Kristin Banta’s Ultimate Holiday Party Planning Guide

November 9, 2015
Written by: sbe Editor
Images via Kristin Banta Events

It’s that time of the year when you are probably starting to think about throwing a holiday party. If you are intimidated by the planning process and the idea of budgeting the time to create a memorable fete while navigating through a rigorous holiday schedule, here’s a planning checklist directly from Kristin Banta, of Kristin Banta Events to make your life a little easier.

As you embark on the look and theme of your soirée and kick off the planning, just remember that a relaxed host is the key to the best party. At the end of the day, it is all about having a drink and a laugh, isn’t it? So keep it simple and you’ll be able to have as much fun as your guests.

2 Months Before:
  • Set your date and time – Remember that the holidays get really busy for everyone and there are numerous invites to chose from, so if you want a good turn out, try not to schedule too close to Holiday break.
  • Create a guest list and compile guest addresses – if creating more of an intimate affair, be mindful of the synergy of your guest list.
  • Once you’ve determined the size and scope of your event, determine a budget goal.
  • Contract an event producer so that you can be relaxed and present as the host/hostess.
  • Reserve a venue for event and conduct a sight visit with your planner.
  • Book a caterer and/or bar company.
  • Discuss decor needs with your event producer. If not contracted with an event producer, book floral and decor providers (for tabletops and accent decor, bars, lounges, draping, staging, etc).
  • Book photographer and videographer.
  • Book entertainment (Musicians and/or DJ).
  • Create online event page/website to provide a place for guests to easily get additional details about the event.
  • Design and order invitations.
1 Month Before:
  • It’s all about lighting – book lighting designer especially if not in a residential space.
  • Reserve any basic rental equipment (tables, linens, chairs, glassware, china, tents, etc).
  • Discuss cuisine and cocktails with your selected caterer and bar company, incorporating inspiration from the season and arrange for tastings.
  • Select and order guest takeaways (if applicable) – make it meaningful or relevant to you as a host, perhaps sharing a mini version of your favorite holiday pie or sending them away with a wooden crate of fresh pomegranates.
3 Weeks Before:
  • Create a #hashtag and begin using it to share event info.
  • Create playlist or other media for event. Be thoughtful of what vibe you wish to create – you don’t have to commit to holiday music…maybe it’s something equally festive but different like a selection of 1960’s French recording artists for something more eclectic.
  • Contract a valet or make alternate parking arrangements – don’t make your guests trudge up and down the Hollywood hills in their stilettos for the love of God.
  • Plan out any games and activities or special activations  (this could be anything from a tarot card reader to a glass blower making custom ornaments to a sommelier conducting wine tastings to giant Jenga!).
  • Plan out/purchase your attire as Fierce is always a factor.
2 Weeks Before:
  • Finalize seating plan and design menus, table numbers, escort cards and place cards if doing a seated dinner. Consider unexpected but thematic items for this in lieu of standard printed elements. For instance, maybe each guest’s “placecard” is a gourd with their names calligraphed in gold ink. Or maybe instead of table numbers, there are thematic elements placed in the middle of each table (i.e. if you’re doing a music themed party you could place embellished musical instruments in the middle of each table with corresponding cards that direct each guest to a table with a specific instrument).
1 Week – Several Days Before:
  • Review all arrangements, details and notes.
  • Pick up any last minute items. (i.e. ice, favors etc) not being covered by your teams.
  • Prepare any final payments or tips to be paid on the day of event…you can give these to your event planner for distribution.
  • Begin early setup – if hosting from your home bring in your housekeeper for a final cleaning and rearrange or remove any furniture in preparation for your event setup.