General Party Planning Schedule
- Up to six months or a year before the party: If you are planning a wedding or graduation party, reserve your venue and services such as catering, and DJ or band well in advance. Birthday parties don't necessarily need quite so long, but the sooner you make arrangements, the less likely you are to have your date already booked.
- Six weeks before party: Order party supplies if buying online. This will give you time to receive your supplies without rush shipping, and also have time to prepare and mail the invitations you ordered! Allow longer time for processing if you are ordering custom invitations.
- Three weeks before the party: Send out invitations.
- Two weeks before the party: Make arrangements for helpers, if you need them, such as someone to change the CDs, refill food and drinks on the serving table, and someone to help clean up before and after.
- One week before: Make a list of items needed, and purchase whatever you don't already have. Remember batteries for your camera, and film if you need it! If you are hiring services such as catering, flowers, a band or DJ, touch base again.
- Two days before: Touch base again with your helpers. Have a backup plan in case someone can't help at the last minute.
- One day before: Bake the cake, do all food preparations that can be done in advance, clean the party area, assemble party decorations and activities, make sure you have everything you need. Recruit family help for party preparations, delegate activities according to abilities. If a parent will be absent, perhaps they could decorate the cake, prepare a favorite food, or create a special party decoration that will include them in the party - and be sure to take lots of pictures. Recharge the batteries for your digital camera, and have a backup set, too, if possible.
- Day of the party: Finish food preparations, get ice if you need it, decorate, and relax a little before the party!
- After the party: Send thank-you notes for gifts received and/or special helpers.