Party Planning Tips & Tricks

The season for holiday gatherings, with friends, family, and coworkers is just around the corner, or for some, already upon us.  Don’t panic!  Hosting a party doesn’t have to stress you out nor take up all of your time.  The most important thing to remember in party planning is to plan ahead so that you don’t have to do it all at once.  There are a few key elements to keep in mind, and knowing when to think about those things will help you create a delightful stress-free event for you and your guests.

One Month Before the Party

  • Start by choosing a date:  Consider other things that might be taking place for the guests you plan to invite, as well as your own schedule, and pick a date that works out best for everyone. 
  • Will you have a theme?  Decide upon a theme even if it’s as basic as a color scheme for your décor.  Holidays are quite obvious but a unique touch could be to play upon things related to the holidays, such as snow, bells, the season, lights, etc.  Think about a few ways to make your party special.
  • Determine your budget:  Based on how much you want to spend you can determine all of the other elements of your party.

Three Weeks Before the Party

  • Invite your guests:  Your invitation will make the very first impression of the party your guests will be attending.  A more intimate touch is to create handmade invitations should you have the time. 
  • Think about your party set-up and décor:  Do you have enough tables, chairs, serving utensils, space?  Rent or buy items as needed.  Decide upon how you will want to rearrange things.
  • Consider a party favor: Should you want to provide a little or extravagant party gift for your guests, place an order or go and purchase your gift bag items.

Two Weeks Before the Party

  • 1475 Plan your menu:  Weather you are having a caterer or doing it yourself, decide upon what you will serve and how.  Make your shopping list purchase what you need. If there are dishes which can be prepared in advance and frozen it’s most helpful to get that out of the way at this time.
  • Draft a timeline of your party:  From preparing your dishes, to setting up the party area, through the party and clean-up, what is your schedule going to be.  Do you have friends or family who can help?

One Week Before the Party

  • RSVP’s:  Check your guest list and follow up with anyone who has not yet sent their RSVP.
  • Stock up on beverages.
  • Create a music list:  Keep in mind that your music sets the tone of your party.  Softer music is best for the beginning as people are arriving as well as towards the end when you want to wrap things up.

A Day or Two Before the Party

  • Organize and clean everything you will need, including silverware, dishes, linens, etc.
  • Arrange party favors
  • Create place cards if you plan to have arranged seating
  • Prepare any menu items which can be refrigerated, such as salad dressings and sauces.

Party Day

  • 1476 Set up:  If you have help and give yourself a reasonable amount of time, setting up can be fun.  Arrange tables, chairs, eating area, etc.  Block off any areas you prefer guests to stay out of.  Sometimes you can block a door with an appetizer table or section off part of a room with a decorative curtain.
  • Prepare drinks and food according to the timeline you made.
  • Set the tone with lighting, music, and snacks such as a nut mix or cheese dish.
  • Plan to have everything ready about an hour before your guests arrive.  This will give you time to get dressed and relax for a few minutes before the party gets going.
  • Get dressed and enjoy your party!

Looking for a venue to host your holiday party this season?  Kidspace is available for Private Events! Imagine a most unique and creative holiday gathering within the rustic Digging Deeper Gallery or beautiful Wisteria Courtyard at Kidspace Children’s Museum. Visit our Private Events page online or contact me at (626)449-9144 x 5216 for further details.


Julianne Sando, Events Manager, has been with Kidspace since 2007 and in that time has helped implement unforgettable special events for thousands of children and families visiting Kidspace.  Prior to Kidspace, she worked as a camp counselor, after school program educator, soccer coach, and Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia.