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Party Planning Checklist

Party planning checklist to keep you organized!

Don’t panic if you don’t have 4 to 6 weeks to plan your party; the timing is just a helpful guide and to-do list. 

4 to 6 Weeks Before:

  • Set the party/event date
  • Prepare your guest list
  • Mail invitations or e-mail invitations (we like Evite Party Invitations), or call guests to invite them
  • Plan party menu and grocery list (or hire a caterer/reserve a function room/restaurant)
    • Will you need serving help?
  • Check out our recipes and menu ideas 
  • If needed, purchase thank you notes and stamps


3 Weeks Before:

  • Create a timeline for preparing your chosen recipes
  • Try out any new recipes to make sure they’re as tasty as they sound
  • Prepare any items that can be frozen
  • Arrange to borrow, rent, or buy serving pieces and other items that you might need, such as platters, glasses, flatware, table linens, a sound system, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Plan and select decorations, party theme supplies and hostess gifts (if any)
  • Enlist other family members or friends in helping with party preparations and on party day
  • Plan party activities (birthday presents and cake for example)


1 Week Before:

  • Set the table, as a trial run, to make sure you have all the dishes and serving utensils you’ll need
  • Call or e-mail guests who have not yet RSVP’d to see if they plan to attend, and also follow up with guests who have offered to bring a menu item
  • Make space in the refrigerator or freezer so you’ll have room to store groceries
  • Confirm all arrangements (rentals, catering, etc.)
  • If the party is in your home, start cleaning now instead of the day before the party


4 Days Before:

  • Purchase all remaining groceries and beverages
  • Prepare and freeze/refrigerate food items that can be made in advance
  • Select/purchase your outfit


1 Day Before:

  • Purchase any last minute perishables, such as salad greens and fresh bread
  • Pick up fresh flowers (or have them delivered)/centerpieces
  • Pick up (birthday, anniversary) cake, if it is not being delivered on party date
  • Pick up and set up rental equipment, tables, tents, etc.
  • Coordinate last-minute arrangements with caterer/helpers
  • Wash and prepare salad greens and other vegetables, and blanch vegetables for crudites (keep these wrapped in paper towels). Refrigerate all separately, in airtight containers.
  • Thaw frozen party foods
  • Get out serving pieces, tableware, silverware, etc.
  • Do final cleaning


Party day

  • Decorate
  • Prepare and arrange remaining food
  • Set up the bar
  • Set up dining tables (buffet table)
  • Place flower arrangements
  • Chill white wine and sparkling wine
  • Finish preparing food
  • If opening gifts at celebration, have a pen and paper, preferably a clip board nearby to track gifts received
  • Dress in party outfit



  • Place cards/name tags
  • Sign-in table with pens (if this is a large party)
  • Coat check signage
  • Gift table
  • Signage/banners: welcome sign at entrance for example
  • Balloons
  • Lighting
  • Streamers
  • Party favors
  • Guest towels, soap, extra toilet paper and supplies
  • Other: ________________________________

Party Planning Checklist Resources: and

I hope you find this list helpful.

Chief Imagination Officer & Creative Director

Haley’s Games - Scavenger Hunts, Murder Mystery Games, and Kids' Games

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