Cruise-themed Anniversary Party Part 2: The Project Plan

Depending who you ask, you’ll get different answers to the question, “what makes a party great?” Some might say it’s the food, others the location (especially if it’s somewhere fabulous) and then there are those who think it’s the activities that make an event memorable.

I’m a firm believer that it’s all of these things – the full experience – that truly make a party. Unfortunately, it can be any one thing that can also “break” a party, so it’s important to do your best with all the major elements. In order to help with planning all of the details and working with others involved in putting on the party, I like to create a party project plan. I even create these when I’m throwing a party solo (because usually my husband is helping or someone has volunteered to bring food or something else). I find they are a good way to keep myself from regularly worrying about when I need to do certain things or if I have everything accounted for.

There really isn’t much to a project plan. As a project manager by trade, I’m used to writing these day in and out and I’ve seen tons of variations. But, I like to keep mine simple so it’s easy for me to keep updated and share with others without them thinking I’m totally crazy. The core basics to include on a solid project plan are:

  • Activity name – what is the task or action that needs to be accomplished?
  • Owner – who is going to be responsible for doing whatever the activity is?
  • Status – what’s happening with the activity?
  • Due date – when do you absolutely have to have it complete?
  • Comments – what info is relevant about the activity (decisions, input, issues, etc.) that you want to note?

You can see my sample project plan here that I built for the upcoming anniversary party. This is just my first draft and it’s likely that as I start to get into some of the activities in the plan, other things will arise and need to be added. It’s not important to get the plan 100% complete and perfect from day 1…just to get it started and keep it updated as you go so nothing slips through the cracks.

Once you have a simple tracker started either on paper or digitally (feel free to download and edit mine!), then you can brainstorm all the activities that you think need to go on it and assign owners and due dates. Here are some rules of thumb I use for due dates and owners:

  • Owners
    • Assign the person who is going to be responsible for getting the activity done, even if they need to consult others for their input on it.
    • Be up front with your expectations for owners of activities – are you hoping they will keep the plan up to date or will you manage that?
    • It’s okay to generalize activity names by owner – as long as the owner knows what they’re supposed to do as part of the activity, you don’t need to write out every little detail.
  • Due dates
    • Start at the end and work backward.
    • Send invites 1 month before your event.
    • Request RSVPs 1 week prior to your event (and then use this date for final food / seating planning).
    • Remember they are “drop dead” dates – aka the latest possible date the activity can be done to stay on track. Ideally, work ahead when possible.

While it might seem a little OTT to create a project plan for your next event, I promise it will be worth the 10-15 minute time investment by reducing your stress levels and helping you feel more prepared overall. Give it a shot!

If you have any questions or a unique situation you want advice on, leave a comment below! And, stay tuned for the next installment of this series where I’ll cover the process of choosing a location.

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