October 2023 by Sheologie
How To Plan A Party!
Steps to planning any size of party in one checklist. This list will ensure your money and efforts are allocated to the right areas to maximize your time and effort. Every party has a budget and theme. I hope to bring every gathering to its fullest experience while leaving you, the host, time to sit and enjoy. It’s always been a delight of mine to sit back at one point of any gathering I host and watch my guests’ overall flow and delight.
As many of you know, I have been entrusted for years here at Calvary to create and drill down the details for every bible study and special event. This is my thought process and heart behind everything I do at Calvary and in my celebrations.
Steps To Planning Any Party, Big or Small!
Step one: I always ask myself a series of questions: who is it for? What do they LOVE? What haven’t they seen? What’s one way to make it a memorable event (wow, factor!)? What will make it awkward? How do we honor each guest? I know it’s a lot of questions, but these questions lead to the most memorable and joy-inspired celebrations for your guests and yourself. I refer to my celebration checklist of questions for movie nights at my house, team parties (my kid’s sports teams), on-the-fly celebrations, Quinceanera, weddings, milestone birthdays, and every other reason.
Step two: what memory do you want to leave? Remember, this celebration, party, or random get-together is for you and a way to display your love for those around you. I love to grab a cup of coffee and a notepad and sit and talk with God by praying and asking in prayer (yes, my eyes are open; it’s a conversation prayer). As I sit there, I ask about the person/people, the event, and His people (church events), and I think about what captures who they are or what they need.
Step three: Review the Celebration Checklist and remember to have a blast doing it. Don’t discount starting at cost-effective stores first for inspiration. Once I have my budget, theme/venue, and food in mind, I head to the following places: my house (yes, look in those cupboards, the things you have around your home; don’t forget to peek in the kid’s rooms or backyard for inspo), my mom’s house (a major honey hole, maybe for you it’s your besties house or grandma’s), the Dollar Tree and Amazon. Honestly, I have planned so many parties from these simple places. My next stop would be Ross and TJ MAX; I am always in party planning low gear. I mean, always be on the lookout for fabulous finds. Ross, TJMAXX, and Home Goods have the best random paper goods and party supplies.
Step four: think through the wow factor! This is my all-time favorite part of planning; this is what people will remember the most. I know that’s a lot of pressure, but relieve it with the excitement of creating this experience for them. Think of it like this: it’s like the ice sculpture of the party. It’s captivating, photo or share-worthy, and has a purpose for the guest(s) of honor or the people coming. It’s a secret way to say, “Yeah, I was planning with you in mind.”
“No Competition” Party Planning Rule
Lastly, I’ll share my “no competition” party planning rule. Don’t compete with your last celebration or something you found online. Plan for every occasion as it’s a work of art waiting to be created. It is an expression of love and thoughtfulness. Have an absolute blast planning the most low-key to the most high-end experience and anything in between celebrations. There is not enough time to share all the fun I have had planning events and celebrations, so I’ll end with my most recent party idea for my son, who turned 15.
What does every teen want for their birthday? Money! I don’t blame them. They have a lot of things in their Amazon shopping carts: new style trends, things to try, and things to buy. I also know that about 15 years from now, the most essential part of his birthday party will be the memories. The memory will be his family, grandparents, cousins, and friends. So, what’s a mama to do? It’s not a milestone birthday, and he sees his friends all the time, his hockey team, so how could we celebrate, I thought to myself (the coffee and notepad part-convo with Jesus).
The Checklist Process
I returned to my Steps 1 and 2 and found what he needed most, with college only a few years away. He needed family traditional food, family, and lifelong memories. With that in mind, I devised a “Reverse Birthday”. A Reverse Birthday is totally made up, so I encourage you to make new ways and terms for any celebration you plan. A Reverse Birthday is where the guest digitally sends a monetary gift or pledges the amount they will give as a birthday gift. The host, in this case, the birthday teen (my son), would, in return, take this money and buy all his birthday gifts. He would oversee wrapping them and writing each guest a thank you card in the form of a birthday card.
Reverse Party Details
When it’s time to open gifts, the host/birthday teen will give each guest a gift to open and see what they got him. My parents and immediate family were invited (guest list) and were delighted to see him get just what he wanted and were so excited to unwrap the gifts they bought him (the wow factor!). Plus, my son wrapped the gifts with extra laugh factors, like kiddy farm paper, wrapped in taped impossible to open, recycled gift bags way off theme. I added an extra step since this was my made-up idea. I decided to split the money to purchase something from each family member. For instance, my aunt, a single mom, has two girls; my son bought three gifts and individually wrapped them so they each had got him something. It was a fun and honoring way to show them we’re grateful for them and their monetary gift sent in advance (Honor your guests; some use the idea of a party favor/loot bags).
