Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WEEK TWO: Brainstorming Party Themes

Last week, I encouraged you to choose an upcoming party you plan to host and follow me as I show you how to plan it in 15 minutes a week.  Read more about that here.

So, I am assuming you did your "homework" and have chosen the party you will be hosting.  You should also have your planning book (anything you can doodle in will do!).

Once you know what party you are hosting, the next step is to brainstorm a theme for your party.  Not all parties have a theme?  I disagree.  All memorable parties have a theme of some sort- though the guests may not know exactly what it is.  Great events stem from an inspiration- it may be a color palette, a character, a book, an era...the possibilities are endless!

If you still don't have any idea what type of theme you want, think of the GOH (guest of honor) for the occasion.  If it's a birthday party, think of the interests of the GOH.  If it's your birthday, it should be easy to think of what you like!  Even if you're planning your Thanksgiving party, it's fun to have a theme in mind.  It could be a certain color scheme, or a favorite thankfulness phrase.

Still stumped:  Read Party Themes 101-another post on brainstorming themes.  If you like that, here's Brainstorming Part 2.

Ok, now that you have your theme in mind, the fun begins!  I love to do mind mapping or webbing for my brainstorming.  Sometimes I just doodle all my possible ideas for a party, like this:

The idea of brainstorming your theme is to get your creative juices flowing.  Remember in grade school when your teacher taught you to brainstorm and she wanted as many ideas as possible, the crazier the better?  Ideas beget ideas- and that next idea may be the golden one!  So go crazy on paper and brainstorm as many ideas as you can.  In 15 minutes.  Then put it away for another day.

So, your homework for the next 7 days is:

  • Choose the date/time of your party
  • Brainstorm ideas for your party with a web, a list, some doodles- whatever floats your boat!
Extra Credit:  If you're type-A like me, and you want a long term vision for where this is going, go ahead and create your party planning timeline.  Once you have your party date, count back 4 weeks.  That's the date that goes next to "Send out invitations."  Then you just fill in the rest of the timeline with dates, one week for each step.  You can copy my timeline here or copy my online timeline here.

Want to start from the beginning?  Here's what we've done so far:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WEEK ONE: Sit down for 15 minutes this week and plan your next party

Raise your hand if you promised you wouldn't let your next party sneak up on you.  

Were you able to keep that promise to yourself? If so, congratulations- I bet your party rocked!  

If you were not quite successful, and you ended up stressed and running around like a headless chicken (poor chickens!), don't despair. 

Focus on now and let's plan a party that will not sneak up on you.  From start to finish, I'm going to walk you through your next party...15 minutes at a time!  Seriously. So, choose the party you are going to work on and get ready to have some fun!

Even if you don't have any parties coming up, just choose your next one.  It may be your child's party that is 6 months away.  Or maybe you want to plan your Thanksgiving holiday.  Maybe you want to plan a school holiday party.  It doesn't matter.  This is about learning the process of planning ahead.  So just choose a party you'd like to throw in the relatively near future and let's get to it!  We will be doing 15 minutes a week, every Wednesday, so it's better if your party is at least 3 months away.  I know that sounds crazy, but once you see how easy it is to plan in advance, you'll see the method to my madness!

All you need to start is a journal to take some notes in.  


Just grab something you have lying around- could be a spiral, a journal you started but only wrote a few pages in (tear the pages out and it's new!), or even a legal pad.  If you have a journal you want to make party-plan-a-licious, check out this link for inspiration.

I'll see you here next Wednesday to start planning our next party!  

To recap, your homework for the next 7 days is this:

  • Choose what party you'll be planning (you don't need a theme, just an occasion- birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.)
  • Find a notebook to keep your planning notes in
If you're feeling adventurous, tell us what party you will be working on.  I will try to incorporate your needs into blog topics to help you with your planning.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Give Yourself a Week To Gather Your Party Favor Supplies

Do you like to make your own party favors?  If so, do yourself a favor and pencil in at least a week to gather the supplies.  I give my self three weeks to do favors for a party: one week to gather and two weeks to make them.

When my timeline says "Plan favors," I create something similar to the photo above.  I've already brainstormed the favors by this point, so I know what I want to do/make.  During the planning stage, I make a list of the favors, a list of what I need to gather and/or buy, and a list of the things I need to make.  This only takes 15 minutes but it saves me so much time as the party draws near!  

I do this well before it's time for me to actually make the favors.  In fact, I "plan favors" four weeks before I actually start making them.

"Why in the world do you do that?" you ask.  It's simple.

When there is an impending deadline of completing a task like favors for a party, I find my mind starts to race and feel like it's already behind.  By planning everything out when the party is still weeks away, I allow my mind to relax and focus. I give it time to ponder exactly what I want to do, without worrying about whether or not I actually have time to do it.

In my opinion, this is the key to throwing a great party without having to say, "THIS would be such a cool thing to do, but I just don't have the time."  By planning well in advance what it is you actually want to do, you have an idea of how long it will take you and how much time you need to give yourself to create your masterpiece.

Once I have made my lists, I continue to follow my timeline and work on other aspects of the party until 4 weeks later when it's time to start gathering my favor supplies.

Since I've know for a month what it is that I want to do/make, it's quite possible that I have found most of the supplies during regular shopping trips (often on sale!) and I don't have much to gather.  But if not, I have a week to gather them.

Amazon prime is quickly becoming my shopping method of choice for things like this.  You cannot beat free 2-day shipping to your door!  If it's something I can't get on amazon, I will sometimes take the four weeks to visit Hobby Lobby or Michael's and use a 50% off coupon.  This is a luxury you have when you plan ahead, since you can usually only use the coupons on one item and will likely need several supplies for your favors.

During the next two weeks I work on making the favors.  It doesn't usually take me anywhere near two weeks- usually only 1-2 nights with my partner in crime (aka my sister) helping.  But having two weeks keeps me from feeling under the gun and makes the whole planning process more FUN for me.

And enjoying the party planning process is my goal for any party I throw.  While studying happiness for her Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin found that we tend to feel happier when we relish in the anticipation leading up to an event and that we often enjoy the anticipation more than the event itself.

I find that to be true with party planning as well.  When hosting a party, you are often pulled in several directions and fluttering around to make sure all runs smoothly.  Why not enjoy the planning and make yourself happier?

When is your next party?  What can you do for 15 minutes this week to make it a HIT and a BLAST to plan?  Check out my 12 week timeline  or the online timeline I created and start planning!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Use this great interactive FREE project website for your next party

Want a new way to organize your to do list?  Have you tried scrumy?  It's a free website (you can pay for upgraded features) that helps you organize any project.

I love that you can drag and drop tasks as you start and complete them.  I also love that you can work with other people on the same project and each team member can update the tasks in real time.

I'm sure there are much more advanced programs that do the same thing in a flashier way, but this is really easy to use- sometimes less is more!  And it's F-R-E-E, which I love.

Of course, I have been using scrumy to keep track of my party planning.  Here's a timeline I made for you to play around with.  Have fun!