22nd August 2013

9 tips on how to avoid party planning mistakes

Planning a party can be fantastic fun; it allows you to be creative and innovative, so that your guests can let their hair down and have a great time. From small celebratory get-togethers to large wedding receptions, there is always a reason to party!

With 23 years of experience of party planning as well as partying ourselves, we have created some fool-proof party planning tips on how to create fantastic parties every time.

However, unfortunately, over the years we have been invited to some parties where simple common errors have been made leading to the event being a bit of an anti-climax and not living up to expectations, even when a huge amount of effort has gone into the planning.

So we have decided this has to stop, and it’s time to reveal a few of our secrets on what makes a party a Creative Catering Party!

Common Mistake 1

Not confirming the date early

It is all very well having a fantastic theme, the best caterers and the latest DJ but if you have no one coming! what’s the point?

  • Confirm the date early but make sure your family and friends are available on your preferred date before announcing it to the rest of your guest list.
  • Once you have got your date and you are happy that the “VIPs” are free, then make sure you send out invites and get RSVPs.
  • This will then give you a far better idea of how many to cater for in terms of food and drink, as well as giving you the option to invite more people if others aren’t free, without it being embarrassing!

Common Mistake 2

Assuming that it will never rain on the day.

  • Great Britain and its weather have a love/hate relationship with their residents. So by having a party in the middle of July does not give you the right to assume it will be glorious sunshine, as does having a party in the depths of winter mean it will be miserable and raining!
  • Always have a back up plan.
  • Make sure that if you are preparing a summer BBQ outside that your house inside is presentable and ready for guests if the weather turns. All good caterers will provide cover for a BBQ and will be able to produce the food in most weather conditions. So you need not worry about them.
  • Alternatively have a marquee if your budget can stretch to this. This will mean that you don’t need to worry about the weather and you can always open the sides up if the weather is nice.

Common Mistake 3

Trying to plan the schedule minute by minute

  • Please don’t get me wrong being prepared and planning is essential, however when trying to plan an event to such small detail, may leave you feeling stressed and ‘clockwatching’ through out the day.
  • Speeches may overrun, guests will be ‘fashionably late’, food might take longer than expected. This is a fact of life, however if you start to plan to such an extent of
  • You will not enjoy your party, so allow for variance in your times and you will relax and enjoy the party and not be forever checking the schedule

Common Mistake 4

Having too many suppliers.

  • This may seem a strange mistake, and surely having others do the hard work is a good thing? Yes it is. However, by having lots of different suppliers providing you with a range of different things, it is very hard to keep track of who is responsible for what.
  • For example by having a marquee supplier, an equipment supplier and a caterer, items may get missed. Who is supplying the kitchen equipment needed?
  • By having as few suppliers as possible, responsible for multiple things, any last minute checks or changes can be made with one or two phone calls

Common Mistake 5

Not having enough food!

  • This seems very obvious, yet too many people fail to do this! We have all been to a party which states that food will be available. You therefore don’t eat before arriving, as you don’t want to be rude and say you have already eaten. Yet you arrive to see a few crisps in a bowl, some breadsticks and a quiche on the side.
  • Talk to your caterer, a good professional caterer will have years of experience in what you should provide and how much. Imagine what you would expect?

Common Mistake 6

Setting a vague or optional theme!

  • Having themes can be great fun and create a buzz about your party before the event. You need to be clear about the theme and never leave it optional!
  • Having it optional may lead to some dressing up and others not, therefore causing embarrassment to your guests and leaving them feeling uncomfortable for the rest of the evening.
  • By setting clear guidelines for everyone to dress up or for everyone to wear “black tie” this will give confidence to others who wouldn’t normally join in. It will let people really get into the mood of the party beforehand so that the atmosphere is electric when guests arrive.

Common Mistake 7


  • It is crucial that when booking entertainment you research personally. Don’t take recommendations for DJs or bands without listening to them first, people have very different tastes in music. It’s your party so you need to enjoy the music.
  • If you are having your own music, spend some time making playlists beforehand which suit the atmosphere that you are trying to create. Don’t have one playlist which you are determined to use, sometimes you can make the wrong decisions, so always have a few back ups.
  • Sometimes parties can peak too early and guests lose enthusiasm. Have a few games or entertainment ideas up your sleeve. (Remember your guests and keep it ‘clean’)

Common Mistake 8

Know your guest list!

  • When planning a party it is all too easy to get carried away. This isn’t, necessarily always a bad thing, focus on the varying age groups and cater for all their needs.
  • Look at your guest list, (if the vast majority are over 70 the emphasis should possibly be focused on a quality sit-down meal, not drinking the night away with party games and a bucking bronco. Whilst if you are hosting a party for a 21st, bacon butties and pizza might be more appropriate to soak up the alcohol and keep people on their feet!

Common Mistake 9

Keep it realistic!

  • Know your budget! Prioritise what is the most important aspect of your party. Don’t go and blow the entire budget on a band or DJ if you want luxurious food as well.
  • Be “Party Savvy”! Hunt around for the best drinks deals.
  • If you are having a theme, try and negotiate a good deal with the local fancy dress shop.


After all the time you have spent planning, enjoy it!

So now we have shared a few of our secrets, you have no excuse to hold a sub-standard party.

If you would like us to help you host a fantastic party using our formidable blueprint, get in touch!