Everyone loves a good party and every hostess aspires to be the hostess with the mostest.  But before the first guests arrive there is much work to be done in order to make each event memorable. That calls for Party Planning 101!

Whether you’re planning for your dream wedding, a friend’s baby shower, your child’s first birthday, an office Christmas party, or even just a backyard barbecue, the key to a successful event is planning!

Planning in my world means making lists and lots of them.   It starts as soon as you decide you are hosting a party or event.  Lists keep you on track and on budget.  Believe me parties can easy morph in to a budget busting extravaganza, lists keep you focused and help you trim the fat so to speak.

Here are the first 4 steps I take when I plan any event or patry:

1.  BUDGET –  Have an idea of your budget and write it down!  How much can you spend on this event? This will determine most if not all of the choices you will be making.

2.  GUEST COUNT – Have an idea of how many people you are thinking of inviting.  You need to have an idea of how many people may be attending so you can decide on your venue, menu, etc. and be able to stay within your budget.

3.  DATE & TIME – Choose your date wisely.  Sure you may want a Saturday evening wedding in June,  or a Christmas party on Christmas Day, but keep your budget and guests in mind.  Everything wedding related is more expensive during the wedding season that spans from May – August; and many people may have family obligations on Christmas day.  Unless your party will be at home remember that venues are at a premium on weekends and holidays.  You may be able to negotiate a better deal for weekday or off season events.  Also breakfast/brunch and luncheon affairs are usually less expensive than dinner ones.

4.  Decide on your venue and secure it.  The first 2 questions you will be asked when inquiring about a venue is date and guest count, followed by budget,  so have them ready.

Choosing a venue, unless you’re having a party at home, can be the most difficult part of planning, specially if you have to coordinate dates between 2 venues, like a church ceremony and a reception venue.  If this is the case you may have to reserve both at least 6-12 months ahead, specially if your event will be during the peak seasons.

*  Before looking at venues write down 3 words that best describe how you imagine your event;  Memorable, Fun, Beautiful, etc.  Keep these words in mind when you shop for a venue.  Consider venues that can be tailored to fit your expectations; if you want a memorable beach wedding then looking at ski resorts in Aspen would be a waste of time.

**  You should decide in advance which is more important, your date, venue, budget,  or guest list.  You may have to be flexible on one or the other.  If that romantic mansion can only accommodate 75 people are you able and willing to trim your 200 person guest list down?  If the ballroom at that glamorous hotel isn’t available on your date are you willing to change the date?  If renting that banquet hall takes up half of your budget can you increase your budget or do you shop for a different venue?

Once you have decided on and secured these for things the real planning fun begins, the details!