Welcome to part two of our 4th of July Party Planning Challenge! If you missed part one, find it here.

In part one, we established:

  • The date (natch) and time of your party
  • What type of party you’re hosting
  • That you’re hosting at home
  • Whether your party will be inside, outside or both
  • What your party budget will be
  • Who is on your guest list, including how many adults and how many kids you’ll host

Today in part two, we’re going to get much more specific about hosting your party at home and what you need to do to prepare your house. We’ll also dive into your party style, what activities you’ll have available, and choosing your party invitations.

What style will your party be?

The style question isn’t complicated, but it’s really helpful to nail down. When you know your party style, you can make design choices that coordinate, and make your party look all pulled together. Is your party style…

  • Clean and modern?
  • Vintage?
  • Shabby chic?
  • Country rustic?
  • Retro diner?
  • Something else?

You get the idea: pick your style and stick to it. Don’t mix modern with shabby chic, for instance, or your party will look like it was planned by committee. Knowing your party style also makes shopping easier, because it becomes clear what you should say “no” to — even if it is really cute.

How to get your house ready for your party

Assuming that you’re hosting your party at home, here are the next set of questions to answer. If you will host your party at home …

Which room or rooms will you use for your party? Or, which outside spaces? These obviously become the areas to focus on. If you need to declutter, start now and do a little every day. If things need a little sprucing up — maybe new outdoor cushions, or fresh plants around the patio, or extra pool towels — start shopping now. (And don’t forget the powder room as you look at your house through your guests’ eyes.)

  • What is required to make your space party-ready?
  • Will you need to remove or protect furniture?
  • Will you need folding tables or rental chairs?
  • If you need to mark any areas off limits, how will you do that?

It’s time to brainstorm party activities

You’ve decided what type of party you’re hosting: hang-out all afternoon or casual dinner or something in between. So, now it’s time to brainstorm how you’re going to fill those party hours. Click here to learn my brainstorming technique. It’s always amazing to me how well it works. I used it the other day to think ahead about Christmas parties and therefore decide what Christmas party paraphernalia I could sell. (I’m cleaning out my craft room. Always a chore.)

This is not the type of party you have to micro-manage. Your guests will eat and chat and keep an eye on the kids all on their own. But you’ll probably want to have activities available for guests — especially kids — to play with as they choose.

Here are some backyard game ideas:

  • Cornhole
  • Horseshoes
  • Frisbee
  • Ring toss
  • Water guns or water balloons
  • Sack race
  • Croquet
  • Obstacle course
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Limbo
  • Patriotic pinata
  • Life-size Jenga
  • Ladder ball
  • Three-legged race
  • Home made bubbles with big bubble wands
  • Lawn tic tac toe

Can you ask your guests to bring any outdoor games with them to the party? Here’s a huge list of 65 outdoor games from Dating Divas.

How will you watch fireworks?

Can you just step outside to watch the neighbor’s display? Will you handle them yourself? (Sparklers are as close as I’ll come to handling fireworks. Regardless of your fireworks plan, I’d have sparklers on hand for every guest.) Sometimes, we pile everyone into the cars and watch the fireworks from a local viewpoint. If you’re going to do that, and you’ll be serving adult beverages, please cut off the service at least an hour before anyone may be driving.

Choosing party invitations

Now that you know when and where you’ll host your party, what style it will be, and what you’ll do at your party, you’re ready to order invitations. You need to make all those decisions first in order to know what type of design to look for, and what the invitation should say.

Although sites like Minted have darling invitations (and Minted can even address and mail them for you), I still prefer shopping Etsy for invitations so I also can buy coordinating party printables. Of course, there are email invitation services, but I say nothing beats the fun of receiving real mail in your mailbox. Color me old fashioned.

Here’s the term I used when searching Etsy: “4th of july party invitations -birthday -baby -wedding”. Putting the minus sign in front of certain words eliminated about 1,500 invitations that weren’t right for this party.

  1. Paper Built Shop
  2. Invites Dot Tiff
  3. Sweet Tea and a Cactus
  4. Lunchtime Lettering
  5. Honey Bee Press
  6. Sunday Design
  7. My Party Design
  8. Olive and Star
  9. Shy Socialites

If you want custom stamps for your invitations, try Zazzle.com. And, if you don’t love trimming printables, send an image file to WalMart and have them printed as matte photos. The trimming’s done for you!

And that’s it for part two of our 4th of July Party Planning Challenge! In part three, we’ll tackle your party menu, speed shopping, and party favors. And be sure to grab your FREE 4-Week Party Planner (below). It will help you plan any party in just minutes a day.

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