Ten Stress-Free Party Planning Tips

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First of all, for today’s lesson, let’s talk about summer fun, parties, and – most of all – ice cream. Totally all related.

It’s party central over here, probably always. It’s party central overload right now, because both of my kids have June/July birthdays, and so do I, and we plan one giant party once a year. We always say this is the year it will be different and we’ll go easy, or rent out a movie theater or bounce place. We always say this is the year we will only invite a few friends. We always say this is the year we don’t save all of the planning until the last minute. That last one we may actually achieve.

I firmly believe that stress levels have gone down over the years. We have learned that we always do pull it off in the nick of time. Whether it’s adrenaline or working well under pressure, or more likely, recognizing that perfectionism is only in our heads, we have learned some stress-free tips along the way. We have also learned that good food, good company, and a bounce house and/or bubbles, are sometimes all it takes to please everyone. We can’t help overthinking our party strategy.

Finding a good ice cream is key for me, because I think ice cream is EVERYTHING. We’re fans of EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® Caramel Delight Light Ice Cream, and, as Des calls it – “banilla.” (vanilla) Ice cream sets the tone for party togetherness!

After we mostly self-planned our wedding, or Cassidy did, we high-fived and said, “We could do this for a living!” Cassidy is an events and operations guy, both personally (totally ingrained in him), and also professionally. I’m not so much, but I’m good at small details – like foods, photos, guest lists, cake, ice cream, etc. I remember the birthday parties of my youth. My mom would make decorations and a theme, and put cheese curls and chocolate covered peanut butter candies in little cupcake liners for every kid at the party. Oh, how I miss that! She even did it to be cute when I turned 18. (thank you, Mom..)

What I wouldn’t give.. The three grandmothers did not plan this. Cool, right? I’m a fan of my mom’s ombre look.

So after my creative party upbringing with four siblings – imagine planning five birthday parties a year (!!!) – and with Cassidy’s great planning experience, here are ten stress-free party planning tips for YOU! It doesn’t have to be difficult.

Ten Stress-Free Party Planning Tips:

1. Determine your date and time. This is never the most fun, is it? Weekends are usually best, but summer gives you more possibility. If you have young kids, and are inviting young kids, you may want to factor in naps. Then there’s the matter of entertainment or catering – or whatever else might determine the date and time. I generally ask around with the kids’ grandparents and closest friends to “try” to lock in a date in which most of the important guests are free. Set duration too!

2. Decide for sure on your theme, because we usually have about two or three running through our heads, only to have our kids change it! Then set to work in transforming your party into whatever magic is about to happen. My favorite part!

3. Get organized. 3-4 weeks before the event, book, decide, or even confirm the venue, make a guest list, decide on a theme, and sent out invites. In the 1-2 weeks before the party, plan a menu and make shopping lists, and maybe make a master to-do list that covers every task – decorations, entertainment, food, music, RSVPs, dietary restrictions, contact information, etc. Keep it online and a hard copy too. I personally like to write tasks and check them off, as I complete them.

4. Planning your guest list. This is perhaps my biggest weakness, because I would invite the town mayor if he’d come. (around here, he might) Some wisdom I’ve learned from Cassidy and other event planners is to partly determine guest list by where you’re having the party. Some venues can only tolerate so much. Then really think about who would enjoy the party, and as your kids get older and make their own guest lists more, who do they really want there? This year we decided to invite good friends from school, and then a few friends from babyhood, toddlerhood, and preschool. We had to stop somewhere.

5. Send out invites. Should be simple, right? Whether you send out invites by mail, or do it online – best for last minute parties – there’s still a matter of compiling. It’s either addresses or email addresses, and then making sure people received their invites. An invitation sets the tone for a party, and also builds fun anticipation. There are plenty of store and online options.

6. Decide your budget. How much are you willing to spend? How much can you spend? You can throw a potluck to save money, although we prefer to serve our own stuff. Although if planning help is offered from relatives and loved ones, we accept!

7. Consider a self-serve drinks bar. Whether it’s alcohol, no-alcohol, or a mix, guests can be their own bartenders. Set up a pretty tray or table, with different kinds of drinks, cups, and straws. Also have markers for writing names on cups.

8. Keep food as simple as possible. For Scarlet’s second birthday, we did a “Food on a Stick” theme. It was great for both kids and adults alike. Instead of a sit-down meal, which is way too much for a family party, we did trays of mouth-watering appetizers. I also recommend easy to cook, and easy to assemble food. We love meatballs, fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato kabobs, dips and chips, cake pops, etc. We also rent a sno-cone machine or cotton candy machine for added touches.

9. Set up a kids’ table for food and favors. Or do they still call them goodie bags? I love to set up an area for kids to have their own fun. Some fun ideas are to cover the table with a fun tablecloth or butcher paper and crayons.

10. Cake and ice cream, of course. We love cake and cupcakes, and we love ice cream even more, especially for summer parties. I grew up on the great taste of EDY’S®, and now we have been loving EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® Simple Recipes.

We get ours in the ice cream section of Walmart.

Two family and party favorites for us are EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® Caramel Delight Light Ice Cream and EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® Vanilla Light Ice Cream. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to bring people together, during summer, and always.

EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® Caramel Delight Light Ice Cream is made with real, simple ingredients, and proudly made with fresh milk and cream with no rBST. There are no artificial colors or flavors, and no GMO ingredients. Celebrate togetherness!

