Illustration by Mia Coleman.

Illustration by Mia Coleman.

I am no stranger to planning events. I’ve hosted open mic nights and school functions, and have years of experience helping my mom throw parties. What I’ve learned is that event planning can get kind of…overwhelming. Whether the event is for your school, community, or friends, making sure your guests are having a great time can be anxiety-inducing. It’s easy to forget to have fun yourself in the process, but fear not! I’m here to share some of the tricks that have helped me make the party-planning process fun, easy, and relatively stress-free.

Plan ahead!

The best way to make sure that your event is worry-free is to plan ahead. Trust me, there is nothing worse than scrambling at the last minute to get everything done and figuring out too late that you’ve forgotten a key element. (Ever been to an open mic without a mic? Yeah, it’s a bummer.) Based on how many people you’re expecting and how much planning is involved, determine how much time you’ll need to organize and promote your event. Then, set the date based on that estimation. List all the tasks you need to complete before the big day and all the supplies you’ll need, then give yourself mini deadlines for each one. If you’re running an art show, for example, ask all the artists to send their work in by a certain day, design promotional materials by a specific date, distribute fliers on another day, et cetera. If you can, leave the day before the event open to do or buy anything you might not have planned for. Nine times out of 10, you will need it. And if you don’t—you can just relax!

Assemble your team.

Being superwoman and attempting to do everything by myself sounds like a great idea at first, but I’ve learned that it’s practically impossible. Enlist a reliable group of friends to give you a helping hand and make the process run smoothly. Have a stylish friend with a great eye? They can help with decorations. How about a friend with killer music taste? Recruit them to make a playlist. You don’t have to take on every task—big or small—by yourself.

Be practical.

It’s important to be realistic and honest with yourself about your time and resources. Before you add anything to your event’s to-do list, ask whether it is affordable and/or achievable. As fun as they sound, the most elaborate/expensive/time-consuming ideas aren’t always doable, or even worth it. Besides feasibility, there are other factors that are often overlooked but that have simple solutions if you think ahead. Ask yourself questions like, Which snacks will make for the easiest cleanup? Should I encourage people to carpool to avoid parking fiascos? Which decorations take the least amount of setup and cleanup time?

Be a little selfish.

Before the big day, make sure every decoration is in your absolute favorite color (it’s your party). When you’re getting ready pre-party, put on your brightest lipstick, wear your sickest shoes, or your comfiest T-shirt—whatever makes you feel unstoppable. Play some Missy Elliott or Beyoncé while you beat your face. So much of event planning revolves around thinking about other people—whether that’s figuring out how many people are coming and if they’re bringing friends, or deciding which snacks will please everyone including vegan and gluten-free friends and folks with allergies. Make sure to set aside some time, before and during the event, to spend with yourself and remind yourself just how wonderful you and your event are.

Relax.

You’ve put so much time and energy into creating this shindig. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy it! There’s no need to check on your guests every two seconds. Trust that your expert planning and creative vision have come together for this magnificent occasion. And even if things don’t go exactly as planned, that’s not only totally all right, but also to be expected! Look around. This is your brainchild, and a result of all your hard work. Chat with your cool guests and dance the night away. You deserve it. ♦