Checklist: How to Plan a (Grown-Up) Birthday Party

Grace PeiskerContributor

When it comes to birthdays, everyone celebrates differently. Some are happy to ring in another year around the sun, others would rather crawl under a rock than blow out birthday candles. Some throw quiet dinners with friends, others go out on the town. Some go to bars and restaurants, and others go home to their parents. Some throw parties. Suddenly, that someone is you!

You don’t have to be a “going out” person (or even an extrovert) to throw a party (and enjoy it). Since it’s your day, the party is in your control. Host in a nightclub or a gallery, invite 10 close friends or 100 acquaintances.

It’s probably difficult to decide where to begin, especially if you have no party-planning or hosting experience. But real pay-off is that you can do exactly what you’d like. While planning a full-fledged “adult” party is a task that requires a bit more effort than buying drinks and picking up a cake from the store, it’s worth it to know that at the end of the day, you celebrated your way.

Luckily, all you right now are a few ideas, a budget and a pen to cross out these checklist items one by one. While planning a party can be scary, this party-planning checklist will have you done in no time.

The Basics: Nail down these basics, which will be the root of your party. These are the easiest decisions to make and will help you the most.

▢ Date and Time

Nail down the date of your birthday party. Are you celebrating the weekend before the actual birthday, day-of, or after? Of course your birthday is all about you, but give some thought to who you’ll be inviting and their general availability; that will help with the decision. If you already have your eye on a venue, such as a specific restaurant or bar, check with the event manager to inquire about availability.

▢ Guest List

Are you going for a small and intimate crowd, or the bigger the better? Once your guest list starts taking shape, you’ll have a better idea of what the cost of the party will look like. Who do you want to be there? Try to avoid invites out of obligation. Send invitations to people who will turn a good party into a great one. And definitely invite a few that would be happy to lend a helping hand.

▢ Budget

How much are you willing to spend, and what are your party’s must-haves? Maybe you’re a foodie and catering is where you splurge, or it’s all about the atmosphere so you book a rooftop with a killer view. Choose something within your price range that will allow you to achieve your vision without breaking the bank.

The Aesthetic: First and foremost, your party should feel like you. As you check off these items, make sure you’ll be comfortable in the mood and style your party will embody.

▢ Vibe

The ‘vibe’ is the energy of the party, and can be any adjective that describes the mood of your event. This is important because the energy will guide your decisions. Consider descriptives like boho, vibrant, upbeat, chill, or whimsical. Bonus: This can also be a word you use to describe yourself.

▢ Theme

While choosing a theme could feel extra, a strong theme will help you make creative decisions. Need some inspiration? Find a theme under categories like adventurous, around the world, decades, games activities and sports, glamorous, seasonal, stage and screen or couples and duos. Start planning your decorations now by creating a list of what you’ll need and imagining where they could go.

▢ Venue

 Booking outside of your home will make set-up, clean-up, and hosting easier. Look at venues according to your vibe and budget—choose something that’s in your price range and fits the mood of your party. If you want an energetic party, book a rooftop bar. If you’re feeling vibrant, find a fun restaurant.

▢ Color scheme

If you really want to go above and beyond, organize a color scheme. Pick a couple colors that reflect your aesthetic decisions and will tie in your creative details. Have them represent you! They can be used for flatware, balloons, napkins, and any other decor or decoration.

The Details: Nail down these final details to ensure your party will go exactly as planned.

▢Menu

Guests will expect a meal of some sort, so decide what would make the most sense: brunch, lunch, dinner or anything in between. If you’ve booked a restaurant, they’ll work with you to organize a menu. If not, you can either DIY or cater—There’s also nothing wrong with telling guests to bring a dish (as long as you can take care of the main course, you’re good). And of course, don’t forget the drinks.

▢Itinerary

Set a basic outline for your party. It doesn’t have to be too detailed, unless you have different activities or a performance  planned. Set a time for guests to arrive, for appetizers, a meal and finally cake. Leave time for people to socialize and relax.

▢List of supplies and shopping

Set up a list of supplies you might need, including food, decorations, cutlery and more. Don’t wait to start your supplies list, keep it active while you organize. The last thing you want to do is peace out during your own birthday party to grab a forgotten line item like extra ice or birthday candles.

▢Decorate

It’s finally time to get the ball rolling and set everything up! Get a friend to help if decorations are ambitious. It’s smart to have an idea of what you want to do beforehand. Make sure to bring tape, scissors, all those items you just got from the store and a bluetooth speaker—have some fun with it!

▢Celebrate

The day of your party will be stressful... And that’s totally okay. Prepare for some hiccups, but remember that this is your party that you’ve planned inside and out. What matters the most is that you have a good time. Put on your hosting hat, wish yourself a happy birthday, and enjoy your big day!

Posted on 8/28/2019