Mind Mapping

by Gillian Burn

Using a Mind Map to plan a party

Here are some useful tips to get you in the party spirit and help you to plan your celebration.

Choose a theme

Start by choosing your theme – you may consider fancy dress, a colour theme or a certain dress code. There are lots of party shops available, which provide a huge choice, but beware of the costs. Decide what you will wear to make you feel and look great. If you are going to wear fancy dress, ensure you hire or make your outfit ahead of time, so you don’t have to think about it on the day.

Deciding on the venue

Decide where you are going to hold your party. You may choose to hold it at home, in a local village hall or even in your garden. If the party is planned for outside, you will need to make contingency plans in case the weather changes (borrow some gazebos or umbrellas or make arrangements to use a nearby hall). Details of local guesthouses or bed-and-breakfast accommodation can be very helpful for those of your friends who don’t live nearby. If you have any disabled friends, check that their needs will be adequately catered for.

How much can you spend?

Decide how much you can spend and be very strict about keeping within your budget. It is very easy to have great ideas and not take into account how much they may cost! You may choose to join with a group of friends to share the cost or ask everyone to bring something to keep the cost down. A useful tip is to request people bring certain foods on the invitation, for example, drinks, a sweet or savoury food. In that way, you will hopefully have a variety of foods, keeping your costs down and allowing your friends to feel they are helping.

When is your party going to be?

Choose the time of day for your party: is it going to be at the weekend, at lunchtime or in the evening? The invitation will need to confirm when the party starts and perhaps the time it is due to end. Remember to consider the times of transport home for your friends. If you intend to consume alcohol, check the licensing hours and local taxi services, so you are seen to be responsible about drinking and driving.

Who will you invite?

When you prepare your guest list of the friends you would like to invite, be aware of the maximum numbers available for your chosen venue. Decide whether you going to make your own invitations, buy them or have them printed. Make sure you have an RSVP section, confirming the date by which you need a reply. Add an email and phone contact, so you know how many guests to expect. You may also need to add directions to the party location and include the expected finish time, to help your guests plan ahead with transport arrangements.

Music and dancing

The style of your party will dictate the music you need. You may choose a disco or provide your own music, perhaps asking friends to bring their favourite music along. Another option may be to hire a band or an entertainer. Check if there are any sound restrictions concerning playing loud music in the venue, especially if the party is being held at home. You don’t annoy the neighbours! Any disco bookings will need to be made as early as possible in your planning.

Food and drink

There are lots of choices to make involving food and drink. Decide if you want to have a finger buffet, so you don’t have to worry about cutlery and plates, or whether you are using caterers for a sit-down meal. You may need to hire certain items, such as plates, cutlery, glasses, tables, chairs, table cloths and so on. These can be ordered ahead of time and delivery or collection arranged on the party day. Decide which soft drinks you prefer and how many plastic cups you will need. If you are able to have alcohol, you may decide on beer, wine or champagne. Seek advice from family and friends if you are unsure what drink to have. Be aware that some of your guests may have special dietary requirements, so check beforehand to see if anyone has any allergies to food, such as nuts or seafood, and find how many vegetarians will be coming.


If this is a big celebration, you may want to arrange ‘thank you’ gifts or bouquets of flowers. Also, consider what flowers or table arrangements you may need.

The day of the party

On the day, ensure you allow sufficient time to prepare the venue with the decorations, such as balloons or banners. If you are having a sit-down meal, you will need to prepare tables, with place settings, table decorations and a seating plan. Again, this should be planned ahead of time. If you are using external caterers, confirm when they will be arriving or when you are collecting the food and drink you are providing.

After the party

We often underestimate how long clearing up can take. You may not feel like clearing up straight afterwards, but make sure you arrange when you are going to tidy up. Enlist the support of friends and welcome volunteers. Have boxes and rubbish bins available and arrange to recycle cans, bottles and so on.

Party planning

Now the fun planning can start. Use the headings on the sample to create your own party Mind Map to help you plan your special celebration. Highlight when you need to buy food, arrange the music and so on, so you don’t have a last-minute rush on the day. Plan ahead carefully and enjoy your party!

  Planning a party