When planning a party, get the basics down first:

  • Who is the party for? (business, family, friends)
  • What’s the reason for the party? (theme, birthday, special occasion)
  • When is the party?
  • Where is the party going to be?
  • How many people are you inviting?
  • What type of party is it? (brunch, lunch, dinner, hors d’oeuvres, dessert, buffet, sit‑down meal)


Use this party planning checklist to guide you through the details:

  • Make list of people to invite.
  • Mark the date on your calendar.
  • Send invitations (by mail, e‑mail, or phone).
  • Plan the menu, including the beverages.
  • Make shopping list (food, paper goods, decorations).
  • Plan cooking schedule: Determine what can be made ahead and frozen, day before, and that day, and what you are buying already prepared.
  • Make list of equipment needed (rental chairs and table).
  • Plan the layout of the rooms. (Make sure all the food tables are not right on top of each other to ensure smooth flow for people to mingle.)
  • Plan music.
  • Plan lighting.
  • Buy or make a centerpiece or other decorations.
  • Check your stock of cleaning supplies for before and after the party.
  • Make sure you have all the platters and serving pieces you’ll need.


Here are some things to think about for your guests:

  • Coat rack (hangers or a separate room to put coats)
  • A place to put boots or umbrellas
  • Ice, ice bucket, ice tongs, or scoop
  • Cocktail napkins (2 per person)
  • Candles
  • Paper towels
  • Extra toilet paper
  • Plates (appetizer, salad, dinner, dessert) ‑ you can order deli trays for your party!
  • Glasses (water, wine, mixed drink, beer, soda, coffee); some beverages can use the same type of glass
  • Silverware (Think through each course; a fresh spoon or stirrer is necessary for coffee.)
  • If grilling, check the tank, charcoal, lighter fuel, bug spray, and citronella candles
  • Coffee and assortment of tea bags
  • Cream and sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wine, beer, and soda chilled
  • Wine and bottle opener
  • Bar garnishes (lime, lemon, olive)
  • Charged camera battery
  • Garbage bags
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Club soda (for anything that may spill, a great spot remover)
  • Space to chill beverages. It takes beer, wine, and soda 20 minutes to chill on ice. A large tub or cooler can be used in a back room.


After any party, it’s a good idea to record in a journal how much was left over and what people liked and didn’t like. This information will be a big help when you plan your next gathering. Think of your party journal as a reference to look back on when you are trying to remember your boss’s favorite drink. That way you can have it at the next event.