Arts & Crafts Magazine

Party Planning - Tips from an Expert

By Whatyousow

Party Planning - tips from an expert

We are now into the second week of the What You Sow party! We’ve shared recipe ideas, drink recommendations and crafty projects, all of which you can view at a glance on our Pinterest board.  

But today we’re going back to basics and showing you what you need to do to prepare for your party in the first place. 

Expert party planner Sarah Cross, whose beautiful photos I discovered via Pinterest a month or so ago, is soon to launch her party planning service and offered to share some tips with us as well as some of her gorgeous images. Read on to find out how to ensure your party runs smoothly! 

It’s always so exciting when you decide to throw a party, the date is set, the invites are out; then it dawns on you, there is actually a lot of work to do. Where on earth do you start? Parties are meant to be fun for the host as well as the guests, you don’t want to be too busy to spend time with your friends, you are the reason they are all coming!

Be prepared

The first things to decide upon are venue, theme, food, and decor. Once you know these, you are half way there. Start planning at least four weeks in advance. This gives you time to be well prepared and increases the possibility of your guests availability.

Party Planning - tips from an expert

Lists, lists and more lists!

I have to admit, I am obsessed with lists. In my profession it is a must (the fact that it slips into my personal life is something that my husband finds hilarious and frustrating at the same time). I have to do lists, check lists, guest list, back up lists, supplier lists – it is my job to make sure nothing is forgotten, even before my clients realize it is needed. To look for every problem that may arise and solve it before it has happened. Everything that springs to mind, however small – write it down, this will help you out in the long run and make you better prepared.

Keep them fed & watered

Always stick with tried and tested recipes, the ones that your friends love and know you for. It is not the time to try out that amazing new recipe that you saw in a magazine. Keep things simple, including the drinks, unless you have lots of helpers. Allow plenty of food and drinks, if possible ask your guests to rsvp, you don’t want to run out, although neither do you want a mountain of food leftover. Keep an eye out for those all-important dietary requirements too.

Party Planning - tips from an expert

Photo credit Casamento.

Finishing touches

The small details can add so much to an event – but always remember, if something doesn’t quite work out as planned, you are the only one that knows. Don’t tell the guests as they won’t miss what they don’t know about!

Fairy lights can be so effective if used in the right way. Table decorations don’t have to be lavish and expensive, just some beautiful flowers or ivy from your garden popped into glasses bottles, or vintage tea cups gives a stunning effect and it’s amazing what you can pick up at charity shops and car boots.

Search the craft blogs for simple ideas such as these paper hearts made from old books. Keep your eyes open, you never know what is going to inspire you and put your own stamp on the party.

Party Planning - tips from an expert

Say cheese!

You want to have a record of the day, but budget is tight so do you need a photographer? There are other options, so many people are using smart phones, there will be lots of photos being taken – Instagram is a great way for everyone to upload them to the same location. Some people still use disposable cameras for their guests, or if you have the budget, photo booths are fantastic fun and can be a great icebreaker!

Musical chairs

For a sit down dinner of course you must have sufficient places for all your guests. However, if your event is more informal make sure you only have limited seating; otherwise people will tend to sit down and get stuck. For a great party people will mingle and chat to lots of other guests. It is a good idea to have furniture around and about so that people can pop their glasses or plates down.

Cheeky monkeys

If you have guests with children always make sure there is something to keep them busy. They will always find something to keep themselves entertained with so it is best to have a specific activity in mind, maybe a treasure hunt around the garden, a children’s entertainer or a craft table to keep them out of mischief. Happy, occupied children = happy, relaxed parents and who’s saying the adults can’t join in too!

Ready, Set, Go

The plans are made, the food prep is done, tables are laid and decorations are in place. You’ve got two hours to go until the guests arrive, time to get ready. Leave yourself an hour prior to guests arriving to layout the food and get the drinks out of the fridge. Just time to check your lipstick and make sure the toilets are well stocked! Always over estimate timings so that you can be ready, calm and relaxed as the guests begin to arrive – even if they are a little early!


It’s all too easy to spend the entire party rushing from one place to another, there is an empty glass left on a table, the buffet needs tidying, napkins on the floor, corks need to be put in the bin.

However, your guests have all come to celebrate and have fun with you – keep a gentle eye over the proceedings, discreetly complete these tasks between chatting to friends, and try not to rush from here to there, people will feel that you are working too hard and in turn they may feel uneasy. If you are particularly worried about this then hire some waiting staff to allow you to relax.

The After Party

Your guests have all departed, you have all had a great time and as you look around you realize it is not yet time to sit down with a cup of tea! Empty bottles, plates, food, glasses – the list goes on (yet another list, told you I was obsessed). Have in place prior to the party a plan for clearing up, boxes ready and waiting for empty bottles, plates, glasses, food scraps etc. As long as all the perishable items are dealt with and you’ve had a quick tidy round, other items can wait until tomorrow. Do consider how long the food has been out of refrigeration before you wrap it up and pop it back in, if in doubt – bin it. Any party stragglers hoping for one more glass, rope them in, they’ll either muck in or decide it’s time to go home!

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