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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Party Planner Worksheet

Its the entertaining season and there are lots of parties to plan!  Keep all your party details together with the help of a party planning notebook.  A key element in that notebook is the party planning worksheet.  This is where every party begins! 

The party planning worksheet is broken down into four categories; basic information, guests, d.e.t.a.i.l.s, and notes.

Just as the title suggest, there is where I write down key event information such as Date, Time, Title of Event and Location.  It's crazy how many times I need to reference the date and time when I'm talking with vendors or guests.  It's so helpful to have it written down.  I'm also surprised how often I refer back to events and need to know specific details, such as the year it took place.  Writing down the title is also helpful.  It's easy to jot down, "Jacob's 7th Birthday", or "Rasmussen Girls Cousins' Night Out".

Before I do any party planning I have to know how many people I'm inviting.  At the least, I need a general idea of the number of people who might attend.  The number of guests can dictate the space, the budget, the food, and lots of other details.

I've learned to separate the guest list as Adults and Children.  The needs of an adult guest and a child guest are different.  I also prepare food and activities differently depending on whether or not my guests are adults or children. 

(Remember when you're planning food to consider how much food a child will consume. Often I'll count two children as one adult, for food planning purposes.)

3. D.E.T.A.I.L.S
The next part of the worksheet has seven sub-categories.  This section is the core of the event. It's the fun part!  This is where I write down theme ideas, how I'll use a great recipe, a fun decor idea, activity suggestions, and what great song can tie it all together.  

I work fluidly between the sections.  For example, an idea for a recipe can affect how you set the table and what colors you use.  Sometimes working in this detail section is how a theme or style choice emerges.  This is where I start to flesh out ideas and think through how all the party elements will work together. 

I'm a visual learner.  When planning the decor for an event I often use this part of the worksheet to sketch ideas.  I also draw a diagram of the space here so I can picture where I'm going to put things.  I'm a big fan of fresh flowers.  If I'm using flowers, this is where I'll note that.  

If I'm planning on a bounce house, this is where I write down the contact information to rent it.  When I'm helping my sister track down a harpist for her wedding, I make notes of that in the entertainment section.  Or, if I know we are going to have an airplane flying contest for my 12 year-old's birthday, then this is where I make a note to buy airplanes. 

Table Setting
Whether its paper & plastic, fine china, or everyday serving ware, this section is about noting what I'm going to need to serve food. When possible I like to set my table in advance, and I always arrange my serving dishes in advance.  That way there are no surprises on the day of the event.  I'm not scrambling to find a serving bowl or realizing that I don't have any utensils to serve the food.  

The food category is where I work through menu ideas. It's helpful to write them all down in one place so I can see how things will pair together.  This section is also where I make notes of any guest's food allergies.

The invite sets the tone for the event.  There are so many places to find invites and a variety to choose from. Invites can be casual, formal, ornate or simple.  Of course it's important to  include all the party details.  Also remember that the invitation serve as a first impression of what the guests can expect for the event.

Linger Longers
Not every event calls for favors.  For example, I wouldn't need favors for a neighborhood pot luck or the ladies brunch, but I include this favors category so I can remember when I need to pick up party bags. It's always helpful to start thinking, well in advance, what I want the guests to take-away with them.  I love including this sections so I can remember.

Music is the secret ingredient for setting the mood and creating a great ambiance. I've learned the hard way that planning for music needs to be done before the first guest arrives.  A quiet room can make everyone uncomfortable. Great background music, on the other hand, makes everything feel festive and inviting.

I wish I could say that every event and party is flawless.  Ha!  Not quite.  At the end of the event I often  find myself saying "Next time I'll…" or "In the future I'll to remember to…"  This is a great place to write down those suggestions.  It's also a great place to write went well.  Notes like "Use this vendor again…" or "Loved this recipe…" are helpful when I'm looking back and trying to figure out what to do for the next event.  

I wouldn't plan an event without my Party Planning Worksheet.  Its an easy, helpful way to keep your party ideas and plans in one place. Its a must-have for every party planner.


  1. You're the best party planner! I would love to flip through your party planning binder to get some ideas!

    1. Rachel! I was so delighted to find that picture of us from your bridal shower. Doesn't it feels like yesterday? Thanks for your nice words. Throwing a party for someone as lovely as you, is simply a pleasure.