Planning a party can be hard work, but the most difficult part is getting started. This brings us to the question, how early do you need to start planning a party?
It’s ideal if you can start planning a party around 8 weeks before the date. This is best if you’re planning a big event, so you can get everything sorted without rushing and stressing yourself out. But if you’ve left it last minute though, you can still catch up! We’ve put together a checklist of everything you need to do to plan your party. This party planning timeline will outline everything you need to do at each stage of your preparation. We’ve even created a free printable party planning checklist too! So let’s get started!
8 Weeks Before the Party
Hopefully you’ve started preparing for your event well in advance. You might know roughly when you’d like the party to be, but setting a date as early as possible is the best way to get organised. So try and pin down and exact date, the time of day and the duration of your party.
Here’s the best times and length of popular parties:
Toddler’s birthday party- 11:30-13:00 on a weekend
Kid’s birthday party- 14:00-16:00 on a weekend
Teenager’s birthday party- 15:00-18-00 on a weekend or 18:00-20:00 on a weeknight
Adult’s birthday party- 20:00 onward on a Friday or Saturday
Baby Shower- 14:00-16:00 on a weekend
Cocktail Party- 19:00 onward on a Friday or Saturday
Set your Budget
You need to know the exact amount of money you want to spend on your party before planning anything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a lot, just make sure you set a figure. If you’re on a tight budget, check out our quick tips to keeping your party costs down.
Decide on your Guest List
The number of guests you can invite often relates to your budget. Think about how many people you need, and then add more to the guest list if your budget and space allows it. Have a look at our guide to help you decide how many people to invite to your party.
Pick your Theme
A great theme makes all the difference to how much your guests will enjoy your party. Before you start thinking about food, drinks, decorations and invitations, plan your party theme in advance. Take a look at the adult 20 best party themes for some inspiration! Or if you’re planning a kid’s party, here are some ideas:
Prepare your Invitations
Once you’ve decided how many guests you’re inviting and who’s made the cut, you can start making your invitations. Handwritten invites are cute but take a long time. Emails or texts are an easy way to send an invite. But the best way of tracking who’s coming to your party is by creating a Facebook event. You can quickly send out invitations and it keeps a record of how many guests are actually coming so you don’t have to do any more work!
4 Weeks Before the Party
So you’ve sorted all the main stuff, but there’s still plenty left to do! Get all the essentials out of the way in the month before the party if you can to make sure you stay on top of everything!
Send your Invitations
If you’ve gone for personal invites, it’s time to send them out. And if you’ve not created a Facebook event yet, what are you waiting for!
You need to plan your party food and drinks about 4 weeks in advance of the day. There are plenty of options to choose from, you can either go self-catered, hire a company or ask your guests to help. For everything you need to know about catering for your party, check out our ultimate party food guide. And don’t forget to have a look at the 10 best party drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)!
Get your Shopping Sorted
The 4 week mark is a good point to get all your shopping done. You’ll need napkins, plates, cutlery, and cups. You also need to think about your decorations too. Nip to your local party supply store or head over to Amazon or Ebay!
If you’re planning a kid’s birthday party, you also need to think about getting your party bags ready. For everything you need to know, have a look at our best party bag ideas for any children’s birthday!
The earlier in advance you plan your party entertainment the better. Try and pick something that fits in with your theme. If you’re hiring a DJ you should try and book them asap to make sure you get the one you’re after. If you’re making a playlist yourself, check out our tips on making the perfect party playlist! Can’t decide? Have a look at our party music guide to figure out which option is best for you!
Ask for Help
If you need some help from your family and friends organising your party, now is the time to ask. Letting them know around 4 weeks in advance of your party is enough time for them you both to plan ahead and figure out who is doing what.
2 Weeks Before the Party
You should have all the essentials under the control at this stage, now it’s time to move onto the details. You should plan your activities and the birthday cake as soon as possible to stay organised.
This depends what type of party it is. But if you’re thinking of having any games, try and get them sorted in advance. If you’re hiring any entertainment, you should’ve already booked it at this stage, but it’s not too late to make some last minute calls.
Order the Cake
Now is the time to start thinking about the birthday cake if you need one. You can make one yourself, order one from a specialist bakery or get one from a local supermarket.
1 Week Before the Party
At this stage, you will probably have everything booked and bought in advance of your party, congrats for staying organised! But there’s still a few things you can do to take the pressure off on the day of your party.
Follow Up with your Guests
Ask any guests that have not confirmed if they’re coming to try and make a decision. Following up avoids having extra guests showing up on the day and gives you chance to get more food and supplies.
Finalise the Order of Events
Figure out the agenda for your party so you know what to do when your guests show up. Here’s an example of the order of events for a 2 hour children’s party:
- 0:00-0:20 Arrival window
- 0:20-0:45 Games and entertainment
- 0:45-1:00 Snack time!
- 1:00-1:15 Open the presents
- 1:15-1:25 Cut the cake and sing Happy Birthday
- 1:25-1:50 More games and entertainment
- 1:50-2:00 Start wrapping the party up
2 Days Before the Party
You’re almost there! There’s just a few things you need to plan 2 days in advance of your party.
Purchase the Food
If you’re purchasing your party food, now is the time to do it. It’ll still be fresh, but you won’t be stressing at the last minute.
Make the Party Bags
You should have already bought all your party bag fillers. Now it’s just time to put it all together so they’re ready well before your party.
Finish your Decorations
If you’ve decided to make your own party decorations, you should get them sorted now too!
The Day Before the Party
Just a few final touches need to be put in place in advance of your party! Cleaning Make sure your house looks tip top if you’re hosting your party at home.
Collect the Cake
Your cake should be ready now! So collect it the day before so you don’t have to rush about on the day.
Prepare the Food
If you’re making party food in batches, it should be made the day before to make sure it’s still fresh.
Check Everything is in Place
Check in with your party helpers, venue and entertainment to make sure it’s all in order and you can relax knowing there’s less chance of any last minute hiccups.
1-2 Hours Before
- Make the table and decorate your party venue.
- Tie a balloon to the porch so your guests know where to go.
- Lay out your food about 20 minutes before your party.
- Set up any activities.
- Get your party music ready.
- Set up your camera and make sure you’ve got enough storage to take plenty of pictures.