Home / Guides  / Celebrations Guide  / Stress-Free Party Planning

Stress-Free Party Planning

There are so many reasons to throw a party in the summer: birthdays, holidays, or just a weekend cookout. Whatever you’re celebrating this summer, it’s easy to get in over your head!

There are so many reasons to throw a party in the summer: birthdays, holidays, or just a weekend cookout. Whatever you’re celebrating this summer, it’s easy to get in over your head! Who can resist all of the great party planning supplies and tips (thanks, Pinterest)? The thought of getting overwhelmed shouldn’t stop you from throwing the perfect party. Instead, keep it stress-free by taking note of the strategies below.

Cook Ahead

An obvious one, but a good excuse to finally clean out your fridge and freezer. Make room and create a list of dishes you can make a few days in advance. If that just can’t be done, then note the measurements for your recipes and try to at least have the exact amount on hand. This will save you from last-minute trips for dwindling supplies!

Stock Up

You know you’re going to be hosting or attending parties throughout the summer, so as leftover supplies from the prior season catch your eye at Target, throw them in your cart. When it comes to low-cost decorations, dishes, favors, etc., always grab an extra set. You’ll be glad you did!


Of course it’s cheaper to buy fruits and veggies whole, take them home and cut them up yourself. But do you think you’ll have time? Use your time elsewhere: setting up, cleaning up, baking, etc., and spend the extra buck or two for the pre-cut foods. No one will judge you if you show up to a party with a veggie tray from the grocery store — just bring a cute platter for a nicer display. 

Paper and Plastic

Don’t run your dishes right to the sink and scrub so leftover food doesn’t stick or stain! Just use paper and plastic. Yes, it’s cringe-inducing to think of all of these materials going in the trash, but you also don’t want to spend your entire party stressing over cleaning up. Remember, eco-friendly plates and utensils are an option. The dollar store will also have disposable baking tins so you don’t have to keep bugging your friend to return your dish. And don’t forget Sharpies: having people label their plastic cups will reduce the amount going into the trash, and more will be reused.

Take It Home

While you’re at the dollar store, grab some disposable containers you can give to your guests. Letting them take home leftovers is a great way to minimize waste and clear up more space in your fridge. Insist they take it all!


Sending out invites the old fashioned way is fun, but you know half of the people won’t return them. Instead, create a Facebook invite or just text your friends to let them know you are having a party. It’s okay, everyone does it!


Remember to take meats out of the freezer at least a day before! Or make time to pick these items up at the grocery store the night before or day of the party. No one likes arriving to a party to hear that the food is still being thawed out. This also reduces the risk of meat cooked on the outside, but still raw inside.

Ask for Help

It’s okay! When someone asks, “What can I do?”, give them a job. Even if it’s as simple as “can you throw this out for me?” People know how hard you worked to invite them to your home, so let them give you a hand. Additionally, take everyone up on an offer to bring something. Whether it’s a dish, an extra roll of paper towels, or a lawn game, that’s one more item you don’t have to worry about. 

Rent a Space

Is that small, simple birthday party you were planning spiraling out of control? Consider renting out a space. Try a local fire hall, a community center, or a park with picnic pavilions. If you just have to show up and bring a cake, your stress level will be way down in no time.


Skip the goody bags for your kid’s birthday party and send everyone home with one item. Some water guns, box of cookies, or a coloring book is good enough. A simple “thanks for coming, want to take home an extra piece of cake?” is totally fine too.

Philadelphia Family is published by a team of local women to connect families raising their kids in the city with resources, events, and each other. Learn more about us, our mission, and our method for supporting local businesses at familyfocus.org.