· Give yourself plenty of time. I would allow at least 4-6 weeks to help keep the stress level down. This should allow enough to think through your thoughts and ideas, plan, and shop.
· Keep it personal! Don't just go to the store and pick up a pack of themed plates and cups. Think about what your loved one is interested in, enjoys and would be surprised by.
· Use a checklist. Make a list of everythink you will need to buy or do and mark it off as you go.
· Make a guest list. Before you plan, make a list of who, how many and what aged guests you will have. This needs to be taken into consideration before you plan activities, choose a location and order/buy food and favors.
· Ask for help. I'm guilty of wanting to complete everything myself, and I've learned from experience that it can't be done. It's too stressful and time consuming. Be honest with yourself that you can't be superwoman and ask friends and family for help. They may not complete a task they would have done, but at least it will get done. Assign jobs before, during and after the party. You'll be happy you did!
· Be flexible! Always have a plan B and know that something is going to go wrong the day of the party.
· Plan a few more games and activities than you expect to play. Things never seem to last as long as you think they will, so have a few extra things in mind to do with the kiddos incase there's extra time.
· Decide on the menu pretty early in your party planning process and make a list of all of the food and drinks that you will need to purchase from the grocery store. Determine what type of serving dishes you are going to need and be sure you have everything. If there's something that you're missing, call a friend to see if you can borrow something, or add the item(s) to your shopping list.
· Order a cake. Baking your own cake is a big job unless you've taken my advice and nominated friends and family to complete other tasks. Don't try anything really elaborate and if it's in the budget, buy a sheet cake. You can even ask around about buying a plain sheet cake that you can decorate yourself if you really want to.
· Greeting guests at the door with a smile will help them feel comfortable right away. Decorating your party location to match your theme will spark your guests enthusiasm, and dressing in the style of your theme will get everyone talking.
· Take lots of pictures! After going through the trouble of planning this monumental affair, you darn well want to have the pictures to document it! Not only will it be great fun to look back at them years from now, you can print some off and send them with the thank you notes as an added touch.
· Don't forget the thank you notes! This is one of the most overlooked, but most important party planning tips. Thank you notes are plain common courtesy, and they also let the guests know that they were an important part of your event.Based off the ideas of: http://www.passion-for-parties.com/party-planning-tips.html