two weeks, working in the evenings before bed. Often I play a movie or an audiobook on my computer while I work, although some more involved projects may require your full attention (and/or Internet help.)
If your party involves a lot of people, you may want to recruit some friends to help prepare. The first thing you should focus on is the invites, so you can send them out a couple weeks in advance. Once everything is made or purchased, make a schedule for the party. It doesn't have to be set in stone - just some basic ideas of when things need to happen to ensure you get to do everything you have planned. Plan to arrive at the party location early enough to set up the food, decorations, and anything else that needs setting-up. Again, a few friends will make this go a lot faster.
When the guests arrive, relax and enjoy your party! Make sure someone's around with a camera so you'll have photos of the party. Try to follow your schedule, but don't stress if problems arise. Remember, parties are intended for having fun!
P.S. This post recently showed up in my inbox, and I thought parents planning parties for their children would appreciate the child-specific tips. :)