Plan Your Next Party in 4 Easy Steps

Whether it be a dinner soiree, backyard barbeque, or cocktails and passables, executing a party you’ve only thrown in your mind requires some focus and organization. Of your to-do’s you’ve got location, décor, entertainment, and don’t forget the most important element, the food. Scratch that, even more imperative is the bar. Planning an event that will satisfy all the senses comes down to ample preparation, and a great imagination. Follow the path below to get started.

Step 1: High Level Inspo’

Ideally four or more months in advance, you’ll want to get cracking on the big picture vision. If budget is of concern, nail down the absolute ceiling you can’t exceed, and how you’d like to appropriate the costs. Understanding your party priorities will help with budgeting. To make this easier, you’ll want to:

  • Get your optimal guest list together.
  • Take your audience into consideration, accounting for the number of children expected, if any, how casual or formal the celebration and its attendees will be, and any accessibility provisions you may have for disabled or elderly partygoers. 
  • Determine how everyone will dine; sit down dinner, buffet, snacks and/or finger foods, and how much outside help you’ll need with it. 
  • Decide on a location and officially book it. 
  • Think through how drinks will be served, and whether you’d rather outsource the job.
  • Do you have a theme that can be connected to décor and food selections? 
  • Start thinking about a menu. Working with our team early will help you brainstorm and stay on track. 

Some events may be last minute shindigs, for instance engagement parties, memorial services, or going-away send-offs. These steps are all doable in a flash, but you’ll want to act quickly to buzz right through to Step Two. 

All Occasions Catering | Milwaukee, WI | Party Planning Checklist

Step 2: Logistics

Things get a little more specific during this phase, comfortably between two and three months prior. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and handle the less glamorous but equally vital details.

  • Communicate with your catering team the onsite cooking, refrigeration, and prep accommodations, if any. 
  • For self-serve food displays, identify where these will go, envisioning the layout of the dishes and the room in general. Plan out a sensible flow so that everything is accessible, and features a varying range of colors, flavors, and temperatures to tempt the palate. 
  • How many dining tables, chairs and linens will you need? Will you be needing any high-top cocktail tables? Additional tables for buffet, dessert or snack spreads? Any entertainment services in need of booking or renting?
  • Send out invitations to your guests 3-4 weeks ahead, or 4-8 weeks for events being held in busier summer and holiday seasons. Remember to inquire about any food restrictions. 

    All Occasions Catering | Milwaukee, WI | Party Planning Checklist

Step 3: The Fine Details

We are honing in on the nitty gritty here, with only one to two months to go before the glassware is clinking. This is arguably the most stressful phase, but also the most satisfying since things are really coming together now.

  • Secure the dinnerware and service pieces you plan on using, working with your catering team if needed.
  • For tableware, if using your own, ensure all is clean and in good condition. 
  • Borrow, rent, or purchase your décor, and put a game plan together as to who will be setting up and taking down, and when.
  • Follow up on all guests who have not yet RSVP’d, aiming for a firm head count. 
  • Work with your catering team to finalize the menu and schedule.
  • Complete your seating chart and prepare place cards, if using them. 
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to panic over what you’ll be wearing. Plan ahead now to spare yourself the stress the day or week of.

All Occasions Catering | Milwaukee, WI | Party Planning Checklist

Step 4: Let’s Boogie 

What’s left but to party hearty? Pump the brakes, we still have a few tasks left. Within the final week, complete the following for an event you can enjoy without a care in the world.

  • Confirm your chosen location is clean, bathrooms are stocked, and don’t forget the exteriors.
  • What’s the parking situation? Be sure you have a plan for ample vehicles if your event will be held at a residence or destination off the beaten path. Remember to account for any delivery trucks requiring access. 
  • Set up decorations, furnishings, and any signage to guide your guests.
  • Stock up on ice! Avoid the fuss of a mid-party shortage and acquire 1-2lbs of ice per person. You’ll thank yourself later.

Party planning can be as hands-on as you want it to be. If you prefer to hang every last wreath, fold each and every napkin, and light all your own Sterno cans, you are certainly welcome to it. This list will help keep things in order, but a good partner will off-load some of the worry and a ton of the labor. Reach out today to get started on your next epic celebration.