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Although parties are fun and enjoyable, planning them can be tedious and stressful. There are many factors that you must consider in your planning process in order to pull off a successful, memorable event. In most cases, the more important the event is the more planning and attention to detail it requires. For example, a 50th anniversary party usually demands more complex planning than a small backyard cookout. Regardless of whether you’re planning the party of the century of just an intimate get-together, the basic steps of party planning are the same.

The first thing to consider when planning your event is the reason for the party. The reason will be your starting point. After you know the reason for the party, turn your attention to your budget. Setting a budget is a crucial step in party planning. The amount of money you have to spend will determine many factors like, the number of guests you invite, the food and drink you serve, potential location of the event, etc. Do not be turned off by a small budget, because with enough creativity, you can plan an amazing party even with a modest budget. Just make sure you have a set dollar amount that you plan to spend before you go any further in the process. Side note, if budget is an issue, try partnering with someone to help cushion the pot. For instance, have your birthday party with someone who has a birthday around yours, or get your friends to chip in for an event you’re planning for a mutual friend.

Once you have a budget, write out your guest list. Then choose a time, date and location. Be sure to send out invitations two weeks before the event (four weeks in advance for major holidays). Book any party equipment you may need to rent, and arrange for early delivery on the day of the party.

Next, decide your menu (appetizers, main and side dishes, desserts, beverages). You can ask your guests in advance about any food preferences or allergies. If you are going to cook, be sure to cook ahead of time to avoid a last minute kitchen jam and minimize cooking time on the day of the party. If it is a potluck, assign who will bring what dish. If you are having a small gathering, in addition to beer and wine, try making one or two signature cocktails in a pitcher and allow guests to self-serve. If you’re hosting a large group, you may want to consider hiring a bartender. For a large group, you may also consider hiring kitchen and serving help.

Lastly, determine the finer details. Decorations are great, but there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple. Choose entertainment that your guests will enjoy like music to set the mood. Games can be fun, but adjust them according to your guests’ response. Don’t be that host that pushes a game on guests even though no one wants to play it. Have entertainment for the children as well. You could even hire a babysitter so the adults can relax and enjoy the party.

Don’t forget, have FUN at the party.

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