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Throw the ultimate party with this event planning / party checklist

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Event planning takes time, creativity, and the ability to stay organised. 

Hopefully, this checklist can help you.  

Please feel free to use, adapt, and even improve on it!

Planning a party should be a process with carefully defined steps

That goes for any type of party, be it a corporate rugby party or a birthday party for kids. 

Parties, corporate events, anything with more than around 10 people, will take time and effort to get right.  

Our checklist should help keep you on track. Not every step is relevant for every party, but keeping them in mind it will make you a better party planner in no time. 

Follow this checklist to make sure you don’t skip some important steps, like getting enough food for everyone. You don’t want “hangry” guests!

Photo Credit: Hereford Kitchen

As early as possible:

Date & time: Agree on the date and time for your party/event. Try to schedule the event so that it doesn’t conflict with any major celebrations, holidays, or festivals. This way, you’ll have a better chance of people showing up.

Venue: Where will your event take place? Will it be outside or inside? At someone’s house, a restaurant, a pub, or the local park? 

Theme: Decide on whether there’s going to be a theme. What’s the occasion? Is it to mark a specific event or “just because.” Will people need to dress up in formal wear or costumes?

People: Start making a tentative guest list. This might help you decide location and budget.

Food and Drink menu: Will you serve food and drinks? Will people have to bring their own? Start thinking of your potential catering options and styles – grazing table, private chef, self service, canapes.  Don’t forget to check out the options that Hooley provides too, there are some great options on there.

Help / staff: Decide whether you’re flying solo or will have other people helping you plan and run this party. Gather a team and agree on who’s responsible for what aspect of the party planning.

Finance: What costs can you expect for renting a place, buying food, paying for entertainment, staff, etc. Is this a ticketed event or a celebration you’re paying for.  Most importantly – stick to your budget

One month prior:

Schedule: Time to start preparing a more detailed outline of the party programme. Will there be party games? Other entertainment in the form of a live band, a DJ, some dancers, and so on? Try to put together a rough schedule of the day.

Equipment / gear: Now that you have an idea of the programme, it’s time to take stock of what equipment you’ll need. Decor, furniture, signage, even games your guests can play. Will your entertainers bring their own equipment or will you provide some of it? 

Venue: It’s also time to secure the venue for your party. Make sure you book the restaurant, have a signed contract with the conference hall, booked the marquee or bell tents or whatever is applicable in your case.

Vendors / suppliers: Similarly, make sure to start shortlisting vendors and negotiating agreements on food delivery, flower arrangements, balloons, and so on. Hooley might have just what you’re looking for, or something you didn’t even know existed

Event page: Create an event page for your party that brings all of the above together. It should outline the key details about your party – time, place, programme, and so on. Usually, your event page is also where you’ll be keeping track of RSVPs.

Invitations: Send out invitations to your guest list. There are some awesome free online invitations options so check that out as an option.  Ensure your RSVP gives you enough time to plan with your suppliers and keep an eye on your budget.

Photo Credit: Raj Tent Club

Two weeks before:

Confirm vendors and suppliers: Make sure that all of the vendors have confirmed their deliveries and everything is on track. You don’t want any surprises like missing cake or decorations.

Purchase list: Do the shopping for all the smaller things you’re getting on your own

Logistics: Start thinking of things like seating plans and the physical layout of the venue. Where will people park? Through which door will the catering crew deliver the food? Is there a stage for the DJ or the band? A dance floor? Is there a wardrobe for people to leave their coats? Do you need to pre book transport to get your guests home safely?

One week before:

Prepare a playlist: If you don’t have a DJ and are taking care of the music yourself, now’s the time to put together a playlist for the party.

Safety check: Make sure all the safety equipment is in place and working fine. Is there a clearly visible fire escape plan? Are all the necessary inspections carried out?  Have you discussed any relevant topics with council or any other governing bodies?

One day before:

Prepare the venue: Arrange the furniture, make sure wireless Internet is working fine, and test the sound equipment. 

Buy perishables: Stock up on last-minute perishables like fruit, ice, and so on.

Do a dry run: If you can, do a run-through of the day with the vendors and your team to make sure everyone knows exactly what to do during the party. Give them your schedule so everyone knows what everyone is doing

Photo Credit: Happea Events Native Plant Styling

On the day:

Setup: Set the tables, put out the welcome drinks, do a final sound check, and generally take care of getting all the last-minute things in place.

Catering: Let in the catering crew and make sure they have all they need to start preparing and serving food. If you’re doing this yourself, ensure you’ve enlisted help.  It can be a big job

Photo & video: Have someone on your team (or a professional) documenting the party by taking photos and capturing memorable videos to share with the guests afterwards.

After the party is over:

Cleanup: Have your team disassemble all the equipment, put the furniture back in its place, take down the decorations, and clean the venue.

The idea with this list is to form it to suit your needs.  

Each time you use a list such as this, adapt it based on how effective it has been for you, and then revisit regularly.  

Over time, you’ll have a master list of suppliers and vendors as well.  Simply ‘Join up’ on Hooley (its free) and you can save your favourite vendors so you never lose them again – its like your little black book for all types of future parties, gatherings and events.

www.hooley.co.nz