The Best Tip to Organizing Your Party Planning

I love to entertain and plan parties. Today I am sharing what I think is the best tool to organize my party planning … my color-coded spreadsheet!

party planning tips

I love to plan parties. I really do. Last year we hosted nine parties at our home that ranged from 12 to 200 people. I loved every second of the party planning because of what I call my best tool to organize your party planning.

It’s called my Color Coded Spreadsheet.

the best tool for party planning

Today I am also partnering with some of my favorite bloggers as we are all sharing Organizational Tips. Be sure to head to the end of my blog post for links to all of their fabulous ideas!

The Color-Coded Spreadsheet

About ten years ago I created a planning spreadsheet. It lists all of the tasks I needed to complete to plan the party and color codes them by the day the task needs to be completed.

There are so many steps that have to be completed to complete a party. Trust me, I know. Some of the tasks are the invitations, menu planning, planning the theme, buying everything, the party set up, preparing the food, decorations such as flowers and lighting, and setting up the day of the party including bar and food areas. Oh, and there is also clean up. The list goes on and on and on.

Look at how many place cards I did for this party!


For this outside dinner party, I set up an “outdoor ceiling” with vintage posts and wood and hung flowers and greens on the “ceiling”. 

dinner party planning

This is the engagement party we hosted in our backyard for our son and his fiance.

Party planning ideas

Let’s take a look below at the Color Coded Spreadsheet I use for our Christmas party. Our party is quite involved as I cook  16 – 20 appetizers and six different desserts for 200 people. For years I stressed about getting everything done. I had lists of the menu items to complete but I never felt confident that I would or could finish everything. About ten years ago  I created the Color Coded Spreadsheet so I could break down all my tasks by day. As long as I completed the tasks every day, I knew I would be ready for the party.

I should mention that I also hire staff to come on the day of the party to cook and serve all of the food I have prepared. They also do all of the cleanup! It’s the best decision I have ever made.

Each menu item is listed by name, cooking instructions for the day of the party, and then the tasks. The tasks are the steps needed to prepare the menu item. They are broken down by day. Let me explain.

The whole purpose of the chart is so that I can have a list of everything that needs to be done and code it by color to indicate which day each task has to be completed. Every night I would check the list to make sure my daily tasks were done. (I aslo left an entire day free the week of the party so that I could have a “catch up” day.)

The days are color-coded as:

Yellow – week prior

Dark Orange – weekend prior

Pink – Monday

Blue – Tuesday

Light green – Wednesday

Light orange – Thursday

Aqua – Friday

Gray – Saturday morning

Olive Green – Staff on Sunday afternoon

This guide can be seen on the bottom of the Color-Coded Spreadsheet.

How the Color Coded Spreadsheet Works

The first page lists the appetizers. The “tasks” are divided by day. For example, the Spicy Grilled Shrimp has two major tasks. One is cooking the shrimp and the other is making the Cocktail Sauce. The “Cook Shrimp” task is Green which is “Saturday staff” which means the staff will cook it shortly before the party starts. Making the “Cocktail Sauce” is colored orange which means I can make the sauce on Thursday. 

Thursday and Friday are obviously the hardest preparation days. You can tell by noticing that there are a lot of light orange and aqua colored boxes on my spreadsheet.

color coded spreadsheetdinner party planning

Underneath all of the menu items, the spreadsheet has a lit of tasks such as grocery shopping, house cleaning, setting up tables, setting up the bar, flowers, decorate the house, etc. 

This is what my kitchen typically looks like during Friday preparation.

  Christmas party planning

So how can you use this type of a Spread Sheet for your next party?

  1. Make a list of your tasks. This should include any food prep and tasks such as grocery shopping, house cleaning, setting up tables, setting up the bar, flowers, decorate the house, etc.
  2. Enter them on a google spreadsheet or excel spreadsheet
  3. Break out the tasks-by-day. Decide which days the items should be done and color code the days. 
  4. Keep a copy on hand during party planning.
  5. Enjoy the process!

table settings

I hope this helps you to prepare for your next party. This was a game-changer for me. It absolutely took away all of the stress in preparing for our parties!

girls night out party

Here are all of the wonderful Organizing ideas for your home. Enjoy!

9 Tips For Kitchen Organization – Happy Happy Nester || Bathroom Organization Ideas – Lolly Jane // Textured Polka Dot Utensil Holder – Craftberry Bush // Turn a Closet into a Pantry – Tatertots & Jello

Organizing Your Party Planning – My 100 Year Old Home // Organizing Laundry Supplies – Zevy Joy // Spice Drawer Organization – Finding Lovely // How to Declutter and Decorate a Beautiful Home – So Much Better With Age

How To Organize Kitchen Drawers – Modern Glam // How I Keep My Home Organized – My Sweet Savannah // Whole Home Organization Ideas to Declutter Your Life – Grace In My Space // Medicine Cabinet Organization Ideas and Tips – Twelve On Main

10 Week Organizing Challenge – The Happy House // Fridge Organization and Storage – Inspiration for Moms // How to Organize Your Pantry – The Handmade Home // A Budget Friendly Linen Closet Makeover – The Tattered Pew 

Mudroom Lockers Organization – Two Twenty One // Small Pantry Organization Ideas – The DIY Mommy // How to Organize Kids’ Rooms – Cassie Bustamante // 5 Easy Steps To Create An Organized Junk Drawer – She Gave It A Go // Organizing Tips for Traveling with Kids – Pink Peppermint Designs 

Pin the image below to your Organizing boards on Pinterest (just click the Pin button in the top left corner). You can also follow along with me on Pinterest!

organizing ideas for your home

For more real-time updates, follow me on Instagram @My100YearOldHome

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  1. Great minds think alike. I use and have used for over 10 years the same basic system. Color coding the day helps so much in party planning and execution.

  2. You are amazing and you are my “happy place”! Thanks for all you do and brining so much joy and so many ideas!!! Those recipes sound FABULOUS…….on your organization chart. Would you be willing to share them???? P L E A S E

    Thanks again for all you do!

  3. Leslie, I enjoy entertaining, too; however, my parties are on a much smaller scale! I love this idea, though, of a spreadsheet. I generally just write lists of what needs to be done on which day, but I like how you have structured it! You can see everything in one place and it’s so well organized. Now I just need to plan a party!! Maybe for Valentine’s Day? You’ve gotten me in the mood.

  4. Hi Leslie! Love your blog, IG and everything it includes! I just a free computer program called “Asana”. It’s a great color-coded, task oriented program that you can use on your computer or phone that will send you reminders and has a great way to take notes, etc.

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