We might just be waving goodbye to 2018, but if you’re planning a big summer party, there’s no such thing as getting started too soon. Here’s our comprehensive checklist to help you make sure everything’s covered so that on the big day, you can relax.
1. Decide the date, time and theme.
The earlier you can give guests a date to put in their calendar, the more likely it is that they won’t have anything else booked. A fixed date also gives you a clear goal to work towards and will help make firm decisions for decorations, caterers and venues.
Choosing a theme should be straightforward enough, but if you need some inspiration, take a look at these ideas. Themes don’t have to be cheesy, they just give your guests a better idea of what to expect when they arrive.
2. Book the venue
Talking of venues, it’s essential to get yours agreed ASAP. Early planning will ensure you get the best spot and once your invitees know where they need to be, they’ll be able to work out if they can get there.
Even if you’re not ready to book, get ahead of the game and do some research into possible locations. A professional planner might be able to suggest some unusual venues at competitive prices, helping you throw a stand-out bash without blowing your budget.
3. Guests and invitations
Your guest list will need to work in harmony with the capacity of your venue and your budget. Try to consider how people might group themselves and invite a balance of friendship groups, relatives, colleagues and/or plus ones. Read here for some etiquette tips on that last one – the post is tailored to weddings but works just as well for parties.
Once you have a list, select some invitations that match your theme and send them out as early as possible. Encourage them to RSVP as soon as you can, whether it’s by text, email or even by returning a yes/no slip from the invitation.
4. Dress code
Summer parties are often more casual than winter events, partly so guests can keep cool! If you want people to dress a certain way (perhaps to keep it in-keeping with your theme), try to be considerate of the summer heat and give them plenty of warning.
5. Guest travel and accommodation
Don’t neglect to think about how your guests will get to your venue, and whether it will be more convenient for some people to stay overnight. Is there reasonably priced accommodation nearby? Is there a variety of parking, taxis and public transportation to help people get there?
6. Check the weather
Keep an eye on local weather forecasts as the event date approaches. If you’re planning to party outdoors, will you have a marquee that can accommodate everyone if there’s a brief shower? What if there’s bad weather the week before and the ground becomes muddy? Try to have a contingency in case of wet or windy weather.
Do you want a buffet, or a set menu? One full meal or lots of ongoing nibbles? Can you find catering that plays on your theme? Depending on the formality of your party, different options might be appropriate – as long as you feed your guests one way or another!
Make sure you set a reasonable amount of your budget aside for food, and pay attention to any special dietary requirements. You might want to include space on your invitations for guests to make a note of particular allergies or preferences (such as vegetarianism, veganism, coeliac etc.).
If you’re hiring a proper venue then things like plates, chairs, cutlery and glasses should all be taken care of. If not, source a local hire company that can provide everything you need. You can start arranging this as soon as everyone has given you an RSVP, just remember to include a few spares.
9. Health and safety
Depending on the size of your event, you may need to prepare a few safety precautions in case someone gets injured or falls ill. Hopefully everything will run smoothly, but it’s a good idea to have an emergency plan. Particularly pay attention to fire safety (exits and extinguishers), first aid and emergency services access.
10. Music and entertainment
Save everyone from a party that falls flat by making sure there are lots of things to keep your guests entertained. A live band or DJ is great for an upbeat affair, although a decent sound system linked to a computer is a cost-effective alternative. What about party games, or a live performer?
Remember that guests are going to enjoy different things depending on their age, the overall tone of the event and what you’ve got them wearing. Setting up a limbo line for people in ballgowns might not go too well!
When you’re trying to create a memorable event, it’s easy to get swamped in the details. Hiring an experienced party planner isn’t always necessary, but can certainly help to get everything done. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself on the night – don’t let yourself get so caught up in managing things that you don’t have any time to actually relax!