Party Prep

Party planning is one of my absolute favorite things to do.  I’ve thrown birthday parties, bridal showers, anniversary parties… at this point, I’ve gotten it down to a science.  Let me take you through how I plan and execute the perfect party.

Referencing my party planning checklist, (I’ll link the PDF below, if you’d like one) we start with a brain dump.  Here, you are going to get all the thoughts out of your head, whether it’s relevant to the party or not.  This is where I start when concocting menu ideas, themes, etc.  Once you’ve brain dumped, you can start winnowing down your ideas. 

Next, you’ll create your guest list.  This is an essential first over venue and menu because the amount of people will determine how big of a location and how personalized or general the menu needs to be.

Once you know the guest list, you can begin finding a venue.  Keeping in mind how many guests and the theme you are using are essential for selecting the perfect location.

Once you’ve got the guest list and the venue, deciding on decorations is next.  You can’t begin work on decorations until you know the venue.  Why?  Because decorations cannot be chosen blindly.  You need to visualize the space and then map out what decorations will work.  Also, if you’ve selected a venue that’s already partially decorated, then you’ll want to ensure what you purchase doesn’t clash with what’s already there. 

Let’s take a minute and talk about some of my favorite decorations.  I always say, if you’ve got balloon garland, a banner and a cake your party is 80% complete.  I always use my banner area as the photo backdrop for guests.  A cake table is always a perfect spot for pictures of the guest of honor.  Balloon garland completely changes the look of a party.  Balloons take up so much surface area and they’re cheap so it looks as though you’ve went all out on décor when really you’ve only spent a little money on some balloons.  As far as how I create my balloon garland, here’s a tutorial:

*Please keep in mind, I’m not a professional.  I’m most likely doing it wrong, but it’s always worked out for me.

First, you’ll want a balloon pump, balloon string and balloon glue (the string and glue come as a set).  You can definitely blow them up on your own, but why?  Balloon pumps are super cheap and you can have a bag of balloons blown up in like 3 minutes.  Here’s what I use: Pump: String/Glue:

Try to blow up your balloons in different sizes.  If your garland looks too symmetrical, you’ll be able to pick out flaws.  You want it kind of random looking.  I also like to throw in some rounded looking balloons, here’s a tutorial on how to achieve that look.

Now once you’ve got all of your balloons blown up, we can begin to connect them onto our balloon string.  Only add the largest balloons to start, you’ll use the smaller ones as fillers at the end.

Once you’ve used as much balloon string as you need, we’ll begin to fill in gaps with the smaller balloons.  Here is where you’ll use the glue dots.  Keep in mind, it’s pretty difficult to remove the balloon once you’ve secured the glue dots.  They pop really easily.  So, you’ll need to check the location for the balloon before securing it with glue.

Lastly, tie up your garland in the location you want it and that’s all there is to it.  Super simple.

Back to the checklist… finally, it’s time to work on food.  A menu needs to be one of the last decisions.  It’s extremely dependent on the amount of guests and the venue.  For instance, I threw an anniversary party for my parents and I served steaks.  I was able to choose a menu that was very personalized because there were only about 15 people in attendance so cooking 15 steaks was a lot more doable than 40.  Now, typically for my children’s birthday parties I serve more buffet style food because there’s usually at least 30 guests.  Some of my favorite, easy party foods include:  a walking taco bar, pulled pork, deli meat, taco salad, pasta salad, deviled eggs.

Use this checklist when planning your party and you’ll be sure to have a calm and fun planning experience. 

Now let’s move on to the party planning timeline.

(I have a party planning PDF set you can pick up here:

2 months out:  Complete the party planning checklist

1 month out:  Send out invites and finalize the menu

Between 1 month out and 1 week out:  Start compiling decorations

1 week out:  Deep clean the house, plan your grocery list, brain dump

2 days out:  Brain dump again and grocery shop

1 day out:  Prep food, start decorating and do any last minute cleaning

Day of:  Clean the floors, finish food prep and any last minute decorating

If you plan everything correctly, you should be able to relax before the party begins!  Happy planning!


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