Once you know the theme and have decided upon the colors and general feel you want for the party, you can can move to the next steps- research, brain storming and making a party checklist.
Thank goodness for the web. There is amazing inspiration everywhere. Don't limit your research to parties with the same theme. Look at parties you like. Take the inspiration from them and adapt it to fit your party. For example, if you see a dessert table you love, it will most likely be very easy to you the same layout and possibly even similar dessert at your party. What do you do to organize all this research- pin it of course! I'm not sure what I did before Pinterest. Here is my Pinterest board for Charlotte's Apple of My Eye Party.
This is the messy party. In a notebook, I just write down every idea I have for the party including guest list, ideas for crafts and food, phrases and words that relate to the theme that I could possibly use for labeling and even a rough sketch of the dessert table. Here are my messy notes for Charlotte's party. Obviously, I don't even worry about penmanship or neatness.
Then, I use my brainstorming notes to make a party checklist/to do list. I always start with the guest list and then list the areas/tables at the party (dessert station, craft table, beverage table, etc.) Then, I separate out each of these areas and list all of the things I need for them- supplies, printables, etc. As I complete each item, I change the font color. It helps to me feel good when actually see that I am making progress. I always use black for initial list, then another color for in progress (pink) and a third color for totally complete (green). When the party favor is made and wrapped I change the guest name. This list is actually always changing as the party prep progresses. Usually I have to delete some of the food or desserts that I have planned simple because I have to much.
Over the top, crazy organized? I would agree :) but after I spent the entire duration of my daughter's first birthday in the kitchen chopping and prepping food, I promised myself that I would always be completely done with a party by the time it started and I have been. I never choose foods or activities that require a lot of last minute work. I was really sad that I missed celebrating with her. That is what a party is all about.
If you want me to send you a blank party check list like this, leave a comment with your name and email:) Have a great weekend.