My son’s 15th birthday was memorable down to the menu we selected, which was cabbage burgers (A German recipe; my husband is German/Irish), broccoli and cheddar soup (pairs well with the main dish and is a family tradition from their mid-western roots a restaurant called Runza’s) and his birthday cake which was not cake at all it was his favorite, pumpkin pie. The theme of his gifts was items purchased for this truck. This truck was gifted to him by his grandpa, who passed away seven years ago. After opening presents, we drove his “new” truck into the garage and placed chairs around so the family could partake as my son and family fixed up his truck. My dad (his Papa) installed one of his gifts, a touch-screen radio, while others installed the brake lights, headlights, and seat covers. Some just sat back as we listened to the newly created “truck playlist” my son made for the party. At the end of the evening, we ended the night with Root beer floats to toast the occasion.
My heart in sharing this information is to give you the tips and tricks to make any occasion a reason to celebrate. A celebration should never go uncelebrated due to cost or planning. Remember, you have a community around you to help you, and certainly have a friend in you. Contact me if you want party planning advice or to hire me for your event (I offset my time with a small fee, but you’ll know upfront). Email Franchesca.email@example.com in the subject line, type your name, and add the word “Celebration.” Add any details you have or the celebration you have in mind.
Sincerely, your community celebration partner,
- 20% Wow, factor
- 20% Venue, Music, Rentals
- (If not needed, reduce your budget because why not save $$ or add to Drinks, Décor and Food
- 30% Food
- 10% Drinks
- 20% Décor (Plates, etc., on theme/vibe)
- Guest List:
- Family or Friends: 10 or less
- Close Family: 20 or less
- Family and Friends: 75 or less
- Get creative with your space.
- Small Venue
- Acquittances, Family and Friends: 100 and up
- Large Space or Venue
- Gala and Gatherings: 600 and up
- Large Venue
- Your Home (always start here honestly; your home is the most loving place and a cool expression of you next adjust according to size or desired experience)
- Make a playlist and download it.
- Plan for no music
- Band, Musician, or DJ (my favorite site to book music talent gigsalad.com)
- Functional food service- order and plan with a flow
- Full Meal- Self-serve, Catered, or Buffet
- Potluck- Food-safe temps, Plug-ins, Main Dishes, Sides, Desserts
- Charcuterie board
- Family Style
- Cook Together
- Hibachi Chef
- Real Dishes (Yes, nothing says I love you so much you are worth the clean-up)
- Sectioned plates- great for BBQ or Mexican food
- Clear cup (great for beautiful drinks)- Fruit, on theme with color or fun ice cubes
- Boxes or containers (Not just for leftovers to go but to serve in)
- Feeling or vibe:
- Silly/Fun/Low key
- You get it; google the vibe you want to create. There are millions.
- Schedule of Events or Itinerary:
- (I only recommend designing this for your guests if you need to keep an order or flow for special elements. However, as a host, this is always a great thing to have so you know how to keep the celebration in good rhythm.)
- Style (This is one of my favorite things; this is a sneak peek of the event)
- Text Invite (Text thread, one-to-one, Family or social groupings)
- Details are loving *refer to the expectations.
- RSVP or Regrets
- Plus one or Plus NONE!
- Just come, see you there!
- Blended Families
- Split Occasions
- Details are loving *refer to the expectations.
- The Expectation:
- Ensure your guests know what’s required of them; it sounds weird, but it’s so loving to be in the “know.” It’s so uncomfortable when your guests arrive and don’t know where to park, what to wear, what time food is served, what gifts or no gifts to bring. Don’t feel rude or awkward; it’s your party, and you have a plan (wink). If they are coming, then they want to play along, so let them in on the expectations.
- Dress for the Occasion:
- PJ Party, Low-Key, Color Theme, Tones, Eras, Elegant, Business Casual, come as you are.
- Wow Factor:
- Paint night, sports night, board games, movies, photo booth- you don’t have to spoil it, but you can use clever words to give them a heads-up.
- The Little Things that make a big difference:
- Heat, windy or freezing, seasonal.