Planning a Large Party

· Holiday / Entertaining

On January 12th, I celebrated my twins’ b’nai mitzvah.  It was magical and memorable, and 98% stress free.  Yes, almost entirely stress free.  And, whether you’re planning a wedding, a bar/bat mitzvah, or any other large party, you’ll be calm and collected too if you follow my tips for planning that perfect party!

Party Planning Tips

  1. Determine your budget.  You can’t possibly make a single decision without knowing how much you want to spend.
  2. Assemble a guest list.  Obtain all of the addresses you don’t have, and use a program like Excel to manage your list. Timing: one year in advance.
  3. Choose the venue.  Make a list of your requirements in advance (e.g., how many people it needs to hold, where it needs to be located).  Timing: a year in advance.
  4. Trust your friends’ recommendations.  If you have friends that have hosted parties recently, ask them for a list of the vendors they used.  There’s no need to recreate the wheel.
  5. Eliminate any non-responsive vendor.  If your call isn’t returned within 24 hours before you’ve signed a contract, don’t expect responsiveness once you’ve handed over your deposit.
  6. Know your limits. If a party planner doesn’t fit into your budget, don’t pick a theme that will be difficult to execute unless you have the time and enjoy the creative process.
  7. Make big decisions early.  Chose the photographer, videographer, and décor person at least 6 months in advance.
  8. Select pictures and videos. Anything you want included in a video montage needs to be given to the photographer/videographer digitally.
  9. Create digital folders on your computer. Save the best pictures from every vacation and event, separated by who is in the picture (cousins, friends, grandparents), so the process of selected pictures is organized.

10. Select invitations. Sometimes printing takes longer than you think, and you need to allot time for the envelopes to be addressed.  Timing: 6 months in advance.

11. Limit group decision making.   If you’re planning a bar/bat mitzvah, let your child make some decisions (from a range of acceptable options that you’ve already vetted) about what s/he really cares about (e.g., party favors, entertainment, their outfits), and you decide the rest.  When planning a wedding, involve as few people as possible in the decision making.

12. Make a timeline. Write down everything you want to occur during the party and when.

13. Make a list of photos.  Be very specific about the pictures you want the photographer to take.  You don’t want to risk not having a picture of someone important to you.

14. Consider hiring a party planner for the day. It’s a small price to pay to be a guest at your own party!

15. The devil is in the details. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll need to devote to details in the last month.  You’ll need to finalize the headcount, select the menu, make sure your clothing is ready, and make table assignments.

16. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Something will go wrong, and no one will notice, and no one will care.


Written by Barbara Reich · · Holiday / Entertaining
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