Enjoy Your Own Party with Stress Free Party Planning

It used to be so easy to throw a party: choose through a stack of CDs and set out bowls of chips with dip and popcorn and turn down the lights. Done! But now, party guests expect a little more than that and it's getting you so stressed you don't dare throw another party. How could you even dream of competing against your friend's last Twilight party complete with signed book covers and sparkly apple party favors?

You can relax now with these tips on stress free party planning. Just go through this checklist and scare away any little buggers that may be keeping you from having a bash. Start as early as possible – preferably a month or six weeks before to give yourself enough time to breathe.

First, realize that your memory isn't perfect. You've got lots more on your mind now and it's ok to rely on a checklist to help you remember what you need and what to do. Use several checklists to keep everything straight and organized.

List down who are going to your party. If there will be only six of you, then the party is much simpler. But for more than a dozen people, you definitely need to do more in-depth planning. Writing down your guest list takes care of more than one thing, though. You will be able to prepare the exact number of invitations, tableware, utensils, and even estimate the amount of food you'll need to prepare.

Next, set a definite limit on your budget. Don't spend a lot just to impress people; figure out honestly how much you can afford to spend and stick to that figure. On this checklist, write down everything you've purchased so you can keep a tight rein on your expenses. A party is not an excuse to put yourself in debt.

After you've got your budget figured out, decide on the theme of the party. Having a theme can actually help you streamline what you need. Basing a theme on a color scheme makes it even easier. You won't need to get specialty items but can make do with plain items that can just be personalized in many different ways.

Then, after you've dreamt about your décor, figure out your menu. What you will serve depends again on your budget. If you've got a small budget, serve less kinds of food in bigger amounts. A buffet of local cheese, artisan bread, and a big bowl of chunky bean soup will get more people satisfied compared to skimpy trays of expensive appetizers.

That said, fill up your guests on bulky, inexpensive snacks like popcorn. Flavored popcorn and bulk bags of pretzels and trail mix work really well for this. There's a reason those were the snacks of choice during your high school and college parties!

Now the fun part – preparations! The more you can space out the preparations daily, the less it will tax you out. For example, buy the paper goods, candles, canned goods, and drinks a month in advance. Get whatever frozen food you need the week after and the fresh food for salads and veggie sticks a day before. Special decorations can be created on the weekends and the napkin bundles put together while you're watching tv at night.

Refer to your checklists often; these are your sanity savers. They won't avert all the problems, but they'll certainly take care of major ones, like reminding you to rent goldfish bowls for the table centerpiece at your “Under the Sea” baby shower!