How to Start Planning A Big Party

My husband and I entertain quite often, but our big party every year is the 4th Of July.  We really get into the fireworks and have it catered so I can mingle and enjoy our guests.  It takes a lot to pull off having large numbers of people at your home, but there are key points to planning any party that can keep you on task and organized prior to the big day.

Secure All your Vendors

The first thing I do is secure all my vendors (DJ, caterer, party rentals etc….).  I have done this for so long now.  I just go back to my party notebook from last year and see what worked out and what I would like to change.  Actually most of the companies call me now and say, “Are you having your party and should we secure this date for you?”  It’s actually kind of nice when you do an annual party and you use amazing people.  You take care of them and they take care of you.  I’ve had the same DJ and caterer for 4 years now. Getting someone you’re comfortable with really helps take that part of the entertaining off of me.  I like to roam around and greet everyone and feel like part of the party.  If I’m constantly refilling food dishes then I really can’t  be with my guests the way I like to.  I just say the word and choose my theme and we work on a menu together to create the right feel for the party.

Here are some pictures from last years’ party!!

Sailboat from 4th of JULY 2015 party

The menu is something I spend extra time getting it just right.  I feel like the food really sets the tone for your party.  You want to have food for adults, but items the kids would enjoy as well.  I also have some “old favorites” that are requested every year like the mini funnel cakes and fried oreos that I have to have or I would have some very disappointed guests. If you are in the Hampton Roads area and are looking for an amazing caterer check out Chesapeake Bay Catering.

If you can’t have your event catered here are some tips to think about when planning your food set up.

  •  Keep your menu items simple.  You don’t want to spend your entire time in the kitchen.
  • Think about the food prep and how to keep it cold/hot.  Your food can be the most amazing dish, if it is supposed to be hot then you want it to stay hot for the guests.
  • Try to prep as much food prior to the party as you can.  This will help you save a lot of time the day of your party when you’re running around finishing last minute details.

Dessert and drink station 2015

Once I have all my vendors locked down and know for sure the party is going to be happening on a specific date then I work on invitations.  I still like to use evite. They have the free ones still as an option, but they also provide a premium version if you want something with a little more pizzazz. For this fourth, I was able to find a free one I liked.  Then you just gather your guests’ list and start emailing your evite out. The evite keeps a tally of who has replied to your party and who still needs to respond.  I like this because it gives you a place to look at a quick glance for a head count.  I like to send out my 4th of July evites a month in advance because it is a holiday.  However, I don’t expect the RSVP until a week before because people are still making their holiday weekend plans. Some people already know they will be out of town and I have found those people tend to go ahead and let you know that immediately.  This always helps me get a head count to give my caterer as an estimate.

Love using layered tiers to put my food out so everything can be at different heights.

For the 4th of July we always do fireworks at the end of the party, but I think you need to have some kind of entertainment set up whether it is structured games, a pool, water games so people have something to do.  I like to keep a loose timeline for the way I want the party flow.  These are some of the things I like to include in my party timeline.

Sailboat and food- 4th 2015

Party Timeline

6:15 Dinner is starting to come out

7:00 first structured game

7:30 DJ run songs to get crowd going

7:45 dessert and candy station go out

8:00 structured game

9:15 Fireworks

That kind of gives you a look into how I would run my outdoor party.  Of course any inflatables or water games would be going on simultaneously.  I hope this gives you a little peek into how I plan my parties.  If you have any tips or ideas on party planning I would love to hear them.  Leave me a comment below and I will get back to you.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

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