party planning tips

So, I feel like I’ve got enough parties under my belt that I can offer a few tips to the blogosphere. Just my “two cents” if you will. (I’m no pro!) Besides my party mantra “the more sugar the better”,ย  I just adore the planning, DIY-ing, and little details that make a party really wow my guests! (and of course, the guest of honor!) So here we go…my tips for party planning!

1. Start your planning in advance.

I’m not saying everyone has to start planning 6 months in advance (haha obsessive much Jess?), which is what I like to do, but it certainly helps to at least have the theme picked out ahead of time. That way if you run across sales or items at thrift stores that could work with your theme and/or color scheme, you can pick them up then, and not have a last minute frantic search for favors and decor. Also it helps spread out the cost over time, therefore not angering your significant other too much. ๐Ÿ˜‰
(I have repeatedly been told to tone things down after each party by Rory… least maybe I have…I always seem to forget about that before the next party….weird….)

2. Research!

Once I have my theme picked out, I search, search, search my little heart out! Google, Pinterest, and party blogs are great resources that I love to use. I also love using Pinterest to create a board for each party-this helps me visually stay organized and on task with things I need to buy/make/do.

3. Get Organized!

Ok, don’t judge me too much for being an organized nerd…I make spreadsheets for my parties. Yes, it’s true. I can’t tell you how much it helps, though! I have sections for food, desserts, decor, favors, games, and to do/buy lists. With little check boxes next to each thing, cause who doesn’t love checking things off their list? When it comes time, I also plan out what needs to be done each day prep-wise, for the last week leading up to the party. (ie, baked goods that can be baked ahead of time and then frozen, etc)

4. Sketch it out.

I draw some pretty dorky sketches of what I want things to look like at the party and how things should be set up, but it helps me visualize the party and see where I might need a little extra something. For example, I sketched out the dinner and dessert table for Charlotte’s cowgirl party, and when it came time to put things out, I simply followed my own instructions. No last minute styling attempts! Which don’t usually end well for me haha!

5. DIY!

Making your own decorations and party supplies is fun, often inexpensive, and can add that special touch to your party. Obviously I love DIY, so I try and make things myself. Going back to #1, planning ahead and making decor ahead of time can save you a lot of last minute scrambling and headaches. (and from buying generic party decor, which I have nothing against but just don’t like to use) Tissue puffs, paper banners, and using fabric to make decor that matches your color scheme are great ways to customize your party and not spend much. I’ve even tried my hand at making my own printables using tutorials found online, and if I can do it, you can! DIY also goes for cooking/baking. I know not everyone likes to cook or bake, but neither did I for a long time, in fact I was pretty bad at it. Practicing your recipes ahead of time lets you feel more comfortable with them and work out the kinks before party time! Not to mention the yummies you get to enjoy pre-party. ๐Ÿ˜‰

6. Scourย  Amazon.

It’s where I buy a lot of my party supplies! Paper straws, cupcake liners, packaging for favors, favor items…so many options there, and to match almost any theme/color scheme! Plus the free shipping if you have Prime can’t be beat. Also try Ebay-I got a horse balloon there for cheaper than I found it on other sites, with free shipping, too.

7. Have fun!

If planning parties isn’t your thing, then by all means keep it simple. Make sure you are enjoying the process, and not just doing it to impress folks. I truly love doing parties, and so (almost) every moment is pure fun and excitement for me. (kinda pathetic, I realize, but hey at least I can admit it, lol)

So what are your best party planning tips? Leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear!

P.S. I’ve got a new parties page with all the parties I’ve done organized ever so nicely-check it out by clicking on the link at the top of the blog page!


  1. Great tips Jess! I need to be more organized…in general. ๐Ÿ™‚ The spreadsheet idea is great.

  2. You are awesome! I just love your blog. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  3. I just finished a 2 yr old’s Spongebob themed birthday party. I DIY’d everything! That’s how I found your blog to begin with, scouring the net for ideas! From a hand drawn and hand cut Spongebob beanbag toss, to the home made banner and matching tutu and shirt for my granddaughter.

  4. Great post today and so appreciative of the fact that I am not the ONLY organized nerd! LOL! Thank you! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  5. Oh, but 6 months is just right- especially for DIY parties. I started planning Lily’s 1st while on maternity leave (pink pumpkins for my November girl- an idea I got while visiting a plantation in SC). This is just in time. I’m planning her 4th and have hit a wall. I’m hoping inspiration will strike sometime between now and the end of October :/

  6. I love this post! If I ever get a chance to plan or help plan a party, you can bet I’ll be using these tips! I’ve never actually planned a ‘real’ party before… my family’s idea of a party was a cake, some balloons, and some friends.

  7. Too funny. I read your blog regularly, but I was just talking to a friend about throwing one of our other friends a baby shower (kind of last minute). My first thought was to check your blog for ideas of things you’d done, so I come to your home page and … a post about party planning. LOL. Perfect timing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I read your blog regularly (yours and No Big Dill are my daily ‘go to’ blogs!) and I always hang out for your party posts. I love seeing how you manage to tie your parties so skillfully into a theme. I have often wondered how long it takes you… 6 months! But the care and love that you pour into it all is soooo evident. You have two very lucky girls and a wise husband (but don’t listen to him about reining it in!!).

  9. My boys have their party on Saturday and I can tick all of your boxes, I even have a spreadsheet open now, he he. If only the kids did not have so much of a say in themes I would be in heaven, I feel a little stretched basing an entire party around Trash.

  10. Jess love your spreadsheet idea. That doesn’t sound dorky at all. I am an organizing nut a little myself. I make lists and check things off too. : )
    I also like your sketching the table ahead of time. That is so clever.

  11. Yeah, I have a binder that has pre-made spread sheets and to do lists with boxes to check off…I’m a dork along side ya. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Great tips!! Your parties always look amazing!

  12. I am so pleased to find that I am not the only person who likes to plan parties well in advance. My excuse is always that my little girl’s birthday is at Christmas, so if I wait until the last minute I can only get Christmas stuff. And I love to make decorations and really tie things in with the party theme, but I often think I only do it for myself since no one else seems to notice all those little details! We’re doing ‘rainbows’ this year and I am already excited about it! Thanks for all your inspiration.

  13. Thanks for the great tips, Jess! My daughter is turning 1 soon and I can’t wait to start planning her birthday party ๐Ÿ™‚

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