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Party Planning Made Simple

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.

  • Make party organizing simple by starting a checklist well in advance. Your goal is to be a calm host/hostess and enjoy your own party!

Decide on a theme

  • Dictates your budget and the feel of your party.
  • Guides your food, drinks, and invitations.
  • Green themes mean bringing donations for a charity

Decide on the who, when, and where

  • Establish a budget
  • Keep all receipts and information in a notebook or binder especially if youíll be repeating the event.
  • Include dates of when you want to complete certain tasks.


  • Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks; use non-carbonated base for punches.
  • Provide a hot and cold selection for all ages.
  • Bottled drinks are nice, but pricey, and waste is higher.
  • Hiring a bartender? Choose a reliable bartender who abstains from alcohol at the party and who can keep track of who is of legal age and the size and number of drinks that guests consume.


  • Plan for appetizers, entrees, desserts: have old favorites and new recipes; healthy and indulgent.
  • Doing it yourself? Donít go shopping without a list.
  • Check your own food supplies first. Donít guess.
  • Prepare as many of the items or ingredients ahead of time to save time. Freeze whatever can be frozen.
  • Hiring a caterer? Have a budget in mind, consider your guests, sit-down or buffet, and consider preparing some of the food yourself to cut costs.

Go through your own supplies first

  • Do this well in advance to avoid excess, to spread out the cost, and to stay on budget.
  • Take inventory of paper supplies, dry goods, and decorations.

Have large spaces?

  • Use stations of certain types of food so folks mingle: drinks in the kitchen, appetizers in the dining room, desserts in the den, etc.
  • If you want folks to stay in certain areas, close doors to certain rooms.

Have small space?

  • Take all unnecessary furniture from the rooms.
  • Reorganize your furniture to allow guests to put down drinks if theyíll be standing.


  • Buy invitations, print your own, use e-mail or use SendOutCards.com.
  • Send well in advance so guests can plan ahead.
  • Give details so there are no questions: attire, ending time, etc.

Invite small children?

  • Consider hiring a teenager to play games or complete a craft with the children and provide them with a fun evening.
  • Prepare an inexpensive, age-related goody bag for children.

Want a non-commercial focus?

  • Have guests bring a canned good or clothing for a local adult or animal shelter
  • Ask guests to bring a donation for a local charity.

Want instant elegance?

  • Drape tables with floor length tablecloths and hide unneeded items underneath.
  • Play soft music in background.
  • Drape chairs with fabric and tie with bows.
  • Clear countertops and surfaces to give the illusion of simplicity: donít make guests reach past the toaster to find the bruschetta!
  • Hang tiny lights to add an air or sophistication.

Want to watch expenses?

  • Bring the outside in to decorate: holly, pine cones, evergreens
  • Use your holiday cards, ornaments, and wrapping paper for decorations.
  • Have family and friends each bring a favorite dish and bring the recipe to hand out to guests!


Vali Heist is a Professional Organizer, the owner of The Clutter Crew for homeowners, and a Certified GO System Trainer for businesses. She also writes a monthly column for the Reading Eagle called 'Ask the Organizer' and has a radio program called 'Organize This!' on BoomerGenerationRadio.com.

Vali's bachelor's degree is in Business Administration from Shippensburg University and her Master's Degree is in Higher Education from Kutztown University. Vali has an extensive background of 24 years in Higher Education including training, administration, project management, writing, and editorial production.

Her passion has always been organization and how it relates to the simplification of work and personal life in order to enjoy both to the fullest. Her ultimate goal is to continue finding simple, easy to implement ideas that work in the real world and pass them on to her clients.

Member Of:

  • Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Greater Philadelphia Chapter of National Association of Professional Organizers
  • National Association of Professional Organizers

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