The Ultimate Party Checklist for Your Perfect Event
The key to a perfect event is preparation and planning. Start early and cover all contingencies. Set mini-goals and follow our detailed steps to meet them. We don’t promise an effortless process with our Ultimate Party Checklist. After all, success takes work. But as you may have heard — anything worth doing is worth doing well. Our event checklists and guide will provide the direction you need to help design and carry off an event to be proud of.
Covering the Basics
Obviously, before you start planning your event, you need to identify the type of party you’re throwing. Are you celebrating a birthday, commemorating a special occasion, or throwing a holiday gala? Then decide on how many guests you plan to invite. Establishing a budget is also an essential first step. The size of your event and how much you have to spend affects everything else. Address all the basics before you start working on event specifics.
Breaking It Down
The following steps may seem basic. But taking care of all the details — from smallest to biggest — helps ensure success. So, pull out a notebook or open a blank document on your tablet or laptop, and get down to the business of party planning. Start by answering the following questions.
Top 10 Party Overview Topics
- Purpose: Identify what the event is for. What’s the reason for the party?
- Event Type: Who is the party for? Is this a business event, recreational, or a combination?
- Budget: How much do you have to spend? Budgeting an event is challenging. Calculators and budget estimators can help. There are also various guides to help you determine refreshment needs and costs.
- Invitees: How many guests would you like to attend? Who are you inviting — co-workers, neighbors, friends, family? Is this an adult-only event or a family affair? If children are invited, what accommodations do you need?
- Venue: Where is the event being held? Are you having it at your home? Is it an indoor or outdoor event? Do you need to rent a venue?
- Theme: Is there a party theme? If so, what is it? Does it require special decorations and lighting? What equipment and supplies will you need to purchase and/or rent? Is it a holiday theme or one that’s unique? You may need to order some decorations in advance.
- Food and Refreshments: What’s the menu? Are you cooking or catering? Are you serving alcohol? Will it be an open or cash bar?
- Entertainment: Does your event need entertainment? Will there be music, dancing, performances, or games?
- Professional Help: Are you hiring help, such as waitstaff or bartenders? Do you need rental supplies? What about a band or a DJ? If the party is at your home, do you want to schedule a cleaning crew beforehand?
- Date: When are you holding the event? How much time do you have to plan?
Once you’ve answered all these questions, you’re ready to set up a timeline for your perfect event with our party checklist.
Creating a Timeline
An early start is vital to event planning success. The bigger the party, the more time you need to plan, schedule, prep, and reserve vendors and supplies. For small, informal gatherings, two weeks is probably adequate. But when planning a larger event, start at least six weeks in advance for best results. Take the first two weeks to do your research. This helps prevent unwelcome surprises that may derail your party.
Adapt the following timeline checklists to best meet your party planning needs.
Formal Event Checklist
6 Weeks Before:
☐ Complete the “Top 10 Party Overview Topics” section.
☐ Begin researching vendors.
☐ If others are helping, start assembling your party planning team.
5 Weeks Before:
☐ Set the event date.
☐ Begin compiling a guest list.
☐ Make a list of desirable venues.
☐ Create your menu.
☐ Create a list of needed items and equipment.
☐ Inventory your party supplies to identify what to buy and/or rent.
4 Weeks Before:
☐ Secure your venue.
☐ Mail or email invitations.
☐ Hire your caterer.
☐ Book your rental supplies.
☐ Reserve the staffing help you need.
☐ Order difficult-to-find or high-demand party theme items.
☐ Hire any other necessary vendors.
☐ Design a timeline outline for all your planned party activities. (cocktails, appetizers, dinner, dancing, presents, presentations, music, games, or other entertainment)
3 Weeks Before:
☐ Create a seating plan, if needed.
☐ Arrange flower delivery.
☐ Book entertainment.
2 Weeks Before:
☐ Confirm your vendors.
☐ Buy the remaining items you need for your event.
☐ Select your attire for the party.
1 Week Before:
☐ Check RSVPs and follow-up with the invitees who haven’t replied.
☐ Confirm door management for greeting, taking coats, and tracking the guest list.
1 Day Before – Party Day:
☐ Accept supply deliveries.
☐ Direct vendors to where they’re needed.
☐ Set up tables and seating and perform other final venue preparation.
☐ Oversee any last-minute checks and arrangements.
☐ Enjoy your event and accept all the compliments for a job well-done!
Informal Party Checklist
2-3 Weeks Before:
☐ Decide what type of party you’re having.
☐ Choose a theme.
☐ Set a date.
☐ Create a guest list.
☐ Create your menu.
2 Weeks Before:
☐ Send out invitations or call to invite guests.
