Ultimate Party Planning Timeline

Calendar and note pad plans written with a pen

Once the invitations have been sent, and RSVPs are filing in, you're ready to start preparing for your party guests. Our comprehensive cheat sheet lets you check off the to-dos up to four weeks in advance of your next party to make planning less stressful and hectic!

Four Weeks Before

  • Choose a party theme.
  • Keep an eye out for decorations that align with the theme in case it becomes difficult to find in stores and another needs to be chosen.
  • Send invitations. Online is easy, but receiving a printed invite in the mail can leave a great impression.

Three Weeks Before

  • Plan the menu.
  • Enlist help that might be required during the party—bartenders, babysitters, housecleaning, DJ, etc.

Two Weeks Before

  • Plan the party soundtrack and start building playlists.
  • Begin purchasing non-perishable food items, decorations and drink supplies.
  • Determine if you will need to borrow extra refrigerator space from a neighbor, or items like slow cookers, then alert those who can help.

One Week Before

  • Clean the house from top to bottom and ensure that the fridge is cleared out.
  • Reach out to guests who didn’t RSVP to ensure head counts remain accurate.
  • Prepare party favors, if applicable.

Two Days Before

  • Complete all grocery shopping.
  • Prepare food items that can be prepped in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer—appetizers, sauces, side dishes, cheese plates, etc.
  • Quickly touch up any areas in the home that need extra cleaning attention.

One Day Before

  • Determine where coats, purses, hats and umbrellas will go when guests arrive.
  • Hang signs to direct guests to bathrooms, smoking areas, trash cans, recycling and personal belongings.
  • Purchase, arrange and set out fresh flowers.
  • Determine how the party layout will flow, and begin moving furniture and accessories around to accommodate guests.
  • Set up a safe spot for pets to hang out during the party, especially if they scare easily or you’re expecting guests with allergies.

Day of the Party

  • Set up tables, chairs and the buffet.
  • Cook and prepare any last-minute food items, then plate them and arrange according to party layout plans.
  • Make sure the bathroom is fully stocked and extra essentials are provided (toilet paper, air freshener, hand towels, tissue paper).
  • Purchase ice and chill drinks like white wines, beers, sodas, water and punches.
  • Set out party favors near the door for guests to collect as they leave.

End of the Party

  • Package party leftovers that need refrigeration, or offer them to guests to take home.
  • If it’s the night before trash collection, try to place as much by the curb as possible to lessen the load later, and be sure to separate trash from recycling.
  • Attend to any stains and spills as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage.

Day after the Party

  • Return any rented or borrowed party items.
  • Load dishes in the dishwasher or wash them by hand, in batches.
  • Sweep, vacuum and mop the floors.
  • Place furniture and accessories and back to the original layout.
  • Take down decorations.
  • Get some well-deserved rest!

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