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Planning Ahead for the Perfect Party

This chart will help you plan each party element to the last penny. As we plan our sample party, I will refer to this chart each time we discuss an element or a cost.

Here's the chart:

ElementCost
Total Budget 
Invitations 
Venue 
Food 
Drink 
Tools 
Décor 
Entertainment/Activities 
Music 
Favors 
Emergency Fund 
Total Costs 

Before we get started with filling in the chart, here's a brief overview of the different element categories:

  • Total Budget—Before you begin, you need to decide exactly how much money you have available to spend on this party. Don't bankrupt yourself. Pick a number, and stick with it.
  • Invitations—If you're springing for actual paper invitations, remember to budget enough money for postage.
  • Venue—If you're renting a venue, include the rental cost, plus any additional fees you might incur, such as a tip for the caterer or bartender. If you are giving the party at home, remember to include any furniture or equipment you'll need to rent, as well as any money you plan to spend on cleaning or gardening before the event.
  • Food—After you decide which recipes to use, make a complete list of ingredients for your shopping list.
  • Drink—In addition to spirits, soda, water, and ice, remember to think about mixers and garnishes.
  • Tools—Although you might have everything you need already in your home, you might have to rent or purchase a grill, additional seating, or tools for serving the food, such as plates, napkins, cutlery, or cups. If you're planning an outdoor party, also think about lighting.
  • Décor—Unless you are having a theme party, your décor cost will be minimal. However, don't forget to include candles, firewood, or anything else you'll need for creating ambience.
  • Entertainment or Activities—Include fees for any professional entertainers you'll hire or the cost of any games or activities you plan.
  • Music—Although you probably already have enough CDs for the event, you might choose to rent a sound system, hire a DJ, or beef up your music collection.
  • Favors—Think "cheap," and you'll only have to budget about $1 per person for favors.
  • Emergency Fund—Before you create your budget sheet, set aside 10% of your total budget to cover emergencies.
  • Total Costs—This amount should not exceed the number you entered in the Total Budget line.

Now that we have our terms straight, let's give a go at filling in some of those blanks.

ElementCost
Total Budget$350
Invitations$
Venue$
Food$
Drink$
Tools$
Décor$
Entertainment/Activities$
Music$
Favors$
Emergency Fund$35
Total Costs$

I can safely spend $350 on this party, $35 of which I'll set aside for emergencies. Before we can fill in any more blanks, we'll need to consider a few variables.

More on: Pop Culture

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Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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