☐ Create a shopping list for the party food.
1 Week Before:
☐ Create an outline for any planned party activities.
☐ Purchase the ingredients for recipes you’re making early.
☐ If it’s potluck, coordinate dishes with your guests.
☐ If you’re buying a cake, order it now.
☐ Make a food preparation timeline for cooking, freezing, thawing, and reheating.
☐ Start cooking any party dishes that you can freeze beforehand.
4 Days Before:
☐ Create a playlist if you’re providing music.
☐ Check the condition of any games you’re playing.
☐ Purchase games or crafts, if needed.
☐ If you’re using disposable items, buy paper plates, plastic cups, and silverware.
1-2 Days Before
☐ Buy any perishable items your party requires.
☐ Clean your house.
☐ Do any necessary yard work.
☐ Wash dishware and cutlery your guests will use.
☐ Stock your bar.
☐ Inform your neighbors of the upcoming party. This can help prevent misunderstandings over noise and parking.
☐ Purchase ice.
☐ Chill beverages.
☐ Decorate and assemble any party favors.
☐ Set the table or arrange the buffet.
☐ Garnish party platters.
☐ Follow your food prep/reheating outline.
☐ Set out extra trash cans.
☐ Do a final bathroom check for potential problems or oversights.
☐ Check your medicine cabinet and secure any prescriptions you want out of reach.
☐ Arrange any extra seating you’ve planned.
☐ Set up the bar.
☐ Enjoy all your work and have fun!
A special event is more successful with vendor services. Turn to professionals for music, entertainment, catering, flowers, lighting, linens, and other vital party equipment and supplies. Comparing vendor rates and customer reviews is important in choosing the best suppliers. The following tips will help you find desirable vendors and suppliers for your event.
- Make a list of what you need from vendors.
- Ask friends and co-workers for recommendations.
- Research them online.
- Contact the vendors you like. Tell them what you need and ask for quotes.
- Be sure your preferred choices can meet your demands and timeline.
- Consider more than price. The right vendor offers value for the money. Customer services are key, and online reviews can help narrow your options.
No party checklist or guide can address everything. Your event is like no other. It likely reflects a lot of your personality. So, when in doubt, rely on your own judgment. Be prepared, but don’t overthink things. Have an open mind and embrace creative solutions for unplanned issues. The following tips are helpful suggestions. Apply them and adapt them, as needed.
- It’s hard to accurately predict how many people will attend your event. But a general rule-of-thumb predicts a 60% to 75% turnout. More women than men usually show up.
- No RSVP doesn’t mean a no-show. In fact, only about 30% of the guests who show send one. So, be sure to follow-up with the invitees who haven’t responded.
- Plan the room layout to help people visit and mingle. Don’t crowd too many tables together.
- For small gatherings, set out fewer chairs than you need. It encourages interaction between the guests.
- During cold weather, arrange space for coats.
- Have club soda on-hand for spills and stains.
- Consider your guests’ special dietary needs. Food labels help.
- Don’t set all the refreshments together. Use separate food and drink stations. Your guests can more easily access everything this way.
- For mixed-age groups, create a kid-friendly table or station.
- The right lighting can make a huge impact.
- Eat a snack or a light meal before your guests arrive.
- Set the party start time for yourself 30 minutes early. This gives you valuable extra time.
- Perform a final safety check before the party starts. Look for spills, tripping hazards, and other potential dangers.
What If Your Event Is a Wedding?
For an occasion as momentous as a wedding, turn to a pro. Hire a wedding planner or a wedding coordinator. First of all, it will reduce anxiety. Planning a wedding is overwhelming and can make the bride and groom miserable. Wedding planners help execute dream weddings with minimal stress.
Here are some other benefits:
- Provide a custom wedding planning checklist and schedule.
- Help you stay within budget.
- Recommend quality vendors.
- Communicate with vendors and troubleshoot problems.
- Schedule meetings, rehearsals, and consultations.
- Provide help and inspiration for wedding design.
- Coordinate details on your wedding day.
There are so many advantages to letting a professional plan and coordinate your wedding and no good reason not to.
Enjoy the Big Day!
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. If you’re not a professional party planner, this event is meant to be fun for you, too! Our party planning guide should help you do that. Just remember to start planning early. Our event planning tips, guidelines, and party checklists are designed to help you remember important details for the big day. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family members might be eager to assist. They’re just waiting for you to reach out to them.
You should also turn to professionals for special events. The dedicated team at Linen Hero is happy to help. We offer a full line of chair covers and linens to help make your event a beautiful affair. View our brochure for detailed information on our products. Happy party planning!