Is there still time? Halloween is only a week away!
The answer is yes, but we only have a week to work with, so let’s get started with this step by step guide to hosting your own Halloween party with only a week of planning.
Most of us love parties, and having people over to share our home and food and hospitality, but being a hostess is always challenging, and a lot of work, so this guide aims to set out a simple step by step list to keep you on track and minimize your stress. It will also tell you that perfection is not necessary and give you permission to enjoy your own party.
Step 1 – Pre-plan
Think about what you want to do. If you don’t have an idea for a party then don’t force yourself to come up with one and don’t allow anyone to pressure you into hosting unless you want to. If you do want to plan something special for Halloween, find your inspiration and have a general mental image of what you might want to do.
Pick a day. Which day in the lead up to Halloween works best for you?
Pick a type. What type of party do you want to have? Dress up? Movie marathon?
Pick a theme. Will you have a theme? Zombies? Ghosts? Rocky Horror Musical?
Once you have an idea, you need to do the painful next step:
Step 2 – Invite
Get your guest list. This is one of the most difficult aspects of party planning, the challenge of getting people to commit to an event and coordinating everyone’s schedule. To start, send out a text, message or give a call to those whom you’d like to come. For some, your party proposal might be a godsend, solving the question of what to do for Halloween. Others will have committed weeks ago to another event.
Make initial contact. Approach people with what you laid out in Step 1.
Gain their confirmation. If people are interested then proceed!
Follow up. After getting feedback, set your date, and let everyone know.
I usually text or send out a Facebook message to friends and family to see if they are available and might be interested in a party. Once I get their feedback I adjust my initial ideas about the event to what best fits the group then I follow up with everyone in either a Facebook event request or call.
Now you’re ready to plan your actual party:
Step 3 – Plan
Write out a plan. Grab a piece of paper, or a blank Word document and sketch out your plan, this should cover what you need to do and when you need to do it, so first do some research, then make yourself a list and stick to it.
Supplies. Look through your storage and cupboards to see what you already have.
Location. Will the party location require moving furniture or making reservations?
Timeline. Sketch out the week leading up to your party and what you need to do.
Food. Figure out what you want to serve/order so you can add that to your timeline.
Décor. Decide how you will decorate and what you’ll need.
Activities. Determine your activities and have everything you need on hand.
Now to put the plan into action, the next steps are set up to get as much done in advance as possible to make the day of the party as easy and smooth as possible and allow you to actually enjoy your own party:
Step 4 – Shopping
Once you have everything planned out, do your shopping day. Pick up the extra decorations you might need, get costumes and non-perishable food items as well as drinks. Get this out of the way early, so it’s one less thing you have to worry about on the day of the party.
Step 5 -Clean and set up
Do your deep clean as soon as possible, and prepare the area as much as you can. You can probably do outdoor decorations in advance and having decorations up will make you feel more festive and get you in the mood.
The day of the party you will be extremely busy, enlist help! Don’t hesitate to ask for the help you need and think of ways people can help or things they can pick up if they offer to bring something. Then get ready for some hard work! Think of the ant and the grasshopper, doing the hard work in advance will let you have fun later on.
- Review your guest list and maybe make contact with people to confirm they’re still coming if they RSVP’d a week ago.
- Clean your house. Just get it done early, that way you have a blank canvas to work with and a pleasant working environment to get things done in. Especially the kitchen if you’re planning to serve food for the party. There’s nothing worse than trying to make party trays in a messy kitchen with a sink full of dishes.
- Do final shopping. Pick up any of the perishable food items that you need and anything you may have forgotten earlier. Then commit to being at home and getting ready for the party, no more trips to the store. Make up your mind that if you’ve forgotten it at this point you ask someone else to pick it up or go on without it.
- Decorate! Finalize your decorations, place out candles, and set the table. At this point you should be ready to take pictures or have guests walk through the door at any time.
- Set up. If you’re planning carnival games, or a murder mystery get everything printed or set up, if the activities can be messy such as bobbing for apples make sure you set out towels or cleaning supplies.
- Cook and get your drinks ready. Start making ice, do your baking, cook as much as you can in advance, and prepare appetizers or party trays. While some time in the kitchen will be necessary, you don’t want to spend your whole party hidden away from your guests so get everything as ready as it can be or made in advance. This also gives you the time to get the kitchen cleaned again and make more space for clean up throughout the party.
- Get yourself ready. You’ve now done as much as you can, the house is ready, the food is ready and only requires finishing touches, games and activities are ready. Take some time for yourself and let everything else go. I aim to have at least 2 hours before a party to myself so I can take my time getting showered, dressed and having a relaxing sit down. You’ve just done a lot of work so you need it! Then for the 30 minutes before the party is set to start keep your phone on you, guests may be calling to confirm your address, to ask if they can bring anything or to let you know they might be late.
There you have it, an in depth guide to planning, not just a Halloween party, but really any party or dinner. This guide should help you to make the most of your time and to take some of the stress out of hosting.