How to Plan an Awesome Party- in 10 Easy Steps!

This is part one of my party planning series. Be sure out part 2 and part 3

I LOVE throwing parties. Among my friends, I'm known as the party planner. Anytime someone mentions having a party, I always get super excited, ask a million questions, and offer to help if they need it. Throwing a great party doesn't have to be stressful. It can be super fun if you plan ahead and follow these 10 easy steps!

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1. Decide on a theme. I absolutely love theme parties. It's much easier to have a cohesive look when you've got something tying it all together. Plus, guests love them! Do some brainstorming and pick a theme that matches the event, person, or holiday you're celebrating. If you prefer to keep it simple, pick a color scheme and follow that when purchasing your supplies.

2. Create a Pinterest BoardI like to create a separate board for each of my parties. This allows me to pin everything in one place and makes it easy to reference. I pin recipes, decor, drinks and inspiration. I also include any how-to's for items I plan to make and items I want to buy. This makes it really easy when I'm ready to sit down and order everything!    

3. Pick a Date. Grab a calendar and pick a date, preferably one at least 2-3 weeks in advance. This will give you enough time to plan while giving your guests ample notice to coordinate their schedules to attend. Once you've settled on a date, plan out the steps for your party and create deadlines for each step, especially any DIY projects.

4. Create a budget. Before going wild buying stuff, think about how much you want to spend. If you notice your shopping cart total is higher than your budget, re-evaluate. Is there anything you can omit? Does a friend have something you can borrow? Can you make it a potluck or BYOB party?

5. Plan your menu. Create a list of all the items you want to make, how long it will take, and if you can prepare anything in advance. This is a good time to create a shopping list and check your cabinets to make sure you have everything you'll need. I also like to get some frozen hors d'ouvers from BJ's or Costco and pre-made dips and salsas. This way if I get held back a bit, people still have something to munch on.

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6. Plan out the DIY projects. Don't leave DIY projects for the last minute. Please oh please take my advice on this one. Many times I have left these projects for the night before (or day of!) because I wanted my sister to come over earlier and help me. This is a terrible idea. As with many DIY projects, things take a lot longer than you anticipate. Sometimes the project is tedious as well, and you only end up making half as many as planned (or two...). Do these projects in advance and save the night before for cooking, cleaning and decorating.

7. Think of fun activities. It's a good idea to have a couple of activities planned. They can be simple, like playing a game or a having a contest, or more complex, like a bounce house or petting zoo. Either way, it's a good idea to have something for people to do and encourage conversation.

8. Call dibs. If you plan to borrow something from friends, like a table or a speaker, be sure to ask them ahead of time so they can make it available to you. I also recommend picking up the item a few days in advance rather than having them bring it to the party. If they forget it or come late, you'll be left scrambling! Be sure to return it back to them quickly and in the same condition you received it so they won't be reluctant to let you borrow anything again.

9. Make a playlist. In the weeks leading up to the event, create a playlist of songs. If you plan to use Pandora or a similar program, sign on and give the stations a listen. Use the thumbs up and thumbs down feature to fine-tune the selection and create an awesome party mix!

10. Create a checklist. Once you've done all of the above, write or type a quick checklist outlining everything. Include your shopping list, the DIY projects, and a rough outline of the schedule for the day of the event (including setup).  This will help to ensure you stay on schedule and organized!

Wondering where to buy your party supplies or how to stay sane the day of your party? Check out the next two installments to find out!

Be sure to follow my Party Inspiration Pinterest Board for TONS of fun party ideas!

What other tips do you have for planning a party? Let me know in the comments below!

Related: My 8 Favorite Places to Buy Party Supplies