Use this party planning timeline for your next formal party or a family get-together. Use a special notebook to keep track of party details and ideas to help plan your best party yet.
1-2 Months Before:
Decide on the type of party you would like to host. A more formal party would require more preparation while an informal get together may require less time. Be sure to take this into consideration when planning your specific party. Set the date, time and location and stick to it. Try to chose a date that works for you and majority of your guests. If most of your guests work during the week, a Wednesday night party may not be the best choice.
Prepare your guest list and decide how many guests you can reasonably accommodate.
You can either mail or e-mail invitations, or even call guests to personally invite them. This would also be a good time to ask guests to RSVP by a specific date. Decide what table settings, decorations, centerpieces, and music you'll use. This is the fun part of party planning.
3 Weeks Before:
Choose the menu and decide what recipes you would like to prepare and what items you would like to buy. Organize recipes you plan to use and make a list of items you would like to purchase and where. You may want to clip coupons to lower your cost for bulk items or food items you will need. Buying in bulk at price clubs can also be economical. Also use this time to try out any recipes you want to troubleshoot in advance.
Arrange to borrow, rent, or buy table linens and other items that you might need, such as platters, glasses, and flatware. If you are planning to utilize services such as a bartender or a photographer, contact them, set the date and sign a contract.
2 Weeks Before:
Purchase wine and liquor if you plan to serve it. If friends or family have offered to bring a dish to share, let them know what to make. Set the table, as a trial run, to make sure you have all the dishes and utensils you’ll need.
1 Week Before:
You should contact guests who have not yet RSVP’d at this time. Also, follow up with guests who have offered to bring a dish. Make space in the refrigerator or freezer so you’ll have room to store groceries. Now would be a good time to prepare recipes that keep well for up to a week.
2-3 Days Before:
Purchase all remaining non-perishables. Check over recipes and make sure that you have all food and drink items you decided to serve.
1 Day Before:
Place any frozen food in the refrigerator to defrost overnight and assemble any foods that can be made in advance.
5 to 7 Hours Before:
Decorate for the party and decide what decorations should go where. Do any last minute cleaning, arrange your tables and set your serving areas. Prepare the dishes so that everything will finish when needed. Make sure all the foods and beverages to be served cold will be chilled by party time.
Up to 1 Hour Before:
Finish preparing the food and do any final touchups. Set out appetizers, light the candles and turn on music. Lastly, smile and be ready to host a great party!