Find out more about EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® Simple Recipes!

Most of all, there will be demos in June! Find one near you here.

Lastly, get connected!

For more info about EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED®, go HERE
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  1. Nailed it with your tips as we are planning a birthday party right now for Emma, too with her 7th birthday being the 17th. Oh by the way, now I just want a big bowl of ice cream, too though!! 🙂

    1. I just had one.. or two. I can’t help it. It’s good!
      I wish we could have joint parties! You tagged me in a recent photo of Emma and some of my friends liked it because they just assumed Scarlet was in it. That’s because she should have been in it! Our girls would be fast friends.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I am about to plan a summer party and these are so helpful. Yes to the caramel ice cream too – I would buy it even if I didn’t have a party to plan. It looks so tasty!

  3. So planning a party a week out isn’t good form? That would explain a ton, actually. My two older girls’ birthdays fall during soccer tournament times, and it’s tough to nail down a date and time!

    1. If we’re being honest.. I often plan the parties even less than a week out. This is my act of trying to reform.
      Don’t tell anyone, though.

  4. Great tips! Our kids usually have joint parties too since their birthdays are really close. But it’s usually pretty small so it’s easy to plan.

  5. Great! Your man is the man when it comes to planning parties!

    I really liked Edy’s ice cream when I used to eat ice cream! I once pitched a summer idea to them to have an “ice cream cone and a book” give-a-way party for kids in one of our less advantaged neighborhoods here.

    1. He is! And always last minute too. People think of him as the more logical one of the two of us, but I really start to wonder.
      I hope they received your pitch and acted on it!

  6. I’ve recently taken to using Doodle polls to set the date. You can put up a couple of options and let people vote, which helps you pick the date where the most people can come without making a bunch of phone calls. I’m feeling so technologically advanced (even if it is an illusion, as apparently most people have been using this tool for some time now…)

      1. I’ve always loved ice cream, but eating it three times a day is new. It’s actually the doctor’s orders. I’ve been having swallowing problems and I’m dropping weight too quickly. So ice cream all day it is. I like anything natural that doesn’t have too many ingredients on the labels. It’s not too hard to find now, everyone is releasing a natural line. But – one of my biggest weaknesses is Dairy Queen’s peanut butter cup blizzard with chocolate ice cream. I could eat those every day.

        1. Makes sense. Did they recommend milkshakes? Smoothies? Fatty ones?
          I hope they get to the bottom of it.
          I just Googled the nearest Dairy Queen because you got me so in the mood! 30 minutes away. Bah! Is it worth it? I think so. Peanut Butter Cup anything is.
          And not too many ingredients? That intrigues me even more.

  7. Oh great tips! No party is complete without fantastic ice cream! I love Dreyers, that is the cousin/sister co. of Edy’s right? I like the idea of a food on a stick party! That is pretty awesome 🙂

    1. Yes! Whether you’re an EDY’S girl or DREYER’S girl, it just depends on region. The flavors are the same! Go get some Caramel Delight!

  8. Big fan of edys here!! I personally think it’s the best of the freezer kind!! Great planning tips especially the guest list. So important!

    1. I totally agree! I remember eating the cookie dough as a kid, but I was gross and would save all the cookie dough at the bottom of the bowl and turn it into one giant cookie.

  9. I have a very hard time making the guest list! I want to include everyone, and that’s not always possible! After hosting many family parties, a big family reunion, and birthday parties, my stress level when it comes to parties has gone way down. My cousin is planning an 80th birthday party for her mom, and is very nervous, and I told her she could do it! (And to have it catered, of course. That cuts down on the stress a lot!)

    1. I totally get it. I think our original wedding guest list was over 500 because I had trouble not inviting my fourth grade teacher. Something that ridiculous!
      Generally these kid parties run up to 60+ guests! I’m hoping it’s more mellow this year.

  10. Great tips – and the pictures prove that they work! And I do love Edy’s ice cream – and not just cause you’re writing about it. And Cassidy is right, you should do event planning as a living – photography package included.

    1. hah, I believe you! I really love it too, and not just because I’m writing about it. It’s severely good.
      I think you’re onto something there, by the way..

  11. Great tips! I have learned getting started weeks in advance makes the job less stressful! Also, taking the help that is offered (usually by my sis and mom), makes it less stressful too! 🙂

  12. You totally nailed it with your tips, especially that part about getting organized. If you’re not organized, you surely won’t be able to get anything done. That’s the one thing that I truly struggle with, organization. BTW we just love Edy’s over here too!

    1. I wasn’t sure if you had EDY’s or DREYER’s. Either way it’s a win!
      Organization is more Cassidy’s thing.. I wing things a lot.

    1. Thank you! That was the year we probably worked the hardest, and now my husband says we set the bar high and now we must pay for it. Literally!

  13. That Alice in Wonderland party looks so fun! I love the huge cutouts. And delicious ice cream (with sprinkles) is a must for any party! 🙂

  14. What great tips! I should learn from you. You guys have the best parties! And oh no, I’m craving for ice cream now.. even though it’s already the rainy season here.

  15. Oh how I can relate to the adrenaline rush of last-minute party details. And I agree that keeping food simple is key. Anything that can be platters the night before is a winner in my book!

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