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Make the Holidays More Adorable (and Less Stressful!) with a Party Planning Checklist

by Colleen Pastoor
craft & maker

Create this incredible party with a smart party planning checklist from CreativeLive!

With the Holidays creeping up, it’s the time of the year to celebrate. I love to host parties year round and while I feel like I have the hang of party planning (I graduated from event management after all!), there’s something about holiday parties that add a little bit more stress. Maybe it’s the Christmas shopping I still have on my list, or all the wrapping, or knowing every night until the new year is booked up.

This printable party planning checklist is a simple way to get all your planning party thoughts down on paper and keep your to-do list straight without added stress. Because parties should be fun – not stressful, we’ve created the printable planner to be generic so it will work for any party you throw – baby shower to Christmas dinner to drop in housewarming, year round.

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I’ve included all the basics on the printable (download below!) but thought I’d leave you with a few more tips that help me to enjoy the party planning process. Last week I hosted this Cocoa Party, using the printable party planner to prepare. This kind of party is fun to plan since there’s not much for food prep (my kind of cooking!), the party activity was crafting for the holidays (everyone brought their own-no need to prepare!), and there were no party favors or prizes. You can read all about the party and see more pretty pictures over on the Lemon Thistle blog today.

Create this incredible party with a smart party planning checklist from CreativeLive!

While we’re talking about the Cocoa Party though… aren’t the decorations darling!? I used to think every single detail needed to be handcrafted for a party to feel personal. This means hours of work. I cant recommend enough the relief of investing in some party pieces to make your life easier. Then focus on handcrafting a few special details.

I used the My Mind’s Eye Christmas tags for all the small tags, paper wraps, confetti, handmade garlands, and ’Tis the Season’ sign. It made it simple to coordinate everything (and I avoided running back out to the store to find the right color of red paper). I also ordered a couple garlands to finish the party off. I fell in love with the Holiday Wood Pennant Banner (I’m going to use this for non-holiday parties too!) and added in the Holiday Stag Circle Banner for a bit of shine.

Create this incredible party with a smart party planning checklist from CreativeLive!

Even though I host quite often, there’s some things that I find I overlook (until too late!) almost every time. The first might seem silly – actually inviting people. Invites should be sent out about 3 weeks ahead of time (less for more casual affairs, a bit more for out of town guests). I sent out invitations WAY too early one time, and I’m forever gun-shy. Now I include the right invite date in my plan.

The least fun word on this printable? Budget. But it’s so needed! If you don’t plan for spending, you’ll end up picking up one or two things on each shopping trip. You might never know the damage but you might find there’s not as much cash left for Christmas gifts as you’d hoped.

The playlist. Oh, 8tracks has saved me on this one many times. This is the perfect thing to delegate to a music loving friend. And while we’re talking about delegating… I did add in a spot for ‘Extra Help Needed’. Because every party is more fun when you’re not running around alone. I like to have someone booked to come early and help with setup (now that my hubby is usually booked to take the kids out of the house). We crank the music and its twice as fun as it would be if I were there by myself doing all the work.

You also might like extra help with food. I used to feel like if I were hosting, I had to supply all the food. I still like to do this for some parties BUT I totally say yes to the aunt who wants to bring cookies to that baby shower!

Create this incredible party with a smart party planning checklist from CreativeLive!

We host a Friendsgiving dinner in potluck style each year as well. It’s usually a weeknight so while I cook the meat and main veggies, I get friends to bring the side dish they’re most famous for. If you want to be in control of the meal (I hear you!), why not assign someone dessert or appies? I have found that someone always offers and they’re usually happy to chip in.

Create this incredible party with a smart party planning checklist from CreativeLive!

The one thing that stresses me out more than anything in hosting a party is house cleaning. I just want to party, so I’ll spend hours happily crafting bunting and adding flags to paper straws but cleaning that bathroom so it’s shining for guests? Not my strongest suit. Add those extra chores (you know, the ones you only do when you have people over) to your calendar just as you would with grocery shopping.

Some things that take no time at all can become a last minute stress if you don’t prepare them ahead of time. I’m looking at you wrinkly table cloth! I’m totally guilty for having a wrinkly table cloth at almost every party because an hour before guests arrive, it’s no longer a priority. Why not iron it the day before? If you’re hosting something like this Cocoa party, dish up the toppings in the days leading up to the party and cover with food wrap to make for quick set up. Charge up your camera and make sure you have memory (from the girl who’s taken IPhone photos of a baby shower because she brought a camera with NO memory. And last but not least? Pick yourself out an outfit and plan time to get yourself feeling party-ready.

There’s my tips on Holiday Party Planning! I hope you find this printable planner as helpful as I do. If you have any foolproof tips to keep party planning simple- we want to hear them! And if you are looking for styling tips for party tables head on over to the Lemon Thistle blog for more great ideas.

And don’t forget to download your copy of the Party Time Party Planning Checklist!

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Colleen Pastoor

Colleen is a wife, Mama to 23 month old twins, and the DIY and lifestyle blogger behind Lemon Thistle where she shares printable art and hands on tutorials for DIY home decor, parties and gifts.