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As summer rolls in (and out again, for the famous week long British summer), the time for garden parties is upon us. You’ve set a theme and instructed everyone to come in costume, but as the host your job is the hardest: food, decorations, and then to make it more interesting, perhaps some activities and games.
So here, my fellow party planners, are (at least) 12 party planning sites that should be your first stop for inspirational ideas to help you pull off that perfect party.
Pinterest is the ultimate digital scrapbook – a meta-site pinboard of ideas on every topic under the sun, curated by real people and centered on a single topic. Just search for your chosen theme and you’ll find hundreds of people with the exact same objective: finding awesome party planning ideas, costumes, DIY projects, and themed recipes. If you’re still in the research phase, a handy “re-pin” feature lets you grab the ones you like and put them right onto your own board.
Not everything linked to is free, but the party planning ideas and inspirations you can draw from them certainly are.
Coming a close second on the ideas front is Kara’s Party Ideas, which caters nicely for both child and adult themed parties with curated user submissions. The photography is good quality, so you can have a clear impression of what others have done before.
Hostess with the Mostess deserves a mention too, if only for the sheer amount of content. It’s a hit and miss with the user submissions, but sorting by number of likes usually nets you something good from actual party planners. Sadly, the party planning site is strictly ideas only with photos, as any details of parties are pretty scant.
For those who like to take a more DIY approach to parties, Instructables is your number one resource. Again, pieces are user submitted so not all are great, but generally each project is full of illustrated build instructions and materials lists. You’ll find all manner of party decorations, costumes and furniture.
Like Wikipedia, it’s also easy to get thoroughly lost with Instructables, so you might end up making plans to build a laser maze for Halloween instead. Stay focussed, people!
Most professional looking printables you find on the web are actually being sold on Etsy, so I was overjoyed to find Rebecca’s site UPrintables, where she has a huge selection of really high quality and free downloads. They’re not quite focused on any particular theme, but rather a random selection of generic vector-style ticket stubs, flowers, and party invites. Many of the downloads include both a JPG for standard printers, and a Cameo Studio file – but you should find something for any party.
CatchMyParty is primarily a commercial site, but they do have a special section of free printables worth checking out too.
Paper Craft: PaperInside [No Longer Available]
For those with delicate hands, pepper your party with some adorable little paper crafts, like this 10cm high Absolem below. If you have a big enough printer, you should even be able to scale up these nicely.
Recipes: Party Ideas By a Pro
Matt is a professional party planner, and his blog contains tons of ideas grouped by theme; I found the recipe section in this Alice in Wonderland page to be particularly useful. Every page is nicely laid out with hand picked unique ideas, so if he has done your theme, you’re in luck.
Epicurious is also a standard go-to for recipes of all sorts, though you’ll find more around popular holiday occasions than fairy tales.
Party Games: The Party Animal Blog
A veritable treasure trove of party planning tips, but their games section was what really impressed me – the Wonderland games page here lists no less than 20 Alice themed games!
If you have the space and luxury of a forest or meadow to play in, check out some classic wide games that have been tried and tested by Scouts and Guides for centuries.
Bonus: Disney Family
If your party planning theme has been covered by Disney at some point – and let’s face it, they’ve covered an awful lot – then Disney Family has a wealth of printables, recipes, activities and all sorts to make and do. Perfect for kids parties anyway.
Lastly, if it’s a Halloween party you’re planning, don’t forget to read about these 5 bits of technology essential to any Halloween event. Do you have a favourite party planning site I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it.