Practical Tips for Planning a Party at Home

Practical Tips for Planning a Party at Home

flowers and glasses of champagne on bench
desktop with list of things to do

When you are planning a party at home, being well organized can set you apart from those who have a difficult time of it. One key element is a super structured, well-planned party shopping list (you can download your's here). Organization is your best friend when it comes to successfully planning and having a party or event of any size within your home.

Simple First Steps for Planning a Party at Home

Before getting too carried away with the organising, after selecting your venue, the next vital step is to work out how many people you will be inviting. This helps to get an understanding of the number of supplies that you will require.

In deciding to have your party at home (or perhaps at a friend/family member's home) this will help determine your decorations and your menu. Whilst many hosts will provide the food and beverages themselves you can also choose to have it catered. If this is the case you will need to secure your caterers now.

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Create a Party Timeline

I'll be going into greater detail on this shortly in a future post. I feel there is so much information to consider for a party timeline. It really is mind-blowing (and not in a good way when the overwhelm sets in!). The basic things to consider for your timeline are the following;

  • Budget
  • Party theme
  • Location
  • Invitation list
  • Menu and beverage items
  • Duration including a timeline for you and your guests on the day
  • Cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Decorating

Don't forget to enlist help from family and friends! This list will get your ideas flowing. I've written an article called The Ultimate Party Planning Checklist that will help you out with many of these things.

desktop planning a party notes

Items your party will need

For the purpose of this article, planning a party at home, I'm going to assume that you won't be getting caterers in.


  • There is a section in the Party Action Plan for you to note many of the following points. I will be going into more detail on that throughout the article (so keep reading!).
  • The time of day will determine what you will be serving. Consider special dietary requirements.
  • Delegate food and beverages to other people. Perhaps family will bring a plate to help ease your load?
  • Determine any food you will need to cook and prepare. To help with time consider options that can be made ahead of time and stored or frozen.
  • How will you serve your food? Will you need additional plates, cups, silverware, serving bowls etc?
  • Plan out how many tables, chairs and buffet tables you will need (if any).


List down what party decorations and decor you will need. You now have an idea of your event layout with tables, chairs, buffet tables and the like. Consider what decorations you will need such as centrepieces for tables, flowers, balloons and balloon installations, lanterns, candles etc. If you require helium balloons from a store, be sure to book ahead of time so that you don't miss out.

Additional items to note include things like photo backdrops, entertainment and games and party favours. The Ultimate Party Planning Checklist article that I wrote can also help you delve deeper into these things.

colourful balloons, candles and cupcakes for party
Organising a table setting

Make a Kick Ass Shopping List

An incredibly important key to successful party organization skills lies in your shopping list. When you have an awesome shopping list, not only are you are sure to have all of the supplies you need but it will save on your time.

Without a plan of attack, many people will become overwhelmed when they enter a store. You go in there confident as anything only to find yourself amongst so much amazing stuff that you start to question your original thoughts and decisions. This often leads to purchasing things you hadn't planned on.

This means you may forget vital items but in the very least you will spend too much money and go over your budget (yup, I've done that more than a few times!). The simple way to avoid having this happen is to make a good shopping list and then stick to it when you shop. Download your free action plan and shopping list then follow along with the steps below.


Remember the considerations for your menu above? Well, that's going to come in very handy in this step. Look at all of the menu items that you need to make yourself. Take the time to go through each recipe, writing down all of the ingredients and the quantities you will need. Each of these ingredients, with their amounts listed, will go under the “Menu Planner – Ingredients” page of the Party Action Plan download. If you need to buy this ingredient simply tick the box in the “Buy” column.

graphic of party planning action plan and lists


You should already have an idea of what types of beverages you would like to serve at your party. On the “Beverages Shopping List” page of the Party Action Plan, you will find subheadings including alcoholic, non-alcoholic, soft drinks and hot beverages. List everything you require including quantities, the store you need to purchase from and when you intend on buying the item.

If you are having a make-your-own cocktail bar or similar, you can print off another page from the ingredients menu plan. Note down on here what you need for each of the cocktail recipes you intend on suggesting to your guests.


After considering your party decor and serve ware options you can now note them on the “Decorations Shopping List” page of the Party Action Plan. Record the quantities, the name of the item, the store/location you need to pick them up from and also when you need to get these supplies.

You will find an additional section for any DIYs you need to make prior to the party. These will usually require more consideration and time. If you are borrowing decor, serve ware or table ware you can do one of two things;

  1. Note it down on this list, using the store/location column to the person's name. You can also include the day you will need to arrange collection or delivery. Or;
  2. I have a section on the “Supplies Venues + Borrowing” page to record anything that you will be borrowing.
Decorations shopping list print out with party bunting decor

Expand on your shopping lists

We have gone through and included stores and times that you will need to purchase your items from. When it comes to groceries, you will likely want to shop twice. The first time you should shop for everything which will last until the date of your event; the second time you will want to shop for perishable items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and bread.

Using the “Food Shopping List” page of your Party Action Plan you can now expand on your Ingredients Menu Plan. Given you will most likely want to go grocery shopping at least twice you may want to consider printing out 2 copies of the Food Shopping List page so that you have one for each trip.

The Food Shopping List is where you will enter your groceries, their quantities and when you require them to be purchased. First, enter the items from your Ingredients Menu Plan. Then go through adding any additional items or snacks. If any items from your beverages or decorations lists need to be purchased from the grocery store, you may like to include them on this list too.

You will find the following subheadings to allocate them under;

  • Produce
  • Pantry
  • Fridge and Frozen
  • Bakery
  • Meat and Deli
  • Cleaning

Don't forget that hosting a party at home means cleaning. I know, I know, you don't want to hear that. It's by far the least fun part of all this! Be sure to include any cleaning supplies on your list so you aren't making a mad dash to the store at the last minute.

pen and floral notebook planner

Organising all of the information

With all of this information, by now you will have many different stores that you will need to go to. These could include two grocery shopping trips, a trip to multiple party stores, the liquor store, the florist, and a party hire store to name a few.

I have created an additional list that you might find helpful to glance at for an overall idea of your shopping timeline. The great thing about this is list is that you can also record information on anything that you are borrowing too.

On the “Supplies Venues + Borrowing” page you can transfer all of the stores and locations that you've listed in the previous lists. Place them under the Venus/Stores column. You can then write the basic information of the supplies you need and the date/time you will be collecting them.

Items such as serve ware and tableware are great to borrow rather than buy brand new. To keep track of whom you are borrowing these from there is a Family + Friends Assistance heading. Record the name of the person, what you're borrowing and when you plan to collect (or for them to deliver).

party supplies list on timber platter
All shopping lists printed out with pen and party bunting

Scheduling shopping at each of these venues will ensure that you do not forget to go to one store or another and that you will have the time needed to obtain all of the things you will need to have a successful party or event.

Planning a party at home can take a lot of work. Keeping a record of what you need, where it will be from and a timeline of when you need to collect is vital in your party planning. It will take a little extra time initially to plan this information out however it is far more likely that things will go off without a hitch when you are as prepared as you can be. Things tend to just flow a lot smoother with less stress too.

Do you have any tips you use for organising a party? Comment below, I'd love to hear them!

Other article/s you may like:

Ultimate Party Planning Checklist: Basics for a Killer Party
Amazing Birthday Decor: Fun Backdrop Ideas for a Party
Alvie's Wild One Birthday Party

Party inspiration & DIY tutorials, free printables for your home, kids & parties
Party planning checklist free download
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Hello! I’m Lauren, a graphic designer, blogger and mother here at A Visual Merriment. I have a passion for interiors, design, crafts and making parties come to life!

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